Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Russian President Putin in Moscow yesterday, marking 25 years since the renewal of diplomatic relations between the two countries back in 1991. That was also the year that the massive aliyah of over 1 million Jews from the former Soviet Union began. This brings back personal memories as I and a team of leadership from the United States participated in collateral activities in Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Uzbekistan on behalf our Russian brothers and sisters.
After the meeting, Putin spoke about the deepening relationship between Russia and Israel and the potential for economic development between the two countries. He also recalled that the Soviet Union was the first country to vote in favor of Israel’s establishment during the momentous vote in the UN in 1947. The PM echoed Putin’s remarks and expressed Israel’s gratitude for the role that the Red Army played in defeating the Nazis in WWII.
As a sign of the deepening relations between the two countries, an agreement is expected to be signed which will enable citizens who moved from former Soviet Bloc countries to Israel in 1992 to be eligible for Russian pensions. Those Jews were forced to give up their Soviet citizenship in order to leave, which made them ineligible to receive their pensions. The agreement will correct that injustice.
World Jewry came together during these historic days and the results were miraculous., Over one million Jews emigrated from the USSR, ending one of the deepest and darkest periods in Jewish history. As Shavous approaches we should recall the enthusiastic expressions of the Jewish people at the foot of Mount Sinai. The Torah tells us that our people were Am Echad B’lev Echad- One Nation with One Heart. Even in our times we can see the tremendous results of the Jewish people working together in a cooperative enterprise.