Rabbi Yechezkel Lazar, son of Russia’s Chief Rabbi and senior Chabad-Lubavitch emissary Rabbi Berel Lazar, has moved to — and intends to lead the Jewish community of — Simferopol, capital of the Republic of Crimea, which was forcibly annexed from Ukraine by the Russian military in 2014.
From the Jewish Press:
“Our goals are not political but spiritual,” Rabbi Lazar Jr. stated. “In Simferopol and Crimea there are Jews, and they need to organize their life as a community. I have friends in the US, and in Ukraine, and they understand it. We understand that the situation in Crimea is complicated.”
“In order to dispel the darkness we need to light a candle,” Rabbi Yehezkel Lazar said, noting that it’s “impossible to break the dark with sticks.”
Asked if the world Chabad movement might not suffer repercussions from his move which cannot but be perceived as an expression of support for the Russian annexation of Crimea, Rabbi Yehezkel Lazar admitted he “hadn’t thought of that. The future is in the hands of the Almighty. We hope that everyone understands that we have no political goals […] but if there are any difficulties – we are ready, because we didn’t come here to relax but to work to help the Jews. If we wanted an easy life, we would have remained in America or Israel, where everything is good.”