The Jewish community of the Muslim-majority nation of Azerbaijan enjoyed a visit from special guests at the end of last week: chief rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar and FJC president Lev Leviev spent the shabbat with the community, prior to that visiting the capital city’s Or Avner Jewish school and kindergarten.
The visit was part of an annual seminar and drew much attention from the media and community members, who were invited to a Friday night meal with the guests, hosted by Baku’s chief rabbi Shneur Segal.
Before shabbat, Rabbi Lazar and Mr. Leviev visited the local Or Avner complex – the largest Jewish educational center in the region, with over 200 students in its school and kindergarten. It was established in 2003 by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and Mr. Leviev’s Or Avner fund.
The guests were welcomed by students, who performed Jewish songs in Hebrew and in Azerbaijani and visited several classrooms.
“Jewish people feel very comfortable in Azerbaijan. The fact a school like this exists is a sign and a confirmation of the attitude that we feel from the president and the people that surround us. We are glad that today the Jewish community in Baku is developing and feels very confident and lives according to the rules on which our ancestors lived. Jews have lived in Azerbaijan for centuries. They lived in Krasnaya Sloboda and in Baku and they continue to live in these places,” Rabbi Lazar told local TV channel.
“We wish great prosperity to this beautiful country, where Jews feel comfortable and live in tranquility,” said Mr. Leviev in the same interview.