Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox church, visited the Jewish Museum of Tolerance adjacent to the Marina Roscha Synagogue in Moscow last week, where he was given a tour by Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar.
The Patriarch toured the museum’s exposition guided by Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar and FJC of Russia’s president, Alexander Boroda, and lit a memorial candle for Holocaust victims before opening the Assembly.
During the meeting, the Patriarch thanked the leaders of the Jewish community for the opportunity to hold the assembly in the museum and noted that he was impressed by the exposition and techniques used in creating museum spaces.
Speaking after the Patriarch, Rabbi Lazar said that he sees deep symbolism in the fact that the Interfaith Assembly is taking place at the Jewish Museum. He said that besides the idea of tolerance, which the museum aims to promote, all traditional confessions in Russia are united by a common history of persecution during the Soviet regime. “We suffered together and that taught us to help each other, to be emphatic of pain and struggles of the other. Today, when religion can be practiced freely in Russia, we need to preserve our experience, strengthen connections and together stand for the eternal values of tolerance and mutual respect,” he said.
Besides interfaith connections and dialogue, religious leaders of major religions present at the Assembly discussed issues connected with ecology, culture, and art. The participants agreed that true works of art should contain a humane message that awakens people’s souls in search for truth and kindness.
The Russian Interfaith Assembly was founded in 1998. Its goals include counteraction to inter-religious conflicts, dialogue with the government and promoting mutual respect and understanding.