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   For several days the attention of Jews all over the world was drawn to Kazakhstan. October 21 in Almaty city began a meeting of Rabbis representing communities within the countries-members of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress. Spiritual directors of the Jews from 17 European and Asian countries gathered in the Southern Capital of Kazakhstan to create an organ able to coordinate their joint work. As a result they established Council of Rabbis within the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress. It is headed by Yeshaya Kogen, the Chief Rabbi of Kazakhstan.

  The choice of the place to conduct the meeting was not occasional. Firstly, Kazakhstani Jews are a young, growing, and developing community; secondly, Kazakhstan is a country that managed to preserve good relations between different religions. The choice of a place was also affected by the main question discussed in the meeting by rabbis together with Moslem clergy and Kazakhstani political leaders. Here, in the country that absorbed cultural and political peculiarities of more than 100 peoples, it was proposed to begin a dialogue between Jews and Moslems.

  The first steps to fulfill this idea were taken in June 2002 on the meeting of the Chief Israeli Rabbi Bakshi Doron with the Chief Kazakhstani Mufti Absattar Derbisali. Representatives of two oldest religions gathered at the round table in October to continue discussions about inter-ethnic relations. Rabbis and imams agreed that the things happening in the world are dangerous for everybody irrespective of his or her religion.

  - Things that are happening now in the world are a treat for all of us. That is why this meeting is so important, - said Adolph Shayevich, the Chief Rabbi of Russia.

  - When people united for the sake of peace, morals, and spirituality, it is good for the society - told the Director of "Ruchaniyat" international university Murat Mynbayev.

  October 22 the rabbis visited Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, where they met with the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. The head of Moscow JTA (International Jewish Telegraph Agency) Lev Krichevsky who accompanied the rabbis on their visit to the President shared his feelings:

  - Mr. Nazarbayev pleasantly surprised me with his knowledge of the questions not every Jews can answer. For example, a sudden rabbis' request to the President to help in bringing back the collection of books and manuscripts of Lubavich Hasids did not bepuzzle Nursultan Abishevich even for a second. "I understand how important for you Shneyerson's library is" - easily continued the President.

  After the meeting with Nursultan Nazarbayev, the rabbis met with Members of Mazhilis (the Lower Branch of Kazakhstani Parliament) and their head Zharmachan Tuyakbay. Then they visited the Department of Culture, Information and Mutual Agreement, where the first vice-minister Oleg Ryabchenko was already waiting for them. The next place they visited was the Ministry of International Affairs. The main issue discussed in all the meetings was the necessity of Jewish-Moslem dialogue. This appeal found many supporters in peaceful Kazakhstan.

Galina Goldberg

Round table
Meeting of rabbis and Moslem clergy at the round table
  When people unite for the sake of peace
When people unite for the sake of peace
Rabbis meet in Kazakhstan
Rabbis meet in Kazakhstan
Photo of Vladimir Semchuk
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