On the eve of the year 5781 from creation of the world, President of the Federation of Jewish —ommunities of Russia Alexander Boroda told Interfax-Religion how the community has lived through the year, shared the plans for the coming year and mentioned how the quarantine restrictions have changed our lives.
- Alexander Moiseyevich, the recent year was very difficult, the coming year does not promise to be easier: the season of influenza begins, everyone is expecting the second wave of the pandemic. How do you feel about the coming New Year? What do you want to wish Jews?
- We welcome the New Year with the hope for the end of the pandemic. This is certainly a tragic event, and we hope that it will end, first of all, due to the vaccine that has already been released in Russia and will soon be released in other countries, as well as because many people have already recovered, they have developed immunity and antibodies. We also hope that the economy will gradually recover, people will return to their jobs, and the most affected sectors of the market will also recover: tourism, restaurant business and others.
However, we also saw some positive effects of the quarantine. First of all, this is Internet activity, online lectures and various mass events that were held in ZOOM. It is obvious that all this things will develop in the future.
Of course, this format will not replace face-to-face meetings, but it will certainly add novelty to educational, enlightening and religious activities.
We hope that in the coming year, with the end of the pandemic, restrictions on visiting synagogues will be gradually cancelled and people will be able to safely come to synagogues on weekdays, on Shabbat and holidays, as before. Or perhaps they will come even more often, because everyone has missed it so much and canít wait to come back. We expect that activity of the Jewish Museum will be fully restored, without restrictions of Rospotrebnadzor (Federal service for supervision of consumer rights protection and human welfare - IF).
We are looking forward to restoration of everything that we were deprived of for most of this year.
- Many projects were postponed due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, what do you consider the main achievement of the Jewish community in the past year?
- We have more or less fulfilled all the plans that were outlined. We have not stopped any project. Design projects of schools, rebuilding the museum - work processes continued despite the pandemic.
- Could you share the "business plans" of the Federation of Jewish Communities for the next year? Opening of new synagogues, schools, charity projects...
- The Jewish community is not involved in business, so we have no business plans. In the coming year, we are going to build another school in Moscow, we are going to rebuild the entire area for temporary exhibitions in the Jewish Museum, we are planning to start designing a large youth center and we have built and are going to launch a new modern feeding center for educational institutions. We have opened a kindergarten and plan to start building another one. We are also building a synagogue in the town of Mytishchi in the Moscow Region, we have almost built a community center in Tomsk and are planning to open a memorial in Novosibirsk and much more.
- The Jewish New Year has been always celebrated widely in the community. How will the holiday be held this year? In what way do you recommend to celebrate it?
- We will celebrate it taking into account the requirements of Rospotrebnadzor: social distance, masks, taking temperature. It is the main limitation that would determine the maximum number of people in the hall and at the festive meal.
- The following joke appeared in the Internet: the Jews will soon enter in the year 5781, so let's ask them how 2020 ended. What do you think the end of the secular year 2020 will bring us?
- If we are talking about the pandemic, now there is an increase, primarily associated with the exacerbation of the usual autumn respiratory diseases, which coincides with the coronavirus and, accordingly, can provoke a splash. However, we see that medical institutions have learned to differentiate patients into those who need hospitalization and those who can be treated on an outpatient basis. The mayor of Moscow assures there will be no new quarantine. Therefore, we think that somewhere around November-December, a certain stage will be passed, especially due to the vaccine, and thanks to it Russia and Moscow will return to active life faster than in summer.
- The Jews believe that in Rosh Hashanah the Lord makes a decision for the next year and puts down peoplesí names either in the Book of Life or in another book. What do we need to do to get into the Book of Life? Is it in our power, or is the decision predetermined?
- It is written in the Machzor on Rosh Hashanah that repentance, prayer, charity, good deeds change any sentence, so you need to pray, repent and do good deeds. This will allow us, God willing, to be recorded in the Book of Life.
- On the eve of the New Year, we received news that the Arab Emirates and Bahrain have established diplomatic relations with Israel. Many other countries in the region reacted with hostility. What do you think about the prospects and terms of wide recognition of the Jewish state in the Arab world?
- I consider this event a huge breakthrough, it is a promising formula for settling the Israeli-Palestinian problem. The fact is that many countries are sponsors of the Palestinians, but not sponsors of their peaceful life, but sponsors of undermining Israel, sponsors of terrorism and radical actions against the Jewish state. Perhaps, today the assistance of the Arab states will be refocused on real positive processes in the PNA: strengthening the economic base, increasing the number of jobs, and eventually, perhaps, the Palestinians will begin to value and treasure their lives more.
- The New Year is a time of fairy tales and miracles. If you had a magic wand and you could make any wish come true with a swipe, what would you change in the world?
- I would wish people not to fall ill and die, so that there are no wars - this is definitely with the first swipe. And in order not to be like narrators of jokes about a goldfish, who make wishes for one, two and three, I will say that the coming of the Messiah will provide all what I would like to see.