Reform Jewish leader in Crimea thanks Putin

During a meeting with Vladimir Putin, a leader of Reform Jews in Crimea said his community’s situation has improved since Russia annexed the peninsula from Ukraine.

Anatoly Gendin, chairman of the Ner Tamid Reform Synagogue in the Crimean capital of Simferopol, thanked the Russian president last week for what Gendin described as Russian authorities’ attentiveness to the requests of Crimean Jews on restitution and other matters, and the rule of law in the disputed territory “after years of fruitless appeals to Ukraine.”

The get-together took place in Yalta, at a roundtable meeting between the president and leaders of minority communities. Gendin added that a framework agreement for restitution, including for a former synagogue in Yevpatoria, was reached with Russian authorities.

Russia invaded Ukraine last year and annexed the Crimean Peninsula. Ukrainian Jewish leaders, including Ukrainian Chief Rabbi Ya’akov Dov Bleich, have condemned the annexation, but many Jews say they feel safer under the sovereignty of Russia with Putin, who is widely credited for tough action on anti-Semitism and an attentive approach to the needs of local Jews. — jta