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Statement of Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger Print E-mail
Image Dear Mr. President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan! Dear President of my country, man of peace, Nobel Peace Prize Winner. Mr. Perez! Dear representatives of world religions, representatives of the nations and countries!
Jewish tradition says that it is necessary to pay respect to someone who welcomes you. I want to say that I am one of the oldest members of this Congress, as well as all the congresses, held on your initiative. I participated in the first and second Congresses, and now is present at the Third Congress, and each time I am genuinely surprised. First of all, Mr. President, I am amazed at your wisdom. You - a man of the world, managing a huge a country being home to more than 100 different nations, and, accordingly, there are hundreds of different world views. And all these people live in brotherhood and friendship owing to your wise leadership. You were a real stepping-stone towards peace, and not only here in Kazakhstan, you have become a symbol of peace throughout the world.
Mr. President, I think that you are the only president in the world who continually gathers us, the leaders of world religions at the same table, those who have not previously imagined such an opportunity to sit down at one table, because, unfortunately, not always diplomatic relationsare established between our countries. Thus, here, sitting at one table, we can hear each other, learn the opinions of others, hear speeches that will bring us closer to each other.
I would also like to emphasize, Mr. President, I am surprised at your city, your capital Astana. I think that you are the only President in the world in our generation who was able to build the capital during his time in office. And every time I come here, I see growth of this beautiful city where there are Christian churches, mosques and, of course, most importantly for me, synagogue. I am together with you opened the first synagogue in Astana, and tomorrow I will participate in the opening of the fifth synagogue. For me, this is real and the most important message of peace and friendship. Thank you very much, Mr. President!
Dear participants of the Congress! I have heard today a lot of wise speeches, in particular, by the imam of Sheikh Al-Azhar Tantawi, the Secretary General of the Muslim World League of Sheikh Abdullah bin Abdul Muhsin Al-Turki. I saw that a lot of what they quoted was contained in our scriptures: protest against the worship of many gods, protest against religious coercion, the call for exchange of views, justice, including respect for opponents, enemies. This all takes place in our holy scriptures. Also respected sheikhs reminded, that we were all created by the Lord God of the first man, as the initial source of mankind. All this we know from the Holy Scriptures. But the old wisemen highlighted an interesting difference. What is the difference between a country in which the Treasury makes money for use, and the God?
Each country makes state money according to one particular model, which serves as the basis and source. Thus, in order to avoid counterfeiting banknotes, all subsequent money made looks similarly to the original note model.
In contrast to production of banknotes the God is not afraid of counterfeits, he created us on the same model, but not the same pattern. He has created billions of human beings fundamentally different from each other. And this all started from one person.

The old wiseman said, “As far as people are different in appearance, so their views are different.” One of the wisemen tried to explain these lines: “Just like you can not hate the man who came to your house for what he does not look like you, as well you can not hate people of another religion.” Nobody can we hate a person for his opinion which does not coincide with yours. You should respect each given its opinion, given his views, because all of us are the people of the world.
I find it necessary to tell you the story of the artist, who lived with his wife and three children in peace and concord. Once the artist has decided that I must draw a picture, revealing the most important topic in the world.
He left his home, wife and children for searching the most important topic. One month later, he arrived in the area where the war lasted for many years between two nations, which took lives of many innocent people. Walking down the street, he met a man and asked him: “How do you think what the most important thing in life is?” and the man told him that if peace comes, our lives will be better and obtain color.
The artist agreed to the man: “Yes, peace is very important, but how to draw a “peace”? Finding no answer, the artist decided to continue his search. The artist traveled to another country where there was constant conflict between believers and unbelievers. Stopped a passerby in the street, the artist asked, what, in his opinion, the most important thing in the world is, and the passerby said: “Faith! If all the people believe everything will be fine.”
The artist agreed to the passerby, “faith” is really important, but how to draw a “faith”? Getting no answer, he followed his way. Upon arriving at another location, the artist met a woman who has had problems with her husband, and asked her what, in her view, the most important thing in the world is. “Love”, - she replied, - “when there is love in the house, then paradise will be established there.”
The artist agreed to the woman. Indeed, “love” is very important, but how to draw it? After a year of traveling the artist decided to return home empty-handed.
When he came home, his wife greeted him warmly and with tears in his eyes, the children jumped joyfully when they saw their father. When the artist sat at the table with his wife and saw her tender look, he realized: “What am I looking for in the world? I was looking for peace, I have it in my house. I was looking for love, it is living under this roof. I was looking for faith and I found it here, in my house. All these treasures are in my house.”
So, Ladies and Gentlemen! We all represent different faiths, representatives of 80 countries at this table, we do not need to rely on others, because there is a real treasure in our home. What religion does not care about trust, peace and love? This is the common fact that unites us all.
We must take care to put these important principles into concrete actions so that we could draw the picture delivering pleasure to the whole world.
I would like to quote the first Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Cook Zetselya, who wrote in his book “Clean Fog” about our duties. “Our duty as the men of religions, is not to fight against the infidels, but summon up faith; not to fight against evil, but summon up justice; not to fight against illiteracy, but summon up wisdom.”
Our task, as representatives of the religions, is to come to a joint decision: to provide each prisoner who is held captive by one of the warring parties (whether in national or religious struggle) the right to meet with, at least, a representative of his religion.
Also I wish us to come to the decision that our houses of worship (mosques, churches and synagogues) would serve as a kind of God’s embassies, embassies remains extraterritoriality, God’s embassies serve as the source of peace and love, God’s Embassy are places.

We must take care of education of future generations. Two nations or religions being at war with each other can not be included in the curriculum textbooks used to incite hatred and racism to the opposite side. If the educational books contain offers, inciting mutual hatred, our job as representatives of religions, is to make sure that the Ministry of Education deleted from the textbooks the words, causing feelings of hatred to the neighbor, since the teenager who grew up in hatred of his neighbor will be able suddenly to treat him cordially.
Mr. President! The date of August 29 stayed in our minds as the day when you signed a decree to destroy the nuclear potential of Kazakhstan, thus, proving willingness and commitment of your people to the world without nuclear weapons. Your leadership is truly wise. We hope your wisdom will provide benefit not only for this land, but will ensure the spread of peace and peaceful initiatives in other countries.
My best wishes to all the present, as it is said in the Jewish prayer, which is pronounced by each Jew three times: “Make peace in heaven, and He will create peace for us.” Amen. Thy will be God!
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