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Chief Rabbi Says Kazakhstan "Symbol" for Others

Added: (Sat Jan 17 2004)

Pressbox (Press Release) - WASHINGTON, January 16 - Yeshaya Cohen, the Chief Rabbi of Kazakhstan, today called the country a "symbol" for others and announced that a new large synagogue will soon be completed in Astana, its capital.

In a January 16 interview with Kazinform news agency (www.inform.kz) timed to mark the World Religion Day on January 19, Rabbi Cohen said: "There's no secret that Kazakhstan became a symbol for other countries by being able to bring together representatives of different religions who adopted the Declaration "of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in September 2003]."

He added, "A new large synagogue is being built in Astana, and it will open in a few months. That is another indicator of the respect on behalf of the Government, which ensures an opportunity to people of different religions to gather, pray and study." Said Rabbi Cohen: "I would like to thank the President of Kazakhstan for paying so much attention to distinguishing between those who truly believes and those who want to hijack their religion."

He continued: "There are people of almost 120 ethnic groups here who have good relations with each other. If we look at the history, there have never been anti-Semitic moods here, and that a distinct trait of this country."

Rabbi Cohen, born in Jerusalem and educated in England and the United States, came to Kazakhstan almost a decade ago. There are several dozen thousands of people in Kazakhstan of Jewish origin, and more than a dozen new synagogues have been built across the country during the 12 years of independence.

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