NCSJ Lauds President’s Focus On Religious Rights

May 26, 2002 – NCSJ expressed its appreciation today to President George W. Bush for emphasizing religious freedom during his visits to Moscow and St. Petersburg. According to Russian Jewish Congress President Yevgeny Satanovsky, the President was very warm and friendly during his one-hour visit to the historic Grand Choral Synagogue in St. Petersburg earlier today.

Following his meeting with leadership of diverse Jewish community organizations, President Bush noted: "And one of my strong beliefs is that people should be free to worship, and I’m pleased that that’s taking place here in Russia. It’s important for this country that religious freedom flourish and there be tolerance of all faiths."

NCSJ Chairman Harold Paul Luks said, "We look forward to meeting with the President and his staff upon his return to Washington." NCSJ President Robert J. Meth stressed, "Once again, the President has demonstrated his personal involvement and support on these important issues."

On Friday, the President addressed a Moscow gathering of religious and community leaders, saying, "Freedom of religion and separation of church and state are so important, so important so that people can worship as they choose – Jews, Muslims and all Christians, and all religions." Following the Moscow meeting, Mr. Satanovsky said was most impressed with the President’s call for a real partnership between the United States and Russia.

Recalling his private conversation last Friday with the President, Msocow Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt said, "I was impressed with his knowledge and depth of commitment to the concerns of the Russian Jewish community."

NCSJ has been working in close consultation with senior Administration officials and key Members of Congress in advance of the President’s trip to Russia, to help maximize his opportunity for meetings with Russian Jewish leaders and addressing religious freedom and Iran ties.

NCSJ: Advocates on behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia – a voluntary, not-for-profit agency created in 1971, is the mandated central coordinating agency of the organized American Jewish community for policy and activities on behalf of the estimated 1.5 million Jews in the former Soviet Union. NCSJ comprises nearly 50 national organizations and over 300 local federations, community councils and committees across the United States. Through this extensive network, NCSJ mobilizes the resources, energies and talents of millions of U.S. citizens, and also represents the American Jewish community in dealings with similar national groups abroad, and at international fora.