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In Russia, a Top Rabbi Uses Kremlin Ties to Gain Power

By Guy Chazan
Word Count: 2,541

MOSCOW — Of all the strange relationships that define today’s Russia, few are stranger than the alliance between President Vladimir Putin and an ultra-Orthodox rabbi named Berel Lazar.

Rabbi Lazar is a follower of Chabad-Lubavitch, a Hasidic sect based in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, that is on the fringes of mainstream Judaism. Its devotees are known for their love of the Rebbe, their late spiritual leader. Some even think he’s the Messiah.

In Russia, the Lubavitch are not a marginal sect but a dominant force in Jewish life. Their leader, Rabbi Lazar, goes by the title of Russia’s chief rabbi and …
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