The city of Moscow celebrated its first Day of Tolerance on December 7. The Russian Jewish Congress invited members of diverse student organizations from around Moscow for a night of music and socializing at the club B2. Over four hundred students from around the world, including Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Ossetia, Africa and Central Asia attended the event.
Viatcheslav Kantor, the president of the Russian and European Jewish Congresses, was on hand to welcome guests. In Kantor’s words, “Moscow’s Day of Tolerance is a cultural event aimed at raising awareness of the importance of promoting peaceful coexistence in a diverse society. Tolerance does not only mean teaching people to respect others, whatever the color of their skin may be; it also means refusing to tolerate any forms of ethnic bias.”
During the B2 event, the Russian Jewish Congress awarded a special prize called First Steps in the Performing Arts to three talented violin students from the Moscow Conservatory. The prize was established to commemorate 100 years since the birth of renowned violinist David Oistrakh.
Kantor, who presented the prize, pointed out that Oistrakh was one of the many outstanding people who, although not ethnically Russian, have dedicated their lives to the country and its culture. Kantor reminded guests that this is the third year running that the Russian Jewish Congress has held events to promote such outstanding individuals. In 2006, the RJC celbrated the birthday of famous director Roman Karmen, and in December 2007 it celebrated physicist Leo Landau. According to the RJC president, these commemorations are yet another step toward creating an environment of tolerance and reconciliation in society.
As part of the Moscow Tolerance Day, the RJC and the Russian Aid Foundation (Kommersant Publishing House) collected charitable donations during the event to save the life of a Russian girl who needs medical treatment in Israel. Many of the evening’s guests donated to the cause.
The Idan Raichel Project, a multi-ethnic band from Israel, closed the event. The band has received a number of U.S. and Israeli awards, as well as the main prize of the International University of Iran. In 2007, The NewYork Times named the Idan Raichel Project’s album of the same name album of the year. The band’s music is a fusion of Jewish, African and Indian sounds.