Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Putin's Chat at the Kotel; The powerful Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit at the Kotel took an impromptu turn when a frum Jew called to him
Originally scheduled for the afternoon, the visit was postponed to 2:00 AM due to security considerations.
He was accompanied by Russia's Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar and his colleague Rabbi Alexander Barada of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia. They were greeted by Kotel Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz.
At the Western Wall, the President offered a prayer and recited Tehillim from a Russian-Hebrew prayer book.
Despite the late hour, bystanders were still around and one of them called out in Russian, "Welcome President Putin." He got a smile in response.
Later, after visiting the Kotel tunnels, Putin broke away from his security circle and approached the man who had called out to him.
Leaning over the police barricade, the former KGB officer began to chat with the frum Jewish man who apparently is an immigrant from the former Soviet Union.
The man related the importance of the Kotel to the Jewish nation, and mentioned the Beis Hamikdash and Shlomo Hamelech who first built it.
"That's exactly the reason I came here - to pray for the Temple to be built again," Putin responded, according to a report on the Bechadrei Chareidim website.
"I wish you that your prayers will be received," the president added and warmly shook the man's hand.
A person who witnessed the 3 minute conversation, commented "I guess (Putin) is not as closed and tough as we thought."