Archbishop Antoniy, a senior cleric of the Russian Orthodox Church has handed the order of Saint Sergiy of Radonezh to Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC) president Alexander Machkevitch. The ceremony took place in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. Antoniy, the Archbishop of Urals and Guriyev, decorated Machkevitch, the leader of the largest Jewish organization of the continent, with the award for his longtime contribution into the development of the dialogue between the religions, as well as for his help in construction of the church of St Nicholas in the town of Aqtobe, Kazakhstan. Archbishop Antoniy emphasized that Machkevitch had been regularly supporting the construction of prayer houses for various confessions, including mosques, synagogues and Russian Orthodox churches.
Addressing the ceremony, the EAJC president emphasized that decorating a Jewish leader with a Russian Orthodox order in Muslim Kazakhstan testified to the high level of tolerance of the Kazakh people. He also pointed out that the dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church had always been and still remained one of the main objectives of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress. "It is a great honor for me to be decorated by the Russian Orthodox Church - one of the leading Christian churches on the planet - but it is also a great responsibility," Machkevitch pointed out. "Together, we will not allow any confrontation between Russian Jews and other peoples in the post-Soviet states. Together, we will continue our peaceful and productive dialogue."