When the meeting between Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the city of Sochi went on for many more hours than planned last Friday afternoon, it was clear that the Israeli delegation would not be able to fly home for Shabbat. So the city’s Jewish community leaped into action to prepareShabbat for them, including providing a Torah scroll, prayer books and prayer shawls for services, as well as preparing plenty of kosher food for the Shabbat meals.

The hastily-prepared but exceptional meal and services were held at the delegation's hotel, where they were hosted by Sochi’s mayor, Alexey Kopaigorodsky, and Rabbi Sholom Lazar, director ofChabad of Sochi.

Before the kiddush, Bennett shared that his meeting with the Russian president was warm and cordial and thanked the Israeli delegation for their efforts, putting the crucially important meeting in context of the weekly Torah portion, Vayera, citing lessons he learned from Abraham and the binding of Isaac.


“Faith and trust in G‑d must be at the center of everything we do,” noted the prime minister. “When someone believes in G‑d there may be difficulties; there may be failures, but we know that our job is to do the maximum we can do, and trust that the results are in G‑d’s hands, and He will arrange everything exactly as it should be.”

The prime minister then thanked Chabad "for the warm welcome, and for their dedication and the holy work they do here in Russia, and in every corner of the world. "

This was not the first time that the prime minister has availed himself to the assistance of Chabad with last-minute Shabbat arrangements. In August, a delayed Friday meeting with US President Joe Biden stranded the Israeli delegation in Washington without enough time to return to Israel before Shabbat.

The Israeli embassy in Washington worked together with American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) and the Chabad Israeli Center in Rockville, Md., to put together a full Shabbat experience, from an ad hoc-synagogue to full festive meals in their hotel suites.

At the Friday night meal in Sochi, Lazar spoke about how the patriarch Abraham modeled the mitzvah of hospitality, adding, "I want to thank the prime minister and the entire delegation giving us the great privilege of hosting you here in Sochi this special Shabbat."

In Sochi, prime minister Bennett told the rabbi in a private conversation after the Shabbat meal: “The president told me about the good relations here with the Jewish community. I want every Chabad emissary to know that I admire you without limit, love you, strengthen and embrace you. May you continue to make a difference everywhere.”