TBILISI, Georgia - During the eight-day long holiday of Chanukah, an extraordinary event occurred at the headquarters of the Head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, where Ilia II welcomed Rabbi Abraham Mikhaelashvili, the Chief Rabbi of Georgia and Chabad Lubavitch representative.
The Christian Orthodox leader extended congratulations to the Jewish people on Chanukah and lit the candles of a Menorah, presented to him as a gift by Rabbi Mikhaelashvili. The two religious leaders then joined one another in singing the first psalm - the Patriarch singing in Georgian and the Chief Rabbi singing in Hebrew.
At this festive meeting, the parties discussed issues concerning the freedom of worship in Georgia. Ilia II and Rabbi Mikhaelashvili emphasized that the traditional religions of Georgia were notable for their mutual respect and goodwill, which, in turn, has assisted in maintaining mutual understanding and peace in the region.
The Georgian religious leader added that brotherly relations between the two peoples have resulted in a positive influence on relations between the two countries - Israel and Georgia. The Patriarch noted that Georgian Jews preserve the Georgian language and Georgian traditions when they return to their historical homeland. He also supported the initiative recently expressed by Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili to provide Georgian Jews, who have immigrated to Israel, with dual citizenship.
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