Arie Zeev Raskin
Rabbi Arie Zeev Raskin, born in 1976, is the Chief Rabbi of Cyprus and the first rabbi on the island in many years.
He moved to Cyprus in 2003 with his wife Shaindel and their children in an effort to introduce Jewish life onto the island. He had previously lived in Kiryat Malachi in Israel. He is a follower of the Chabad-Lubavitch branch of Hasidic Judaism. In Cyprus, he set up the Cyprus Jewish Community Centre in Larnaca, close to the international airport, to serve around 350 Jewish families on the island, as well as Jewish travellers and tourists.
Besides the Larnaca Synagogue, the Cyprus Jewish Community Centre also houses a dining room, English and Hebrew library, a mikveh and a kindergarten. Other activities at the Centre include a wide variety of classes and programmes designed to reach all ages and levels of Jewish learning. Activities include Discussion groups on Jewish issues, weekly Talmud and Torah study groups, special Jewish holiday programmes, Jewish email services and a website, Shabbat meals and tourist assistance. Rabbi Raskin was nominated as the official Jewish Leader and the Chief Rabbi of Cyprus on Monday 12 September 2005, at the dedication ceremony of the Centre which was performed by Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger and a representative of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, Reverend Weissman. In the synagogue, Rabbi Raskin was draped with a tallit and officially took on the leadership of the Cyprus Jewish community. Other guests at the ceremony included the Israeli ambassador at the time, Zvi Cohen-Litant, Rabbis from the Rabbinical Center of Europe, the Vice Chairman of the Lubavitch educational division at Lubavitch World Headquarters, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Rabbi Yekutiel Farkash from Jerusalem, the Cypriot Education and Culture minister Pefkios Georgiades, and Larnaca’s deputy mayor Alexis Michaelides as well as members of the government, politicians, diplomats, Rabbis from all over Europe representing their communities and other local leaders.
By 2006 the building of mikveh (“ritual pool”) Mei Menachem was completed, and a summer centre in Ayia Napa and the Cyprus International Jewish School were opened. “Our primary goal is to improve the quality of Jewish life for every Jew in Cyprus: the moral values and rich traditions that Judaism has to offer are things that no Jew should be deprived of.” Rabbi Arie Zeev Raskin – Rabbi of Cyprus.”
Current projects initiated and coordinated by Rabbi Raskin include, “Kindness in Cyprus” a non-profit foundation dedicated to helping people with medical care in Cyprus and Israel; a special campus established in a peaceful village of the Larnaca district; aimed at helping teenagers with special needs and a new community centre and museum of Jewish heritage.