Georgia sources: PM didn't seek rabbi's blessing

Deny reports that Lado Gurgenidze sought Rabbi Yehuda Leib Steinmen's blessing.

lado Gurgenidze 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
lado Gurgenidze 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
News reports that Georgia's Prime Minister Vladimer (Lado) Gurgenidze called Israel to ask for a blessing from a prominent haredi spiritual leader are totally fictitious and were timed to take advantage of Georgia's plight, said sources close to Gurgenidze Thursday. "The Prime Minister never called anyone in Israel for a blessing," said the sources. "Rather, this is an attempt to capitalize on Georgia's plight and international sympathy right now." In parallel, an organization called Hava'ad L'hatzelat Nidchei Yisrael (The Council for Savind Lost Jews), a haredi organization that builds educational institutions in Georgia, denied that it had any ties with the Israeli man who publicized the story. Rabbi Barry Hertz, Chairman of the US branch of the Council, said that according "well-informed sources" Gurgenidze never asked for a blessing and never talked with Rabbi Shimon Bruk. "I also want to point out that Bruk has not been with our organization for three months now." Both the organization and the prime minister's sources were concerned that the story would have negative ramifications for Gurgenidze, though they did not say how. This week Bruk, who introduced himself as the Chairman of the Israeli branch of The Council for Saving Lost Jews, told several news media outlets that he had received a telephone call from Gurgenidze to ask for a blessing from Rabbi Yehuda Leib Steinmen. In intricate detail Bruk related how he received the call from the Prime Minister while he was participating in morning prayers. Bruk said Thursday evening that "The Rabbis of the Jewish people are praying for the people of Georgia. The publication of the conversation that took