A renowned Russian pianist has been granted Israeli citizenship.

Evgeny Kissin, 42, currently resides in Britain, but has been a long advocate for Israel. The classical musician, born in Moscow to a Russian-Jewish family, has been a vocal opponent to those on the international stage that question Israel’s legitimacy.

Kissin applied for citizenship last year, and was granted his new passport at a ceremony Saturday in Jerusalem, attended by Minister of Immigration and Absorption Sofa Landver and Jewish Agency for Israel head Natan Sharansky.

“I am with you, State of Israel, I am with you, my people,” said Kissin upon receiving his citizenship. “Now I can tell the whole world not only I am a Jew, but also I am an Israeli.”

Sharansky added in a statement: “Kissin approached me approximately a year ago and asked me to help him become an Israeli citizen so that he could ‘fight for Israel not only as a Jew, but also as an Israeli.’”

“There are other Jewish musicians who reach Evgeny Kissin’s level of musical talent, but it isn’t every day that so acclaimed a musician joins the fight for Israel so openly and so uncompromisingly. His exceptional desire to be a part of Israel is the most powerful answer to those young Jews who ask why be Jewish or why be connected to Israel.”

Kissin is a Grammy-award winning artist.

 

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