JERUSALEM (JTA) — Renowned Russian classical pianist Evgeny Kissin received Israeli citizenship, saying now he could fight for Israel as an Israeli.
“I am with you, State of Israel, I am with you, my people,” Kissin, 42, said in Hebrew upon receiving his citizenship on Saturday night in Jerusalem. “Now I can tell the whole world not only I am a Jew, but also I am an Israeli.”
He was presented with his Israeli identification card and passport by Minister of Immigration and Absorption Sofa Landver and Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky, according to the Jewish Agency.
Kissin, who travels frequently and is not permanently based in Israel, asked one year ago to become a citizen of Israel. Sharansky recommended that the Israeli government grant the request due to Kissin’s “significant contribution to Israel in the international arena,” according to the Jewish Agency, which said he has been an activist in fighting attacks on Israel’s legitimacy.
The Moscow native appears regularly with leading conductors at major music festivals and has been awarded two Grammy Awards. He received an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University in 2010.