The Chief Rabbi escapes from Russia – and is re-elected

The Chief Rabbi escapes from Russia – and is re-elected

Just before the war, he prayed for peace

Chief Rabbi Goldschmidt (58) criticizes the Kremlin, flees Moscow and is re-elected

The Russian authorities are asking the people to support the war in Ukraine. Moscow’s chief rabbi, Pinchas Goldschmidt, refuses, flees to Israel – and is re-elected anyway.

Pinchas Goldschmidt (58) recently lived in exile. Born in Zurich, the Chief Rabbi of Moscow spent over 30 years of his life in the Russian capital. In early March, shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he left the city for the Israeli capital. At first it was said that Goldschmidt was in Jerusalem because of his elderly father. It is now clear that the chief rabbi left the city because Moscow demanded that he publicly support the war.

The daughter-in-law confirms it on Twitter. American journalist Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt writes that her in-laws are now far from a community they love so much that it hurts. Goldschmidt moved to Moscow in 1989 to establish Jewish communities and raised seven children there. He always expressed his concerns openly. So recently, just before the war, in an interview with Tachles magazine: “We pray for peace. There is not much else we can do in this situation. ‘

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absentee re-election

Russia has been aggressive in Ukraine for months. The Russian authorities also enforce strict censorship in their own country and require the population to support the war – or at least not publicly oppose it. Jewish communities are under pressure as many Jews are fleeing Moscow. Fear of reprisals has been circulating among critics of the Kremlin for years. Goldschmidt will not be the last example, especially since he is not one of the Kremlin’s most important critics.

As Goldschmidt refuses to support the war in Ukraine, it was only recently in Moscow that efforts were made to replace the rabbi. But Goldschmidt was approved earlier this week as Moscow’s chief rabbi for the next seven years. The elections were held in his absence at the Choir Synagogue in the Russian capital.

Goldschmidt’s residence permit in Russia was withdrawn in 2005. Only a few weeks later he got a new visa to Russia. So it’s not the first time that Goldschmidt hasn’t lived in Russia. But this time it’s under pressure. Now he will take care of his congregation in Moscow from Israel.

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