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July 8, 2022 10:16 am

‘I Couldn’t Remain Silent:’ Moscow Chief Rabbi Resigns Over Russian Invasion of Ukraine

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Pinchas Goldschmidt, the Chief Rabbi of Moscow. Photo: Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader

The chief rabbi of Moscow has resigned from his post, declaring that he “could not remain silent” in the face of the Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine and claiming that the Jewish community in the Russian capital would have been “endangered” had he stayed in the position.

In a statement issued on Friday in his capacity as president of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt remarked that as “the terrible war against Ukraine unfolded over the last few months, I could not remain silent, viewing so much human suffering, I went to assist the refugees in Eastern Europe and spoke out against the war.”

Continued Goldschmidt: “As time progressed, despite re-electing me to the position of Chief Rabbi last month, it became clear that the Jewish community of Moscow would be endangered by me remaining in my position. Sad as I am, in the circumstances, it is clearly in the interest of the future of the community that I now leave my post.”

The rabbi expressed gratitude for having been “given the opportunity to take part in the historic renaissance of Russian Jewry for the last 33 years from the time of the fall of the Soviet Union.” He said that he and his wife Dara “did our best to navigate and build the community through the tumultuous 1990s and in the increasingly authoritarian Russia under the current president,” Vladimir Putin.

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Goldschmidt is reported to have left Russia just two weeks into the invasion, moving first to Hungary and then to Israel. At the time, Goldschmidt cited the illness of his father, who lives in Jerusalem, as the reason for his absence.

In an interview with German broadcaster DW in early June, Goldschmidt — who has criticized Russia’s war against Ukraine on a number of occasions — noted that a “significant part” of the Jewish community had left Russia as a result of the invasion, adding that “the other significant part thinks about it.”

A spokesperson for Moscow Jewish Religious Community (MERO) confirmed in an interview with Russian state broadcaster RBC that Goldschmidt had left his post.

“There is no question of successors, perhaps there won’t be any at all … There is no replacement today,” Olga Yessaulova said.



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