Monday, September 25th | 11 Tishri 5784

September 15, 2023 12:19 pm

Online Campaign Gathers Thousands of Rosh Hashanah Messages for Evan Gershkovich, American Reporter Imprisoned in Russia

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American reporter Evan Gershkovich is seen at a court hearing in Moscow. Photo: Reuters/Evgenia Novozhenina

More than 2,000 messages of goodwill have been sent to Evan Gershkovich — the Wall Street Journal reporter arbitrarily detained by the Russian authorities earlier this year — as he prepares for his first Rosh Hashanah in Russian captivity.

The online campaign organized by the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) asks visitors “to take a moment to think of Evan and write him a letter, sending him your wishes for the Jewish New Year.”

It adds: “The hopes, prayers, and wishes received will be fused together to create one collective letter that we will send directly to Evan through his lawyers, so that he can hear from you and those who stand with him around the world this New Year.”

Among those participating is the former Soviet Jewish refusenik and past chair of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky, who referred to the infamous Lefortovo prison in Moscow, where he too was incarcerated, in his message to the reporter.

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“Dear Evan, Shana Tova! I’m sure it will be the year of your liberation. Thanks to our prayers, the Jewish solidarity, and the support of your friends and colleagues,” Sharansky wrote. “Probably, you know that Lefortovo was my Alma Mater. I spent there a year and a half of interrogations before the trial. It is very important while resisting the pressure to see a bigger world picture in mind and to be optimistic.”

Gershkovich was detained in late March by Russian authorities on charges of espionage, which his newspaper and the US government counter are baseless. Gershkovich has pleaded not guilty, and the State Department has designated him as “wrongfully detained,” which allows the US government to take more actions to secure his release.

A letter sent by the JFNA to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken immediately following Gershkovich’s detention urged the administration to intensify its efforts. “We appreciate everything you have done to date and urge you to continue to take every step in your power to bring Evan home,” the letter stated. “For us, this is personal.”

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