The family of Moscow’s leading rabbi has left the country, citing “authoritative pressure” to back the Ukraine war
According to his family, Moscow’s head rabbi has fled the country after being “pressed by authorities” to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
According to a tweet by New York-based writer Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt, who is married to Rabbi Benjamin Goldschmidt, one of the Moscow cleric’s seven children, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt and his wife Dara “refused” to support the war.
Two weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine, they travelled to Hungary. “They are now exiled from the community in which they loved, built, and reared their children for 33 years—despite the fact that he was re-elected today by the [Moscow Jewish] community,” she noted, adding separately that “the sorrow and fear in our family in the last few months is beyond words.”
Rabbi Goldschmidt, who is also the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, has been the director of the Moscow Choral Synagogue for the past 33 years, according to i24news.tv, an Israeli news website.
According to accounts, the Moscow-based preacher initially visited places in Europe where Jewish refugees from Ukraine were being cared for. He then traveled to Israel for the annual Passover holiday as well as to care for his father, who was ill. According to the Jerusalem Post, Rabbi Goldschmidt said in a statement that he would “continue to serve as chairman of the Rabbinical Court of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltic States,” but that he had “transferred” his responsibilities to his assistant because he didn’t know when he would go back to Russia.
Since Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the order for Russia to invade Ukraine as a “special operation,” it has become hard for clergy of many different faiths in Russia.
Hundreds of Russian Orthodox clergy signed a statement in March criticizing Patriarch Kirill’s support for the war, which has included blessings on Russian weapons used in the fight. They did this even though it might be against the country’s anti-protest laws.
An automated translation of the letter said, “We, the priests and deacons of the Russian Orthodox Church, each in our own name, appeal to everyone on whom the halt of the fratricidal war in Ukraine rests, with a call for reconciliation and an urgent ceasefire.”