According to Le Figaro, he was pressured by the Kremlin and the FSB
13:25, June 8, 2022Source: Meduza
Chief Rabbi of Moscow Pinchas Goldschmidt left Russia due to pressure from the authorities, who demanded that he speak out in support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This was announced on June 7 by the rabbi’s daughter-in-law, New York-based journalist Avital Chizhik-Goldshmidt.
“Now I can finally report that my father-in-law and mother-in-law, Chief Rabbi of Moscow Pinchas Goldshmidt and Rebbetzin Dara Goldshmidt were pressured by the authorities to publicly support the “special operation” in Ukraine, but they refused,” wrote Chizhik- Goldschmidt.
According to her, the rabbi and his wife flew to Hungary two weeks after the start of the war. They visited several Eastern European countries, where they raised funds to help refugees from Ukraine, and after that they went to Israel, where Goldschmidt’s father was hospitalized.
The rabbi himself told RIA Novosti in early May that he had left Russia, but cited only his father’s illness and hospitalization in Israel as the reason.
The fact that the Chief Rabbi of Moscow was forced to leave because of his refusal to support the war was also reported by the French publication Le Figaro (Goldschmidt’s sister-in-law shared a link to his article) and sources from the Israeli Ynet . According to Le Figaro, the Kremlin and the FSB put pressure on the rabbi. According to Ynet, he is afraid to return to Russia because of the help to Ukrainian refugees and, according to Le Figaro, travels accompanied by three bodyguards.
“ The Conference of European Rabbis , of which Rabbi Goldschmidt is the president, led efforts to support refugees, and now Rabbi Goldschmidt has been advised not to return to Moscow for the time being,” a representative of the rabbi told Meduza. Earlier, Goldschmidt himself told the British The Times about such advice. He added that he could not publicly condemn the invasion because he was responsible for the “survival” of the 500,000-strong Jewish community in Russia .
The war in Ukraine has forced more than half of the country’s Jewish population to flee, Goldschmidt said in a conversation with The Times. In an interview with Deutsche Welle a few days earlier, he had stated that “a very significant proportion” of Jews had also left Russia. “And the other significant part is thinking about it,” the rabbi added.
Pinchas Goldschmidt was born in Switzerland and studied in Israel and the USA. In 1989, he came to the USSR (as stated on his website, with the consent of activists and organizations that supported the underground Jewish movement in the country). Goldshmidt became Chief Rabbi of Moscow in 1993. In addition, he founded and heads the Moscow Rabbinical Court of the CIS countries and, as mentioned above, is the leader of the Conference of European Rabbis.
On June 7, Goldschmidt was again re-elected to the post of Chief Rabbi of Moscow for another seven years. The Jerusalem Post reported , citing a source in the Russian Jewish community, that the country’s authorities tried to prevent his re-election. According to the publication, “many rabbis and Jewish officials [in Russia]” were involved in these attempts, but thanks to the intervention of “high-ranking Israeli rabbis,” Goldschmidt was re-elected.
The Chief Rabbi of Russia, Berl Lazar, remained in the Russian Federation after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, although he opposed the war (avoiding mention of who and why unleashed it). “Our duty to God is to strive with all our might for mutual understanding, for mutual respect, and in no case raise the sword against our brother! <…> I myself am ready for any mediation, ready to do everything in my power, and even more, just to silence the guns, stop the bombs!” Lazar wrote on March 2.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) notes that this statement and criticism of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for his words about Hitler’s “Jewish blood” are unusual for Lazar, who is considered loyal to the Kremlin and even called “Putin’s rabbi.” The head of the public relations department of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, Borukh Gorin, whom the JTA calls Lazar’s speaker, said he was unaware of the pressure on Goldschmidt and was “surprised” by the news.