Jews should leave Russia 'before it's too late,' says former chief rabbi of Moscow

Pinchas Goldschmidt
Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the European Rabbinical Conference.Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images
  • The former chief rabbi of Moscow is urging Jews to leave Russia.

  • Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt himself fled the country following last year's invasion of Ukraine.

  • Russia on Friday labeled Goldschmidt a "foreign agent," citing his opposition to the war.

The former chief rabbi of Moscow is urging his fellow Jews to leave Russia immediately, warning that the country has fundamentally changed after the Ukraine invasion.

In a statement on Saturday, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, who himself fled the country in March 2022, noted that he had spent three decades supporting the Jews of Russia. But Goldschmidt, who now resides in Israel, said his coreligionists should get out too, having previously warned that they risk being scapegoated for the failure of Russia's "special military operation."

"Russia has changed its face," he said in a July 1 statement, as reported by The Jerusalem Post. "I call on the Jewish community to leave the country, before it is too late."

Goldschmidt, who began serving the Moscow Choral Synagogue in 1993 and now leads the Conference of European Rabbis, had previously called Russia's invasion of Ukraine a "catastrophe" for Jews in the region. Speaking to The Guardian last year, he also noted that Russia, like other countries, has a history of elites stoking antisemitism to "redirect the anger and discontent of the masses."

The rabbi's exhortation came after the Russian Justice Ministry on Friday declared him a "foreign agent," The Times of Israel reported.

In his statement, Goldschmidt argued that the label was a badge of honor, saying he is "proud to be on the right side of history and to join a distinguished list of people who oppose an unjustified operation and the harming of innocents."

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