Rabbi Pinchos Goldschmidt: Jews Must Get Out of Russia Now

FILE - In this July 12, 2012 file photo, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, cheif of the Conference of European Rabbis, gestures during a news conference in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, July 12, 2012. Chief Rabbi Goldschmidt will give the Moshe Rosen Award, which recognizes non-Jews who promote dialogue, understanding and tolerance to ensure a Jewish future in Europe, to founder of Catholic charity Andrea Riccardi during a ceremony Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019 in Rome. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer, file)

Rabbi Pinchos Goldschmidt, the former chief rabbi of Moscow, is sounding the alarm on a rise in antisemitism in Russia and the possible rise of a new Iron Curtain, telling Jews who still live in Russia to leave immediately.

“I’m concerned about the future of the Jewish community in Russia, and I’m not the only one concerned,” Rabbi Goldschmidt told DW News. “Tens of thousands of Jews have left the country since the beginning of the [Ukraine] invasion.”

Rabbi Goldschmidt himself left Russia just two weeks after the war in Ukraine commenced, with his daughter-in-law, Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt, saying that the Kremlin was pressuring him to publicly support the invasion of Ukraine. Rabbi Goldschmidt, however, refused.

Rabbi Goldschmidt now lives in Israel, and he told DW News that he agrees with former Soviet Union refusenik Natan Sharansky that Russian Jews should flee the country when they can.

“I support this view for many reasons,” he said. “There are many reasons why Jews today are concerned about the future of Russia: the rise in antisemitism [and with] the possibility of the closing of the Iron Curtain, it is going to be impossible to leave.”

Rabbi Goldschmidt added that he left Russia because he felt it was incumbent on him to speak out for what is right and true.

“Judaism is a religion of deeds. It’s not only a religion of thoughts and beliefs, it is the actual deed which is important for us. We call this deed a mitzvah,” he said. “Speaking out has been secondary first and most important has been the feeling and the realization that we have to do something to help those thousands of refugees of our communities who had to leave for Eastern Europe just with maybe one suitcase, who didn’t have a roof over their heads.”

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