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Moscow chief rabbi left Russia over refusal to support war

The Chief Rabbi of Moscow, Pinchas Goldschmidt, left Russia because of his refusal to publicly support the war in Ukraine at the request of the authorities, not only because of his father’s illness, as he claimed before, the rabbi’s daughter-in-law journalist Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt revealed on her Twitter.

The departure of Goldschmidt, who had held his position for more than 30 years, was first reported in early May by Alexander Kargin, director of programs at the Moscow synagogue. “He published a letter yesterday stating he is temporarily shifting his duties as chief rabbi of the Moscow Choral Synagogue onto another person due to his father’s illness. He won’t be in Moscow in the near future. This letter does not say it has anything to do with the situation in Ukraine, he did not state his position,” Kargin said. Later, a statement to the effect that the “temporary” departure was connected to Goldschmit’s father’s hospitalization in Israel was published by the rabbi himself.

Rabbi’s daughter-in-law Chizhik-Goldschmidt said that the rabbi and his wife had indeed left the country in early May. But first the couple visited Hungary, where they collected money to help refugees from Ukraine, and only then went to Jerusalem to visit the hospitalized father. Chizhik-Goldschmit did not specify who exactly had forced the rabbi to support the war and why.

“They have been banished from the community they had been building for more than 33 years where they loved and raised their children,” the journalist and the rabbi’s daughter-in-law wrote.

Goldschmit was succeeded as Chief Rabbi of Moscow by David Yushuvaev.

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