In an interview with the Guardian, Pinchas Goldshmidt, the former head rabbi of Moscow who left the nation earlier this year, advised other Russian Jews to escape before it’s too late.
According to Goldschmidt, when the political system was in danger throughout Russian history, the Kremlin would attempt to channel public resentment and hostility toward the Jewish community.
During the Tsarist era and after the Stalinist dictatorship, we observed this.
He asserted that a comparable environment is beginning to be fostered by Russia’s bumbling invasion of Ukraine.
“We are witnessing an increase in anti-Semitism as Russia transitions back to a new form of the Soviet Union, and the Iron Curtain gradually comes down again. For this reason, I think leaving is the wisest course of action for Russian Jews,” Goldschmidt added.
Born in Switzerland but serving Russian Jewry since 1989, Goldschmidt departed the nation in June, almost four months after Russia started its invasion.
He claimed that he was under pressure to back the attack and was concerned about how his rejection could affect the Jewish population of Moscow.
“Community leaders were under pressure to back the war, but I refused to do so. I quit because it would be problematic for the community to have me stay as Chief Rabbi of Moscow.
Others in Russia, including the director of the Choral Synagogue in Moscow, who elected him chief rabbi immediately after he left, refuted that assertion.
Other Jewish leaders in Russia have remained, like Rabbi Berel Lazar of the Hasidic Chabad-Lubavitch community, who has opposed the war despite being long regarded as close to Putin.
But since the war started in late February, Russians of all ethnicities, including Jews, have been fleeing the country in great numbers.
Of the 165,000 Jews in Russia, it was projected that more than 20,000 had left the nation by the end of August.
The Conference of European Rabbis President Goldschmidt also spoke with the Guardian on other matters affecting European Jews, including the rise of anti-Semitism globally and how European Jews’ circumstances were comparable to those of Jews in the United States.
According to Goldschmidt, “for many years, Jews in the United States thought it was an exception and that whatever happened in Europe and other nations could never happen there.
But there have been more attacks on Jews there than in Europe over the last three years.
The political system is becoming much more divisive, and social media has changed how people talk about things.
The current polarization has dramatically increased the acceptability of antisemitism.
In the interview, Goldschmidt refuted Putin’s assertion that Ukraine is a Nazi state by praising its Jewish community.
Show me another Nazi-controlled nation where the Jewish population is growing, said Goldschmidt.