Moscow’s chief rabbi leaves Russia amid pressure to back war

Pinchas Goldschmidt now lives in exile after refusing to publicly support the ‘special operation’ in Ukraine, a relative says.

Moscow's chief rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt arrives for an international Rabbi meeting in Berlin July 10, 2012 as head of the Conference of European Rabbis .
Moscow's chief rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt flew to Hungary two weeks after the Russian invasion of Ukraine [File: Tobias Schwarz/Reuters]

Moscow’s chief rabbi has left Russia after coming under pressure to support its invasion of Ukraine, according to a relative.

Swiss-born Pinchas Goldschmidt had served as Moscow’s chief rabbi since 1993, while also heading a large European rabbinical group.

“Can finally share that my in-laws, Moscow Chief Rabbi @PinchasRabbi @Rebbetzin Dara Goldschmidt, have been put under pressure by authorities to support the ‘special operation’ in Ukraine – and refused,” Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt tweeted on Tuesday.

Chizhik-Goldschmidt, a New York-based journalist, said that Goldschmidt flew to Hungary two weeks after the February 24 invasion, raising money for refugees in Eastern Europe before continuing on to Israel.

“They are now in exile from the community they loved, built & raised their children in, over 33 years,” Chizhik-Goldschmidt said.

Jewish organisations in Russia have struck a more critical tone on the war in Ukraine than other religious groups, including the powerful Orthodox Church which has backed the campaign.

On March 2, Russia’s chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, called for participants in the conflict to “silence the guns and to stop the bombs”, although he stopped short of condemning President Vladimir Putin.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies