Most Jews have fled Ukraine after Russian invasion, says Moscow chief rabbi
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here
News

Most Jews have fled Ukraine after Russian invasion, says Moscow chief rabbi

Pinchas Goldschmidt has become the first senior Russian religious leader to criticise the Kremlin's "special military operation" in the former Soviet Union country

Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), issued the warning at the Munich Security Conference, during a CER-sponsored debate about social media companies and radicalisation.
Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), issued the warning at the Munich Security Conference, during a CER-sponsored debate about social media companies and radicalisation.

Europe’s foremost orthodox rabbi – a Russian – has said most Jewish Ukrainians have fled their homeland amid President Putin’s invasion.

Moscow’s Chief Rabbi, Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the main grouping of Europe’s Orthodox rabbis, has this week become the first Russian senior religious leader to criticise the fallout from the “special military operation”.

The 58-year-old told The Times he could not go further in publicly condemning the invasion because he had a responsibility to ensure the “survival” of the 500,000-strong Jewish community in Russia.

But the chief rabbi, who left Moscow shortly before the invasion to look after his ill father, 90, in Israel, has been advised by friends against returning to Russia for now.

The invasion has devastated the Jewish community in Ukraine, after 33 years of rebuilding since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Most of the estimated 40,000-400,000 Jews in Ukraine, before the outbreak of war, have joined the exodus to other parts of Europe, Goldschmidt said.

Tens of thousands are believed to have left the country, sometimes en masse.

“It’s a catastrophe,” Goldschmidt said at a meeting of the Conference of European Rabbis in Munich. “Our colleagues who built up Jewish communities in Ukraine for the last 30 years gave their lives [to the project] and they left very comfortable places like the United States and Israel.

“And from one day to the next, all their work building synagogues, building schools, building all of this, they had to leave it with a little suitcase.”

Russian airstrikes and artillery have left 19th-century synagogue building in Mariupol in ruins – it had survived the Nazi occupation in the Second World War.

The Kharkiv Choral synagogue, the largest in Ukraine, was damaged by a Russian missile that landed nearby during the siege of the city. The building housing the local branch of student project Hillel is said to have been destroyed.

Another missile hit Kyiv’s television tower next to the Babyn Yar memorial, which commemorates tens of thousands of Ukrainian Jews massacred by the SS in 1941.

President Zelensky, who is Jewish, said: “Don’t you see why this is happening? This is why it is very important that millions of Jews around the world do not remain silent right now. Nazism is born in silence.”

Asked why he and his organisation would not follow the UN general assembly in condemning the invasion, he said: “There’s a very sizeable Jewish community in Russia and it is our responsibility to ensure the survival of the Jewish community in Russia.”

The conference is supporting more than 1,200 members of the Tikva community who fled the Ukrainian port city of Odesa for Neptun in southeast Romania. It is also assisting at least another thousand Ukrainian Jewish refugees in Moldova and 1,500 in Poland.

Goldschmidt said the 1,500-strong Orthodox community in Vienna had taken in 1,300 displaced Jews from Ukraine.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments