Russia bans entry to numerous US Jews including Chabad rabbis

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Russia bans entry to numerous US Jews including Chabad rabbis

The list of 963 people includes three leaders of the Jewish group's umbrella body, Agudas Chassidei Chabad. Others banned entry such as John McCain are dead.

Russian President Vladimir Putin .(Aleksey Nikolskyi, Sputnik Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin .(Aleksey Nikolskyi, Sputnik Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Among the many Jews on Russia’s latest list of Americans banned entry are three Chabad rabbis, in possible retaliation for Chabad’s decades-long effort to recover texts and artefacts that the Soviets took from the movement.

The list of 963 Americans posted on Saturday includes three leaders of Chabad’s umbrella body, Agudas Chassidei Chabad. They are:

Rabbi Avraham Shemtov, the chairman of the executive of the umbrella body, a founder of the Washington office of the movement;

Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, the umbrella group’s secretary, who heads the educational and social arms of Chabad-Lubavitch;

Rabbi Shlomo Cunin, a West Coast leader of the movement who is prominent in the branch of the movement seeking the return of the texts.
Chabad Online, a news site that covers the movement, said the men were likely included on the list because of Chabad’s continued advocacy for Russia to release the texts.

A lawyer for Chabad told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Russia’s war against Ukraine has invigorated the efforts to recoup the collection of sacred texts, known as the Schneerson library and archive.

That’s because the United States’ effort to seize Russian assets is seen as strengthening Chabad’s own bid to seize Russian wealth to pay more than $165 million in court-ordered fines that the country owes for not returning the texts.

Russia released the list explicitly to retaliate against expanded U.S. sanctions against Russia for its unprompted war against Ukraine. It’s not always clear what qualifies an American for entry on the list; some entries offer perfunctory explanations — the three rabbis have their Chabad titles listed — and others that simply say “U.S. citizen.” Some people banned entry into the United States, such as former Sen. John McCain, are dead, and even listed as such.

The list also includes Nathan and Alyza Lewin, a father-daughter Supreme Court lawyer team who have represented Jewish groups on a number of religious liberty issues. Nathan Lewin has also represented Chabad in the Russia case, while Alyza Lewin is president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law.

Also on the list are Tim Naftali, a noted presidential historian who has analysed Russia-U.S. tensions; Jewish Congress members, including Democrats Steve Cohen of Tennessee, Jerry Nadler of New York, Alan Lowenthal of California, Andy Levin of Michigan, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Republicans Lee Zeldin of New York and David Kustoff of Tennessee; and Ellen Weintraub, a federal election commissioner.

Jewish actor Rob Reiner is listed, not for directing “Spinal Tap” and other comedic classics but for founding “Investigate Russia,” a now-dormant website that tracked the investigation into Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Among the journalists listed is Susan Glasser, the foreign affairs expert who recently coauthored with her husband Peter Baker “Kremlin Rising: Putin’s Russia and the Counter-Revolution.”

Then there are the mysteries, the folks with obvious Jewish names listed only as U.S. citizens, among them Moshe Cohen and Avrohom Yitzhak Weisfish.

Many of those listed have mocked their entries, noting that they have no intention of entering Russia and no assets Russia can sanction. Chabad Online led its article on the listing with the Russian word for “Goodbye” — “Dasvidaniya!”

Chabad represents a prominent thread of Jewish life in Russia. The war has put its local leaders in a difficult position, as they seek to continue to serve the hundreds of thousands of Jews who live there while also remaining part of an international movement with emotional ties to Ukraine.

Chabad of Russia is associated with a Jewish museum where some of the Schneerson library is currently housed.

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.

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...


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.


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.


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.


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: