Mar 19, 2009

Rabbis Expelled from Russia

Given the steady rise of xenophobia in Russia over the past 7 or 8 years, this is pretty serious. And of course, anyone with any sort of historical perspective can see this spells trouble. Too bad you probably can't find an accurate history book in Russia.

According to the LA Timnes, last month, Rabbi Yisroel Silberstein, his wife and two children were abruptly deported from Russia, and banned from returning for five years. Zvi Hershcovich, a Canadian rabbi who had been leading a small Jewish community in the southern city of Stavropol, also was expelled. Both men were accused by immigration authorities of visa violations. (I do not know the nature of said violations.)

In response to the expulsions, one of Russia's chief rabbis who is regarded as close to the Kremlin, took the rare step of publicly criticizing the government during a recent meeting between religious leaders and officials.

"Jews have begun to fear for the future of their community in Russia for the first time in many years," said Berel Lazar, the chief rabbi. "In the negative environment of the [financial] crisis, when material problems become exacerbated, some start looking for someone to blame and declare those who are unlike themselves to be guilty."

Russia is home to as many as 1 million Jews, one of the largest Diaspora populations.


Dmitri Minaev said...

Seems like both rabbis were expelled because when filling the visa applications they stated that the aim of their visit to Russia was cultural relationships. The authorities concluded that religious services do not fall into that category.

AFAIK, in 2007 rabbi Silberstein was fined for the same violation. It could be considered by the court as a "habitual violation", making the punishment more serious than it could have been.

In 2008, Zvi Herschcovich was attacked twice by unknown young people. It happened in Stavropol and in Ivanovo. When passers-by interfered, the attackers tried to escape, but were caught. The police tried to classify the crime as an attempt of robbery, but the passers-by heard the attackers shouting "Russia for Russians" and "Jews robbed Russia".

Pirates(and)Diplomats said...

So very sad.

Mrta said...

First, I love the Economist. With a title on a chart like that, who needs data?

Second, I'd like to comment on the fact that for both Americans and West Europeans, Russians have more of a passive dislike of them. They just don't like them living in Russia and being superior all the damn time.