Moscow’s chief rabbi officially ousted; had refused to support Russian invasion

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt has been in Israel since March.

By World Israel News Staff

The longstanding Chief Rabbi of Moscow , who has been in Israel since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, has officially left his position, according to Russian-language media.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, who has served as the city’s chief rabbi since 1993, left Russia for Israel in early March.

At the time, he denied reports that he had fled from Russia due to his refusal to support the war, instead framing his departure as an extended visit to his ill father, who lives in Israel.

In June 2022, he told Yediot Ahronot that he planned on returning to Russia, saying that “[I] do not define myself as an exiled rabbi, I am a rabbi who is not living in his community.”

But Goldschmidt is no longer the Chief Rabbi of Moscow.

Despite voting last month to extend Goldschmidt’s tenure as Chief Rabbi, the board of the Moscow Jewish Religious Society confirmed to Russia news outlet RBC that he was no longer employed in that position.

“The contract has ended. … There is no question of successors, perhaps there will be none,” Olga Yessaulova, a spokesperson from the Moscow Jewish Religious Society, told RBC.

Rabbi Goldschmidt told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “As I say goodbye to Moscow and Russia, I am thinking especially of one man: Albert Reichmann, who proposed me for the post of chief rabbi and who had faith in me that I would be able to fulfill that great responsibility.”

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Reichmann is a Canadian-based philanthropist. Among the many causes he has supported is the revival of post-Soviet Jewish institutions in former eastern bloc countries.

“I am leaving a community in distress. But from the outside, I will do my utmost to help my beloved community,” Rabbi Goldschmidt said.

The report of the rabbi’s ouster comes on the heels of the Kremlin ordering the Jewish Agency to end its operations in Russia.