Swastikas painted, storehouse burned in Passover arson fire at Russian yeshiva

The yeshiva community’s kosher food was gone after an anti-Semitic act of arson at the largest Orthodox Jewish seminary in Russia.

By AP and World Israel News Staff

Jewish officials say an arson fire was set at the largest yeshiva in Russia as religious Jews were gathered there for the Passover seder on Friday evening.

No one was reported injured in the fire at the Toras Chaim school in an eastern Moscow suburb.

Olga Esaulova, a spokeswoman for Moscow’s chief rabbi, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying the fire was set in a storage area for kosher meat and that swastikas were drawn at the yeshiva’s entrance.

There were about 60 students, rabbis and guests in the building at the time, the state news agency RIA-Novosti reported.

Avital Chizhik Goldschmidt of the Forward tweeted on Friday: “Reports from Moscow that the Torat Chaim Yeshiva was attacked…by what seems to be neo-Nazis. Swastikas painted on the doors and the storehouse entirely burned, the yeshiva community’s precious kosher meat/food for Passover gone.”

In October, the Moscow Times reported that Russia, and eastern Europe in general, is currently experiencing its lowest level of anti-Semitism in history. The Russian newspaper said that the decline had been announced by Yuri Kanner, president of the Russian Jewish Congress.

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In a recent survey conducted by the independent Levada Center, based on interviews with Russian Jews and the general population, 80 percent of respondents said that anti-Semitism levels had receded since the Soviet period, the report said. The center describes itself as an independent, Russian non-governmental polling and sociological research organization.

“It’s not possible to say that there are no anti-Semites in Russia, but there are efforts being taken in our country to preempt their possible actions,” Kanner was quoted as saying by the Parlamentskaya Gazeta newspaper.