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Ex-Moscow chief rabbi slams Russia for trying to shut down Jewish Agency

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, chief of the Conference of European Rabbis, at a news conference in Berlin, Germany, July 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer, file)
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, chief of the Conference of European Rabbis, at a news conference in Berlin, Germany, July 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer, file)

Former Moscow chief rabbi rails against Russian authorities for working to shutter the Jewish Agency, claiming their efforts will have a boomerang effect and ultimately encourage more Jewish Russians to immigrate to Israel.

“What the Jewish Agency didn’t succeed in doing in terms of encouraging the Jewish community to immigrate, the Russian government has, with its policies over the past few months with the fighting in Ukraine,” Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt says in a statement.

In recent weeks, Russian authorities have taken a number of steps to halt the operations of the Jewish Agency, a quasi-governmental organization that facilitates and encourages Jewish immigration to Israel. One of the claims by Russian officials is that the Jewish Agency is instigating a “brain drain” of the country by specifically seeking out educated Russian Jews and encouraging them to emigrate.

“If Russia wants to stop the brain drain and stop the exodus of its best sons, there is a simple way to do this: Immediately stop the war,” Goldschmidt says.

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