After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the
overthrow of the Communist Party power in
Moscow, great efforts were made to gather the
Jewish community, improve their conditions and
develop their cultural assets.
But this year, two weeks after the war with Ukraine
began, Rabbi Goldschmidt and his family left Russia,
first to Hungary and then to Israel. After leaving the
country, he resigned as Chief Rabbi and made
statements critical of the war.
"I needed to show that I did not accept the invasion of
Ukraine in any way, but I would have put myself in
danger if I did that while I was living in Moscow," he
But a section of the Jewish community in Russia
criticized Goldschmidt for speaking when he left the
country and said that these statements could make the
community a target in general. But Goldschmidt says
he has the support of the majority.
"Some of them said, 'How could you leave us here?'
"I got messages asking. But the vast majority gave
very strong support. Deciding to leave the country
was not an easy decision. For me and my wife, the
community was our whole life," he says.
As a result, thousands of Jews left the country in the
footsteps of Goldschmidt, who thought that staying in
the country and taking a critical stance would put the
community in greater danger.
Most of those who left used the opportunity to go to
Israel's "Law of Return" grants citizenship to anyone
who can prove at least one grandparent was Jewish.
"I thought for a while why there was such a rushed
exodus, because there wasn't such a big increase in
anti-Semitism," says Anna Shternshis, an expert on
Hebrew and Jewish history in Russia at the
University of Toronto, Canada. and it is stated that it
is caused by unnecessary statements made by the
“But when I look at it later as a historian, I realized
that whenever there was a change, a social upheaval
in Russia, the Jews were always in danger,” he
continues, giving examples from history.
"This fear doesn't move everyone, but every Jew in
Russia is thinking about it today," says Professor
Shternshis, a Jew who was born and raised in Russia.
“In Russia, the authorities are not very clear and have
a bad disposition: Jews are one of the segments they
target in their propaganda. Traditionally, we are a
very useful society when an internal enemy is sought.
My great-grandparents have suffered in the past,” he
"Suddenly you see this on the news and you're
asking, 'What step is going to follow this?'. We think
we're not safe, that we might lose our job or go to
jail. Things are starting to get very scary," he says.
This situation seems to give Russia a great headache
in the coming years.