Thousands of Jews flee persecution in Russia

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At least one in eight Jews living in Russia before February’s attack chose to leave. The Jewish Agency for Israel, which helps Jews around the world emigrate there, said 20,500 of the 165,000-strong community have left. Israel’s Law of Return gives anyone who can prove they had at least one Jewish grandparent the right to citizenship there.

Anna Shternshis, Professor of Yiddish studies at Toronto University and a specialist in Jewish history in Russia, said: “We are not seeing a huge surge of anti-Semitism. But… every time something happens in Russia, some upheaval, some change, Jews are always in danger.”

There had been a huge effort to develop Moscow’s Jewish community since the collapse of Communism with Pinchas Goldschmidt, the capital’s chief rabbi since 1993, at its forefront.

But just two weeks into the conflict with Ukraine, Rabbi Goldschmidt and his family left Russia for Israel, via Hungary.

He then stepped down from his role and spoke out against the war, adding: “I felt that I had to do something to show my total disassociation and disagreement with this invasion of Ukraine, but I would have endangered myself if I had done that staying in Moscow.”

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