‘The Kremlin tried to recruit me – but when I condemned the war, I was forced into exile’

When the chief rabbi of Moscow was summoned by Putin’s FSB agents to Sadovnicheskaya Street police station in 2003, they had one goal: to turn him into a Russian agent.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, who had been chief rabbi for the previous decade, was able to resist the Russian state in their efforts to turn him. But when Russia invaded Ukraine two years ago, his time was up.

Having refused to endorse the war, Rabbi Goldschmidt fled, first to Hungary and then Israel, urging other Jewish people to leave Russia while they could. He was designated a “foreign agent” by the Kremlin for his criticism of Putin, whose rise he had witnessed at close quarters.


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