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No glory in abandoning Russian Jewry

17 3 1
12.06.2022

The repeated attacks against Chabad and Rabbi Berel Lazar for servicing the Russian Jewish community should have each and every one of us asking: if our own country were taken over by a totalitarian war criminal who waged war against another country and isolated us from the world, what would we want our own rabbi to be doing. Packing up and running away would probably be the last option to cross our minds. None of us demand Rabbi Yehuda Gerami, the Chief Rabbi of Iran, abandon his community, nor did any British Jews judge German rabbis for not protesting in Berlin during WWI.

Defamatory revisionist history propagated against Chabad in outlets ranging from Politico to Ha’aretz have led this false charge against Chabad for their crime of remaining in Russia and servicing more than 175,000 Russian Jews – a community larger than the UK’s Jewish community. As a nation with the vastest history and breadth of dispersion among the nations, the ethic of making sure Jewish life is viable and vital, wherever it may be, is essential to our history and existence. We cannot conflate servicing local Jewish communities with the actions of foreign governments.

Mark Twain famously said: “A lie can travel around the world and back again while the truth is lacing up its boots.” It defies logic and is a crime against history to imply in any way that Lubavich have entered a “Faustian Bargain,” in collaboration, or complicit in any way with the Russian government.

In addition to the underlying defamatory oped in Ha’aretz titled “Chabad’s Long Faustian Bargain With Russia and Putin,” the author Lev Stesin writes: “Had the Soviets accommodated the Rebbe’s very modest demands and thus preserved some semblance of Jewish religious life, as they did with most other religious groups, the life of Soviet Jews could have been very different.

But that compromise was not to be, as the Bolsheviks viewed Jews not as a nation but as a class to be eliminated. There would be no Berel Lazar taking pictures next to Lenin.”. The extent to which this is untrue is appalling.

Personally, as someone whose family is on record fighting against Russia’s evils for more than a century, I find these repeated attacks against Chabad to be personally and historically unforgivable.

My great-great grandfather was Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Spair, the Chief Rabbi of Saratov in Russia. After the Bolshevik revolution, he refused to comply with the Soviet demands to shut down Jewish life, and was wanted by the Bolsheviks. His son, Rabbi Yisrael Sapir, a rabbi in Petach Tikva at the time, noticed that his father’s life was in danger. After informing the British government of the danger to his father’s life, Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Sapir was given a certificate and........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)


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