Staunton, Aug. 18 – Since Vladimir Putin launched his expanded invasion of Ukraine on February 4, 20,500, or approximately one in every eight of the approximately 165,000 Jews who were living in the Russian Federation at that time, has left, according to the Sochnut Jewish Agency.
At least part of them, Pinchas Goldschmidt, the chief rabbi of Moscow until he emigrated in July, says did so because of fears that they might be persecuted for real or assumed criticism of Russia’s military actions (thinktanks.by/publication/2022/08/18/sohnut-s-fevralya-2022-goda-rossiyu-pokinul-kazhdyy-vosmoy-evrey.html).
This latest exodus, which likely involved younger and more highly educated Jews, constitutes a serious brain drain as far as Russia is concerned; and a desire to block it may be one of the reasons that the Russian justice ministry sought to close Sokhnut, an action that Vladimir Putin reversed after talks with Israeli leaders.
More seriously, the departure of this cohort of Jews from Russia and the reduction of the community to under 150,000 likely mean that the Jewish community in that could is going to find it difficult if not impossible to sustain itself and that as that becomes ever more apparent, ever more of the remaining Jews there will choose to leave for Israel or the West.
All this comes on what is the 50th anniversary of the exodus of Jews from the Soviet Union.