U.S.-born rabbi called ‘extremist,’ kicked out of Russia


MOSCOW (JTA) — For the eighth time this past decade, Russian authorities told a foreign Chabad rabbi living in Russia to leave the country.

Josef Marozof, a New York-born rabbi who began working 12 years ago for Chabad in the city of Ulyanovsk 400 miles east of Moscow, was ordered earlier this week to leave because the FSB security service said he had been involved in unspecified “extremist behavior.”

Marozof appealed the decision in a supreme court but his appeal was denied Saturday, the news site Jewish.ru reported Tuesday. He, his wife and six children, who were all born in Russia, have left for the United States.

Marozof had a residence permit well into 2021 but it had been revoked over the charges, which he denied and asked they be made public so he could challenge them. The court declined to order the FSB to specify the charges.

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Last year, a court in Krasnodar ordered the deportation of Ari Edelkopf, who had been working as Chabad’s emissary to the city of Sochi, on grounds that he was a threat to national security. Edelkopf’s appeal against the unspecified charge, which he denied, were dismissed.

Chabad of Russia, which enjoys friendly relations with President Vladimir Putin, strongly protested Edelkopf’s expulsion, which the movement said was disconcerting because of the allegation that he endangers state security.

Behind the expulsion of Edelkopf and the other rabbis, according to Boruch Gorin, a senior aide to Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, is an attempt by the state to limit the number of foreign clerics living in Russia – an effort that has led to expulsions not only of rabbis but also of imams and Protestant priests.

“It’s not targeting the Jews,” he said. Rather, Jews are “collateral damage” in this broader effort.

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