Moscow Asks Steinsaltz Yeshiva to Vacate School’s Premises

The yeshiva established in Moscow by Israeli Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz has been asked to vacate its premises by the Moscow municipality.

The mayor’s office, which granted Steinsaltz the building last year, gave the yeshiva a week to vacate last Friday. However, there was no indication it would be moving.

In New York, Rabbi Arthur Schneier said the yeshiva had only been given the building for a year and that these orders were to be expected. Schneier said the Moscow municipality had indicated it wanted to sell the building housing the Judaic Studies Center.

However, he said the continuation of the yeshiva has the support of Professor Evgeny Velikhov, chairman of the Soviet Academy of Sciences.

Velikhov is currently out of the country, believed to be in Japan. The men who administer the yeshiva told the authorities they would not make a move before Velikhov returns.

In Jerusalem, Steinsaltz himself declined to comment, but a spokesman for the rabbi said the eviction order was “not ideological,” and spoke to the Jerusalem Post of “bureaucratic infighting” between the municipality and the Soviet Academy of World Civilization, under which the yeshiva operates.

Velikhov, who heads the academy, was reportedly seeking premises to relocate the yeshiva. A source who asked not to be identified reported that the matter had been quietly taken of.

The yeshiva currently has 30 full-time students, including long-term refuseniks Vladimir Raiz and Vladimir Dashevsky.

Raiz, a 16-year refusenik, is a resident of Vilna but lives in Moscow to attend the yeshiva.

Shoshana Cardin, chairwoman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, said, “The authorities’ implied threat in their precipitous issuance just prior the Jewish Sabbath, of the order to vacate the premises of a yeshiva … is surprising in this era of glasnost.

“We trust that this matter will be reviewed expeditiously and that either the yeshiva will be permitted to remain in its quarters or alternate facilities will be made available,” said Cardin.

NEXT STORY