Russian rabbi, EJC president in row

Moscow’s chief rabbi said he is considering taking the president of the European Jewish Congress to a rabbinical court. Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt said an e-mail apology he received from
Pierre Besnainou was insufficient.During a May 17 governing board meeting to decide the date of the
EJC election, Besnainou lashed out at Goldschmidt after the rabbi argued in support of a vote before the World Jewish Congress presidential elections on June 10. Goldschmidt’s position is supported by Russian Jewish Congress Chairman
Moshe Kantor, Besnainou’s opponent in the EJC election.”Pinchas, you’re not a rabbi, you’re not religious, you’re a disgrace
to the yarmulke, you should take off your yarmulke,” Besnainou said.In a May 21 e-mail to Besnainou obtained by JTA, Goldschmidt demanded that the EJC president apologize.”As a rabbi, I am committed not to overcome or ignore what you said to me, since it is not only a personal insult, but an insult to the Torah,” Goldschmidt wrote.Besnainou in a long e-mail affirmed his respect for Goldschmidt as a rabbi, but also explained his remark.”I have been very disappointed by your attitude these last weeks, and above all during the last meeting,” Besnainou wrote. He went on to say that Goldschmidt was supporting a hidden agenda and acting “as a skilled strategist and no longer as a rabbi.”Goldschmidt found the apology insufficient and informed all 41 EJC community leaders that he was considering the court action.In making their position on the EJC vote, Kantor and a number of
Jewish community leaders said the EJC president should have a strong
mandate when participating in the WJC elections.

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