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Russian court sends U.S. rabbi packing

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MOSCOW (JTA) — A far eastern Russian city’s head rabbi, a U.S. citizen, is being deported.

Rabbi Israel Silberstein, 26, did not claim religious activities as the purpose of his visit, the city court in Vladivostok ruled.

The Chabad-run Federation of Jewish Communities plans to appeal Wednesday’s ruling, saying Silberstein’s statement was made in error, an FJC spokesman told JTA. Silberstein has 10 days to file his appeal with the court in Vladivostok, a port city on the Pacific Ocean.

Russian visa applications provide a series of boxes to check indicating the purpose of a trip, and Silberstein checked the box indicating cultural activities, FJC spokesman Danil Yakovlev said.

A spokesman for the Federal Migration Service said the rabbi should have indicated religious activities as the purpose of his visit, according to a report in The Moscow Times.

Silberstein has been in Russia for 2 1/2 years and received his most recent visa 10 weeks ago, Yakovlev said.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow said he could not comment on an individual visa case.
 

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