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U.S. rabbi leaves Russia after losing appeal

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An American rabbi left Russia after a Russian district court upheld a ruling ordering his expulsion.

Rabbi Yisroel Silberstein was serving the country’s Primorye region, according to lubavitch.com.

The district court in Vladivostok ruled Feb. 12 that Silberstein violated the terms of his visa by serving as a religious leader. His visa had been issued for promoting cultural ties, according to Russia’s Interfax agency.

On Wednesday, the court rejected Silberstein’s appeal. Silberstein, who had been in Russia for 2 1/2 years, left for New York that night, according to lubavitch.com.

One of Russia’s two chief rabbis, Berel Lazar, said the Jewish community will protest the ruling, Interfax reported.

The Jewish community is outraged at these policies which target Jewish spiritual workers who are foreign citizens," said Alexander "Sasha" Boroda, director of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, said in a statement. "This trend could significantly redraw the map of faith-based work in Russia, making it extremely difficult to perform spiritual work on behalf of the Jewish community.”

Boroda added that the work of a rabbi falls within the definition of “cultural activities.”

Two rabbis in Rostov-on-Don were expelled recently on similar charges.
 

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