Pinchas Goldschmidt (born 21 July 1963) has been the Chief Rabbi of Moscow, Russia since 1993. serving at the Moscow Choral Synagogue. He also founded and heads the Moscow Rabbinical court of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) since 1989, and since 2011 serves as President of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER) which unites over seven hundred communal rabbis from Dublin to Khabarovsk.
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, who was born in Zurich, Switzerland, is a central figure in the Russian Jewish community and has served as Chief Rabbi of Moscow since 1993. He is the spiritual leader of the central synagogue of Moscow and founded and heads the Moscow Rabbinical Court of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). He is a senior figure in the Congress of the Jewish Religious Organizations and Associations in Russia, a major umbrella organization of Jewish communities in Russia. In 1990 he created the guidelines in conjunction with the Israeli Ministry of Interior to reconfirm Jews who have hidden their Jewish identity during Soviet times.
Goldschmidt arrived in Russia in 1989 and began playing an instrumental role in re-establishing Jewish life and the communal structures of the community, including schools, kindergartens, a rabbinical court, a burial society, kosher restaurants, soup kitchens, rabbinical schools and political umbrella structures, such as the Russian Jewish Congress and the Congress of the Jewish Religious Organizations and Associations in Russia (CJROAR).
Goldschmidt represents the Russian Jewish community politically. He published op-eds in the international press pertaining to the issues of the day. He has also addressed the US Senate, the EU Parliament, the Council of Europe, the Israeli Knesset, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's "Neeman Commission", Oxford University, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Berlin Conference on anti-Semitism, and Harvard University, discussing the state of the Jewish Community and threats to it.
In January 2005, five hundred people, including newspaper editors, public intellectuals and 19 Duma deputies published an appeal to the Prosecutor General of Russia. The petitioners called for the closure of Jewish organized life in Russia. A subsequent television call-in show, during which 100,000 people phoned in, revealed that 54% of the participants supported the idea of banning all Jewish organizations in Russia. Goldschmidt wrote a detailed response to all the accusations and addressed the letter to Dmitriy Rogozin, leader of the nationalist Rodina (Motherland) party, who, after receiving Goldschmidt's letter, apologized and distanced himself from the petition.
Goldschmidt was deported from Russia during September 2005, but was allowed to return to the community after three months, after an international campaign. In 2010 by special order of Russia's president, Dmitry Medvedev, he was made a citizen of Russia. He takes an active part in interfaith dialogue gatherings with Christians and Muslims in New York, Paris,[failed verification] Astana, Seville, Vienna and Moscow.
Goldschmidt, besides his rabbinical ordination, possesses an MA from Ner Israel Rabbinical College, as well as a MS from Johns Hopkins University. He also studied at Ponevezh Yeshiva, (1979–1981), Telshe Yeshiva, Chicago, Il (1981–1982), Shevet Umechokek Institute for Rabbinical Judges headed by Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, (1985–1986) and Harry Fischel Institute for Talmudic Research, Jerusalem, Israel (1986–1987). He has authored articles on issues of Jewish law regarding post-Soviet Jewry and has published a collection of responsas with a compilation of Russian Jewish names "Zikaron Basefer", (Moscow 1996).
Rabbi Goldschmidt has been awarded Certification as candidate for the Position of Chief Rabbi in Israel or in one of the cities in Israel by the Council of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel in the year 2002. Rabbi Goldschmidt is married and has seven children.
Since July 2011, Goldschmidt is the new president of the Conference of European Rabbis. He was elected by the CER's Standing Committee meeting in London and succeeds the former Chief Rabbi of France (1987–2009), Joseph Sitruk, who had held the post since 1999. Only the fourth president of the CER in its 54-year history, Rabbi Goldschmidt is the first to hold the post from outside Western Europe.
In his role as president of the CER, Goldschmidt has focused on ensuring Jewish continuity in Europe, as well as fighting legislation across European countries against ritual slaughter and circumcision.
Under Goldschmidt, the CER has also engaged in interfaith dialogue and was a leading figure in authoring and gaining endorsement for the 2016 document “From Jerusalem to Rome”, the first Jewish theological response to the Catholic church’s Nostra Aetate, issued 51 years ago, which repudiated the notion of the collective guilt of the Jewish people for Jesus’s death.
The rabbi also established the Muslim Jewish Leadership Council to help create a dialogue between Europe’s Muslims and Jews and to renew respect and appreciation of religious identities.
On July 27, 2016 the Government of the French Republic awarded to Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt the title of Chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of Honor for his paramount contribution to the strengthening of relations between Russia and France.
In November 2018 Rabbi Goldschmidt has made an appeal to Israel and the Jewish world to stay away from nationalistic, populist and xenophobe parties and not to encourage controversial relationships in exchange for loud defences of the Jewish State and unacceptable declarations of friendship.
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