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“Moscow Memoirs” – Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt




The story of the historic renaissance of Judaism behind the Iron Curtain after the fall of Communism has not been written yet. This is a first, the story from the inside, not a hagiography, but a historical first person account of the trials and turbulence in the post Soviet countries, giving a remarkable insight into one of the most interesting periods in Jewish history.


The memoir of Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt is part page-turner and part inspirational — this story takes the reader on a breathless adventure across Switzerland, Israel, and Russia. Spanning 1989-2022, it travels from the bleakness of Soviet Moscow to the chaos of the post-communist era, from the glitter of the oligarchs’ yachts to the current collapse of Russian society with its brutal invasion of Ukraine.

Rabbi Goldschmidt and his wife Dara arrived in Moscow as a young couple; he quickly grew to prominence when he was elected as chief rabbi of Moscow in 1993. From orphanages to rabbinical courts, from day schools to political organizations, Goldschmidt was at the center of building it all. This memoir tells the story of an impossible renaissance that took place in Russia’s capital: The flourishing of a Jewish community in the very heart of a land that for centuries was committed to its destruction. It is a story replete with never-before told history, heartrending anecdotes about what it means to be a Jew in Russia, firsthand testimonies of meetings with heads of state and public figures, all while helping a community awaken from a state-enforced silence to rediscover its heritage.

This memoir describes numerous run-ins with the KGB and then the FSB secret service; the emergence of Russia’s oligarchs and their massive influence on the Moscow Jewish community; the in-fighting within the developing community; the local antisemitism under the surface; and the maturation of Russian Jewry to where it is today.

Rabbi Goldschmidt was at the pulsing heart of Russia’s roller coaster for the last thirty years — and the story he has to tell, from his front seat in Russia’s most historic synagogue, is unlike any other about Russia today.

Now, for the first time ever, Rabbi Goldschmidt is finally free to share his story.

This book is a crossover between the powerful and historically significant memoir of Rabbi Israel Meir Lau and the Moscow-set memoir of Bill Browder— a story of Russia that is not only riveting but is inspiring, telling the story of sacrifice, of what community-building is really like, appealing to secular and religious readers alike.

It will be first published in Hebrew by Yediot Achronot publishing.

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