Russia’s Jews fearful over ban on military-aged men leaving the country

Amid war with Russia, Rabbi Yonatan Markovich arrives in Israel with family from Ukraine at Ben Gurion Airport, March 3, 2022. (AP/Maya Alleruzzo)

“I’m afraid that the Iron Curtain is coming down again,” a local Russian Jew told The Jerusalem Post.

By World Israel News Staff

After Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization and call-up Wednesday of some 300,000 reserve soldiers and those with previous combat experience, alongside a blanket ban on men aged 18 to 65 from leaving the country, Russian Jewry is experiencing a “new stage in the panic,” according to a local rabbi.

Moscow-based Rabbi Boruch Gordin told the Jerusalem Post that “many Jews actually have the opportunity to leave Russia because they have an Israeli passport or visa. Other people don’t have such a privilege.”

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Now, that ability to flee to Israel appears to have been seriously hampered by the ban. “I’m afraid that the Iron Curtain is coming down again,” a local Russian Jew told the Post.

“Where has the Jewish Agency been until now? Where is the Israeli government and Prime Minister Yair Lapid? Why won’t he make difficult decisions and help tens of thousands of Russian Jews out of Russia?”

Russian Jewry has faced a number of crises in recent months, since the onset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, including a Jewish politician critical of the war being jailed and declared a “foreign agent” due to his Israeli citizenship as well as the Russian government launching a legal battle to curb the activities of the Jewish Agency within the country.

A Jewish community source told the Post that the long-term implications of the call-up are still unclear. For now, with the call-up limited to reservists and military veterans, it seems like a widespread draft of civilian men is still not on the horizon.

“If many Jews will be requested to join the army or if the gates of the country will be closed – this is definitely a situation that we need to address differently,” the source said.


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