Thursday’s election of millionaire industrialist Vyacheslav Kantor as acting president of the Russian Jewish Congress could pave the way for the return to Moscow of the city’s chief rabbi, Pinhas Goldschmidt, Jewish sources in the Russian capital said Friday.
Goldschmidt was deported from Russia six weeks ago after authorities claimed his visa had expired.
Kantor will replace Vladimir Slutsker, who has agreed to assume responsibility for the RJC’s foreign and interfaith relations.
Russian Jewish sources assessed that Kantor’s appointment to the post and the compromise reached with Slutsker have significantly boosted the chances of Goldschmidt’s return. Since his deportation, the rabbi has been in Israel, while the governments of the United States, Switzerland (Goldschmidt is a Swiss citizen) and Israel have been working behind the scenes on his behalf.
On a visit to Israel two weeks ago, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov promised his counterpart, Silvan Shalom, that the matter would be resolved soon.
Until the late 1990s, the RJC was considered the leading umbrella organization for Russian Jewry; since then, however, internal strife has seen the organization fall from grace and turn into a weak and uninfluential organization.