By COLlive reporter
“In those days, at this time.”
Rabbi Yossi Marozov, who served as the Chabad Shliach and the Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community in Ulyanovsk, a city on the Volga river in Russia, is the latest target of Russian authorities.
On December 26, 2017, Marozov reported to his community that, “Today is a sad day for Russia,” noting that “Unfortunately the panel of judges ruled in favor of the KGB.”
He was referring to the FSB – Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation and successor agency to the USSR’s Committee of State Security. They accused the rabbi of leading “extremist activity.”
Despite efforts, the decision to revoke the residence permit of the American born rabbi came into effect on January 27. The rabbi’s permit was valid until 2021. The permit of his wife Suri Marozov was until 2020.
Marozov, who volunteered as a youth in Chabad’s camp in Moscow, was invited to return to Russia 12 years ago at the request of Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, a Chabad official and leader of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS.
Marozov is the great-grandson Rabbi Chonye Marozov, secretary of the Rebbe Rashab and the Rebbe Rayatz who helped build and expand the network of shuls and schools around Russia during the murderous Stalin years.
Yossi Marozov was assigned to lead the Jewish community in Ulyanovsk, the birthplace of Communist leader Vladimir Lenin. Over the years he has been successful in opening the city’s first Jewish preschool and school, a kosher cafe, a Mikvah and renovating the synagogue to hosting a daily minyan.
Marozov has been especially active in public affairs, signing an “accord of mutual cooperation” with Regional Governor Sergei Morozov (no known family connection) and joining a board run by the regional police department.
“Everyone remembers how not long ago, they had to hide their Jewish identity,” Marozov commented in 2010. “Now, on the very streets where Communism [flourished], they are proudly parading as Jewish with the full support of the government.”
In May 2017, the migration department of the regional police department appealed to the court with a demand to annul Marozov’s residence permit. The FSB accused him of “extremist activity” but did not spell out the nature of it. The residence permit was annulled by a court decision.
Marozov appealed the decision to the regional court and the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation but lost both courts.
On January 27, 2018, the decision of the Supreme Court took effect. Russian media reported that Marozov had already left Russia for the United States. His wife and six of their children are in Russia.
The JTA news agency reported that Marozov was the 8th foreign-born Chabad Rabbi to be forced to leave the country over the past decade.
Boruch Gorin, a senior aide to Rabbi Lazar, said these expulsions were an attempt by the state to limit the number of foreign clerics living in Russia – an effort that has led to expulsions not only of rabbis but also of imams and Protestant priests.
“It’s not targeting the Jews,” he said, according to JTA. “Rather, Jews are “collateral damage” in this broader effort.”