The Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim—representing over 950 American rabbis—calls on the Russian government to do immediate justice by releasing Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter being unlawfully held by Russian authorities. Gershkovich is a Jew who was born to American immigrants from the Soviet Union, where his parents and other Jews suffered persecution and repression for their religion. His grandmother would cover the windows with blankets before lighting Friday night candles in order to avoid detection and subsequent persecution. Gershkovich was arrested approximately two months ago by Russian authorities on fabricated espionage charges which both he and the U.S. government deny. Under the direction of President Joe Biden, the State Department has designated him as “wrongfully detained.” It is an ominous sign that a specifically Jewish man is the only American arrested by Russians on the charge of spying since the end of the Cold War.

Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, said, “the Rabbinical Alliance of America encourages efforts to free Evan Gerhskovich from his imprisonment. This constitutes a very important mitzvah of Pidyon Shvuyim, the redemption of an innocent prisoner held in captivity.” Mirocznik stressed that on Memorial Day we remember the valiant, heroic service of our soldiers who fought for liberty, freedom and democracy. Mirocznik continued, “As Americans, we condemn how our fellow citizen, Evan Gershkovich, has been unlawfully arrested and detained by Russian officials. As Jews, we are offended by the apparent resurgence of governmental Russian antisemitism. As rabbis, we protest this injustice and demand that Russia does the just, moral thing and immediately frees Evan Gershkovich so he can safely return to his family. We further thank President Biden and the State Department for exerting all efforts in the release of Evan Gershkovich. We pray that the Al-mighty grant these efforts success and that we as a Jewish community are able to celebrate the release and safe return of our persecuted brother, Evan Gershkovich.”