(JTA) – A prominent rabbi from Russia condemned in harsh terms a ruling by a court in the Black Sea coastal city of Sochi that blacklisted and labeled extremist a book penned by a 19th-century rabbi.
Rabbi Boruch Gorin, a senior aide to Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar and a key figure within Russia’s Chabad-affiliated Federation of Jewish Communities, called “absurd” Monday’s ruling by a district court in the city to classify as extremist the book “Forcibly Baptized” by Rabbi Marcus Lehmann.
The novel, which deals with a Jew’s determination to retain his faith despite external pressures to renounce it, was added to the federal list of extremist materials of the Ministry of Justice of Russia.
In his scathing rebuke, Gorin, a book publisher by profession, said the decision was “a mockery of justice” that belonged in the 19th century. He also suggested it was part of a judicial policy in Sochi to limit the growth of Jewish spiritual life, and went on to compare the move to tendencies to distort the history of the Holocaust in Lithuania.
Gorin’s rebuke was the latest and sharpest in a series of comments reflecting discomfort with authorities and the judiciary by a man who serves as the senior-most spokesperson for Lazar. The chief rabbi’s Federation of Jewish Communities has worked closely with the Kremlin on projects related to Jewish life in Russia, which has blossomed under President Vladimir Putin, whose government has allocated land for the construction of many synagogues.