Russian assailant of rabbi gets four years in jail

MONTREAL — A man who attacked a Jewish community leader and his guests from Montreal on the streets of the Russian city of Ivanovo has been sentenced to four years in prison.

Last June, Rabbi Zvi Hershcovich of Montreal, his wife Chayale and their eight-year-old daughter were assaulted by youths while walking in downtown Ivanovo with Ervin Kirshtein, chair of the city’s Jewish community, as well as local community member Valery Makushev.

On March 3, the Ivanovo Leninsky District Court found local resident Sergey Novikov, 21, guilty of hate-motivated assault. In addition to the jail term, the court ordered Novikov to pay 80,000 rubles (about $3,300 Cdn) in moral damages to Kirshtein and 40,000 rubles to Makushev, according to the Russian news service Interfax, which quoted the Ivanovo region prosecutor’s office press secretary, Valentina Kruchinina.

“Novikov was found guilty of humiliating the dignity of a group of persons on ethnic reasons and attitude to religion, an act committed publicly, including violence, hooliganism and premeditated infliction of bodily injuries not dangerous for human life,” Kruchinina is quoted as saying.

The attack occurred on the first day of Rabbi Hershcovich’s visit to Ivanovo, an industrial city of more than 500,000 residents about 350 miles northeast of Moscow.

The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia had offered him the post of rabbi in that or two other cities. Kirshtein testified that the two attackers threatened to kill him.

Rabbi Hershcovich, a member of the Lubavitch community, is now spiritual leader of the Stavropol Jewish community, his former colleague in Montreal, Rabbi Israel Bernath, told The CJN.