(photo credit: Reuters)
Rabbi Ovadia Isakov, 40, an emissary of the Chabad-Lubavitch hassidic movement,
was shot and seriously wounded in Derbent in the Republic of Dagestan on
Isakov, identified as chief rabbi of Derbent by Chabad sources,
was wounded in the lung after being shot from behind by an unidentified
assailant not far from his home.
The attack took place as the rabbi
exited his car to enter his home in the predominantly Muslim republic.
is currently in intensive care and reported to be on a
Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar has made arrangements to fly
Isakov to Israel for further treatment “as soon as his condition stabilizes,”
according to Chabad’s website.
The website also reported that Russian authorities believed the attack might
have been motivated by the rabbi’s Jewish appearance. Police said they were
considering “religious motivations” but were exploring all leads.
rabbi’s house had been vandalized in 2007.
Dagestan, a republic of
Russia, has a history of Islamic insurgency and has served as a battleground in
clashes between Chechen rebels and federal troops.
The European Jewish
Congress, an umbrella organization representing Jewish communities across the
continent, expressed “deep concern and shock” following the shooting.
EJC is in close contact with its local affiliate and is keeping tabs on the
Russian investigation, EJC secretarygeneral Serge Cwajgenbaum
While he acknowledged “the growth of Islamist extremism in the
region and violence perpetrated by these groups,” Cwajgenbaum was cautious and
said he would reserve comment until the results of the investigation were
Alexander Levin, president of the World Forum of Russian Speaking
Jewry, said he hoped the shooting had not been anti-Semitic in nature and added
he was “sure that the Russian police will bring this terrorist to
Isakov was not the first Chabad rabbi to fall victim to a
shooting attack in recent years.
In 2008, Chabad emissary Gavriel
Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, were killed by Islamists in Mumbai,
India.JTA contributed to this report. •