Chabad rabbi shot, seriously wounded in Dagestan

Police say they are considering “religious motivations” for shooting of Rabbi Ovadia Isakov, but are exploring all leads.

Dagestan village370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Dagestan village370
(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 Thursday.
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.
He is currently in intensive care and reported to be on a respirator.
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.
The 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.
The EJC is in close contact with its local affiliate and is keeping tabs on the Russian investigation, EJC secretarygeneral Serge Cwajgenbaum stated.
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 known.
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 justice.”
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. •