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Moses blocked from re-appearing in east of Siberia

By The Siberian Times reporter
25 April 2016

Veto of plan for $30,000 statue of prophet holding the Ten Commandments.

Birobidzhan is a homeland where Jews could pursue their Yiddish Cultural Heritage, but can not get the Moses statue. Picture: Vladimir Sevrinovsky

A row has emerged in Russia's Jewish Autonomous Region over proposals for the statue of Moses. The plan came from Valery Gurevich, a founding member of regional capital Birobidzhan's current 4,000-strong Jewish community.

Eli Riss, Birobidzhan's chief rabbi, torpedoed the statue scheme earlier this month, according to Jpost.com - The Jerusalem Post online edition. Gurevich said that Riss had earlier supported his plan. 

Riss denied this and said the Torah religious text offered no description of Moses, so depicting him in a statue would be 'inauthentic'. Featuring the tablet with the Ten Commandments would violate rabbinic law, he said. 

Eli Riss

Eli Riss, Birobidzhan's chief rabbi said the Torah religious text offered no description of Moses. Picture: RIA Birobidzhan

He cited a passage from Leviticus which reads: 'Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it.'

Following his opposition to the plan, it was shelved, he said. Currently less than five per cent of the region's population is Jewish. But the enclave - set up under Stalin as a homeland where Jews could pursue their Yiddish Cultural Heritage - remains along with Israel the only Jewish territory with official status. 

The republic is a federal subject of the Russian state. Birobidzhan is on the Trans-Siberian Railway route. 

Currently less than five per cent of the region's population is Jewish. Picture: The Siberian Times

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