Russia probes Jewish Law text for “incitement”

A stir is being caused by a probe by the Russian state prosecuter over Shulan Arukh, a sixteenth-century commentary on Halakha (Jewish law), written in Safed, in what is now northern Israel. The prosecuter is checking if some comments in Shulan Arukh constituted incitement against non-Jews. Jewish groups have asked for clarification and Israel has protested. (Ha’aretz, June 27)

According to Reuters:

The Israeli Web site Ynet said the probe was in response to a petition which accused the Jewish law book of barring Jewish women from helping non-Jewish women give birth and banning Jewish artisans from sharing professional secrets with those not members of the faith.

Ha’aretz also notes:

The inquiry was launched following a letter signed by 500 public figures, including some 20 members of the nationalist Rodina party, urging the state prosecutor to outlaw the Jewish religion and all the Jewish organizations operating in Russia.

For more on Rodina, see FSUMonitor.

For more on anti-Semitism in the FSU, see our post on David Duke in the Ukraine.

See also:

  1. Probe of Russian Jewish group dropped
    Russian officials dropped a probe into a Russian Jewish group for publishing a Jewish religious book.

    The Prosecutor’s Office has dropped the probe against the Congress of Jewish Religious Organizations and Communities of Russia for publishing a short version of the Shulchan Aruch, a Jewish legal code, according to one of Russia’s chief rabbis, Berel Lazar. The probe was opened after an anti-Semitic letter was circulated earlier this year attacking the text of the Shulchan Aruch as extremist and anti-Christian. “The closing of this particular case underscores the importance of Jewish leadership worldwide standing firm in the struggle against anti-Semitism,” said Jack Rosen, the president of the American Jewish Congress-Council for World Jewry. (JTA, June 28)

    According to JPost, Russia’s chief rabbi Lazar refuted the charges:

    “We showed that the attacks were baseless,” he said, “and stemmed from the poor translation of the original text. For example, it does not say that a Jewish midwife should not help a non-Jewish woman deliver her child, but an idol worshiper… We brought examples from other halachic literature to prove this, and we showed them that Jewish doctors and midwives in Russian hospitals and in Jewish hospitals don’t discriminate according to such an idea.”