(JTA) — An umbrella association of American Orthodox rabbis is calling on the Russian government to release Evan Gershkovich, the imprisoned Jewish reporter for the Wall Street Journal.
The Rabbinical Alliance of America said in a statement on Sunday that Russia should “do immediate justice by releasing Evan Gershkovich.” The alliance, also known as the Igud HaRabbonim, says it represents more than 950 Orthodox rabbis, and makes frequent statements on public affairs in the U.S. and Israel.
Gershkovich, 31, who is the son of Jewish refugees from the Soviet Union, was arrested two months ago and charged with espionage, an accusation he, the Wall Street Journal and the United States government deny. Last week, his pretrial detention was extended until the end of August, and he faces a sentence of up to 20 years in a penal colony.
“As Americans, we condemn how our fellow citizen, Evan Gershkovich, has been unlawfully arrested and detained by Russian officials,” read a statement by the group’s executive vice president, Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik. “As Jews, we are offended by the apparent resurgence of governmental Russian antisemitism. As rabbis, we protest this injustice and demand that Russia does the just, moral thing and immediately frees Evan Gershkovich so he can safely return to his family.”
Jews in America and around the world have taken action to support Gershkovich since his arrest, with some reviving practices that recalled the movement to free Soviet Jewry during the Cold War. Earlier this month, the Jewish Federations of North America held a rally calling for his freedom.