Jewish groups launch campaign to send Evan Gershkovich Rosh Hashanah cards

The Jewish reporter has been detained in Russia for over six months


Jews across the US have launched a high holidays letter writing campaign in support of imprisoned Jewish journalist Evan Gershkovich.

Since Gershkovich, 31, was arrested by Russian authorities in March on suspicion of espionage, his only contact with the outside world has been a steady flow of letters from family and friends.

But now thanks to a Jewish group representing communities across the USA and Canada, his postbag is set to expand drastically just in time for the Jewish holudays.

“We are deeply concerned for Evan’s well-being,” Eric Fingerhut, CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, said in a statement. “As Jews around the world will be gathering with loved ones during Rosh Hashanah, one of the most important acts we can do as a collective community is to let him know that we are thinking of him and standing with him in solidarity.”  

Reaching Gershkovich will not be wholly straightforward, however, as Russian policy dictates that all correspondences must be translated into Russian and vetted before they are passed on to the recipient.

To expedite the process, the Jewish Federations will compile the letters they receive for Gershkovich into short excerpts for one “collective” letter, which will be sent to Gershkovich via his lawyers. The full texts of the letters will go to Gershkovich’s parents in New Jersey. 

Gershkovich, who has yet to stand trial for his charges, vehemently denies the accusations of espionage by Russian authorities and is backed by the Wall Street Journal and the US government, who have brought up the possibility of a prisoner swap. However, his pretrial detainment has been extended several times in recent months.  

The Jewish community has been steadfast in their support and have leant on religious rituals to call for Gershkovich’s freedom. After his arrest in March, an Israel-based colleague of his at the Journal called for Jews around the world to leave an empty seat at their seder tables in honour of the reporter. 

In mail correspondence with friends, Gershkovich has reportedly stayed positive despite the circumstances: 

“He’s remained humourous, witty, bantering. He sounds just like himself, he sounds strong. He sounds like Evan,” Sam Silverman, Gershkovich’s friend from university, said in an interview with MSNBC News in July. He expressed hope for his friend’s release, looking forward to the eventuality of a reunion.  

“Evan is one of the most extroverted, social, gregarious people that you will ever meet, and he’s built so many relationships, so many bridges, across various communities,” Silverman said. “I can’t wait for us to all get together and welcome him home.” 

You can contribute a message to the campaign here.

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