Isakov, the emissary of Hasidic movement Chabad to the city of Derbent in the Republic of Dagestan, Russia, was shot by anonymous assailants on Wednesday night, and as a result sustained serious injuries. After undergoing surgery in Russia, he was taken back to Israel to receive additional medical care.
On Saturday, Isakov awoke, and despite still having a difficult time speaking, he discussed his life in Dagestan and the local brand of anti-Semitism which might be behind the attack that almost took his life.
Isakov, together with Dr. Kagan. (Photo: Yaron Kellner)
"This is not the first time something like this happened," he said.
"Similar incidents, also religiously motivated, have taken place in the past. Once an explosive was thrown into our mikveh, and that time nothing was taken, so it was certainly not a robbery.
"Nonetheless, despite everything, we don't live in fear, we are a strong community," he said.
Isakov recalled seeing his assailant seconds before being shot, but not having enough time to react. "He didn't say anything," the rabbi said about the shooter, "he just fired."
Afterwards, Isakov recalls, he blacked out. The last thing he remembered was opening his eyes and seeing Dr. Ilya Kagan, a senior doctor in the Intensive Care Unit of Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva where Isakov is hospitalized, telling him that everything was going to be fine.
Dr. Kagan is the doctor that brought Isakov back to Israel, and according to him, the medical staff in Russia did the best it could considering the equipment they had at their disposal.
"The rabbi was in life threatening condition and underwent surgery (in Russia). We flew to the hospital and took him back to Israel with us. En route he was also in life threatening condition but the moment we landed we could take better care of him and quickly take him off the respirator.
"Now his condition is light to moderate and it is very exciting to see him this way after he was in serious condition," Dr. Kagan concluded, adding that he hopes to get Isakov out of the ICU soon.
"I'm very happy I'm receiving treatment in Israel," Isakov said.
Abe Foxman, with the The Anti-Defamation League, stated in repsonse to the incident: "While we do not yet know all of the facts surrounding this horrific attack, we are shocked at the point-blank shooting of a rabbi.
"Several local imams, who advocated for moderate Islam and spoke out against radical jihad, have been killed in the past two years in Dagestan. While we do not know the motivation of the perpetrator at this time, or know if the attack was intended to terrorize the Jewish community or to threaten Derbent’s long-established environment of religious coexistence, we condemn it and urge solidarity by local political, civic, and religious leaders."
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop