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Vol. XXXVI, No. 3
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By MILTON FRIEDMAN
JTA and Jewish News -Correspondent in Washington
Taboo Attendance Record
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second of a series of
• articles from the Soviet Union by David Miller, special
correspondent of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency ; who is
studying Jewish life in the U.S.S.R. and in other countries
Miller is traveling on a Pulitzer
behind the Iron Curtain.
Scholarship from the Columbia University Graduate School
By DAVID MILLER
(Copyright. 1959, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Inc.)
Rabbi Leib Levine, his wrinkled hands firmly
outstretched, greeted the visiting American warmly in a small
study of the Central Moscow Synagogue.
It was a bright Thursday afternoon, and a dozen or so
aged men sat in a nearby room studying the Talmud. The
murmur of their soft voices barely echoed through the all but
The rabbi's study, eight feet wide, 10 feet deep and clut-
tered with Yiddish, Hebrew and Russian books, is only 20 feet
from the side of the main altar Of this, the largest and most
important synagogue in Moscow.
Rabbi Levine, at age 65 the Chief Rabbi of Moscow's 400,000
Jews, sat behind a heavy wooden desk and made it clear
immediately that he could speak only as a religious leader,
not as a spokesman for the Jewish community as a whole.
His hands cupped loosely on the desk, the rabbi spoke in
clear, precise Yiddish. The tone was always cordial.
"I cannot tell you how many Jews attend this syna-
gogue," he said, "because we do not have any formal regis-
tration. Our doors are always, oven. Those who wish may
come. Those who do not wish to do not."
Do many attend?
"The synagogue is always crowded for services. We have
services every day of the year at 6:30 in the morning. At
least ,50 or 60 always take part. At noon those who are able
return for prayer. In the afternoon we study the Talmud.
"Many more of course, attend Friday evening and Satur-
day morning. We usually have 200 at the 6:30 services Satur-
day - morning, and another 200 or so at the 9:30 services. But
fewer take part during the summer because many are away
in the country. For some, Moscow is too hot in the summer-
_ The visitor asked if any young people were ever seen in
"No," Rabbi Levine replied, "the young seldom come,
except on Yom Kippur — and then we do not have room
Are there bar mitzvahs?
When was the last?
"A month ago, I think."
- Are there no records?
"We do. not keep records."
How many do you remember as having had bar mitzvahs
during the past year?
"I don't remember."
Is there no register?
"We do not register the bar mitzvahs. The state does not
keep records of this sort, and we do not, either."
"It is not necessary."
Are there many bar mitzvahs?
'...Those who wish, do. Those who do not wish, do not."
How many would you say were eligible to have bar
"I have no idea."
Is it accurate to say bar mitzvahs are rare?
Is there any organized religious instruction for young
Is there any religious instruction in the schools?
Direct JTA Teletype Wire to The Jewish News
WASHINGTON. — Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev said Wed-
nesday that the Jews were foremost among those responsible for the
launching of the Soviet rocket to themoon and that Jews hold a place of
honor in the Soviet Union. .
He made this - statement at the National Press Club in' response to
questions submitted by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Presenting the JTA question about the status of Soviet Jewry,
National Press Club President William H. Lawrence informed him
there was great interest among Americans in this matter.
Khrushchev replied that he thought one of the facts which could
demonstrate the position of Jews inthe Soviet Union was that among
persons who took the foremost part in the: launching of the Soviet
rocket to the moon were Jews. He said Jews hold a position of honor
in the USSR.
He said that the question of man's religion was not asked and that .
it was a matter of the conscience of the individual. "The Soviet Union
looks on a person as a person," he said. • -
He named a number of Soviet nationalities, including Jews, and
said it would take a long period to .name them all. He 'said they all
live in peace and close friendship. -
The Soviet Union is proud that the nationality problem does not
exist and that all nationalities are marching together toward a common
aim, said Khrushchev.
According to Khrushchev, nationality problems do not exist in:the
Discrimination Branded 'Repugnant' in
Morse Amendment to Senate Aid Measure -
Direct JTA Teletype Wire to The Jewish News
WASHINGTON — Congress, on Tuesday, passed and sent to the White
House a foreign aid appropriations bill that branded as "repugnant" the discrim
ination of the type practiced by Saudi Arabia against Jewish' Americans.
While the bill did not refer to Saudi Arabia by name, it was made clear.
during the Congressional debate that objection was being taken mainly to that
country's biased exclusion of U. S. Air Force personnel of the Jewish faith.
Section 115, based on an amendm ent introduced by Sen. Wayne Morse,
Oregon Democrat, was part of the final bill passed Tuesday shortly before adjourn-
ment. It was retained by the joint Senate-House conference.
The new measure is a reiteration o f the Lehman Resolution of 1956 which
expressed the outrage of Congress against foreign religious prejudice directed
against Americans abroad.
The bill passed on Tuesday provides for Presidential discretion in dealing -
with racial or religious bias on the part of nations receiving U. S. aid funds.
The bill declared - it "the sense of Congress that any attempt by foreign -
nations to create distinctions because of their race or • religion among American
citizens in the granting of personal or commercial access or any other rights
otherwise available to United States citizens generally_ is repugnant to our prin-
ciples and in all negotiationS between United States and any foreign state arising -
as a result of funds appropriated under this act. These principles shall be applied
as the President may determine."
Sen. Morse first introduced his amendment - earlier this session. He sought
to add it to the mutual security authorization bill, but the amendment was de-
feated by a narrow margin..He announced plans to renew his fight in connection
with the subsequent mutual security appropriation bill.
In August, Sen. Morse offered his amendment anew when the Senate ap-
propriations committee took up the new bill. He obtained bi-partisan support.
The appropriations committee, influenced by members of both parties, accepted
the essence of the Morse proposal despite State Department reluctance. The final
wording adopted was less strong than that initially advocated by Sen. Morse. It
was the Senator's original desire to withhold aid funds from nations employing
bigotry against Americans on the basis of religion or race. The accepted measure,
however, was considered nevertheless a v aluable triumph and an effective reitera-_
tion of the Lehman ResolutiOn.