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November 03, 1967 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1967-11-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

20,000 Moscow Jews Fete Simhat Tora in City Streets

LONDON (JTA) — More than
20,000 Moscow Jews — including
many young people and women —
danced with tora scrolls, sang
Israeli songs and danced the hora
in a Simhat Tora demonstration
held in front of Moscow's Central
Synagogue Oct. 26 according to
information reaching here.
While Simhat Tora has for years
been occasion for Moscow Jewry
to display its Jewishness through
song and dance on Arkiphov a
Street, fronting the Central Syna-
gogue, this year's demonstration
was seen by foreign correspond-
ents in Moscow as Russian Jewry's
answer to the Kremlin's official
anti-Israeli policy which has been
intensified since last June's Six-
Day War and has spilled over in
the controlled press to efforts to
intimidate Russian Jewry.
This year's crowds were the
largest seen by foreigners in
Moscow in many years.
Even while the Jews thus
showed their solidarity with the
Jewish faith—and with Israel—
further attacks against Jews ap-
peared in the Soviet press last
weekend. A well-known writer
named Mikola Bikun, who had
previously written many anti-
Semitic articles, authored an
article in the satirical Ukrainian
journal, "Pepper," accusing
"Aryan" Jewish bankers and
"Zionists" in Nazi Germany of
having financed the gas chambers
which ultimately were to be used
for murdering European Jewry.
But the anti-Semitic and anti-
Israeli attacks in the Soviet press
did not deter the many thousands
of Jews who celebrated Simhat
Tora. They gathered at sundown
and the singing and dancing con-
tinued until well after midnight.
Young people kissed the Tora and
competed for the privilege of
dancing with the holy scroll. Some
of the young men were in army
uniform. Western correspondents
observing the scene said the de-
monstrators seemed more defiant
than usual as the Jews participat-
ed in the celebration.
The official Soviet overseas
propaganda news agency con-
ceded Tuesday that great •num-
bers of young Moscow Jews had
participated in the dancing and
singing that marked the end of
Simhat Tora but asserted that
they came out, not In observance
of religious practices, but as par-
ticipants in a folk custom.

The Novosti Press Agency, a dis-
patch signed by Samuel Rosin, a
Novosti correspondent, distributed
here by the Soviet Embassy, said

that large crowds had danced in
the Moscow streets last Saturday
night, but "nobody prayed" and
the Jewish community was looking
froward to the celebration next
Sunday of the 50th anniversary of
the Russian Revolution.
(A Soviet official denied Tues-
day, at a Moscow press conference,
reports from the West that the
Soviet Union has failed to provide
adequate synagogue and other re-
ligious facilities for Soviet Jews.
Yustas Patetskis, chairman of one
of the two chambers of the Su-
preme Soviet, told the press that
Jews in Russia "have every op-
portunity to have an appropriate
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asserted that the church is sep-
arated from state in the USSR "and
manages its own affairs." He
sought to debunk as western propa-
ganda recent charges that Soviet
Jews lack not only synagogues but
also facilities for training rabbis.
However, the only Jewish theologi-
cal seminary in the Soviet Union,
that under the direction of Moscow
Chief Rabbi Yehuda Leib Levin,

What has been persecuted
through 50 years is the Jewish
heritage, religious practices and
culture but these do not pose an
issue for the younger generation
of Jews.
The "happy Jew," Grose report-
ed, is to be found among those
who have been "Sovietized,"

Soviet Union which has not appre-
ciably subsided since the days of
Stalin. We cannot ignore the pre-
dicament of the Russian Jewish

community which is today beset
by the most dificult pressures.
"I believe Americans of all races
and creeds should be concerned."

Russians who are Soviet citizens
first and Jews second, who are
has no students at the present confident that the prevailing post-
Stalin atmosphere of public life
The Novosti correspondent said will bar serious manifestations of
he had interviewed Chief Rabbi anti-Semitism, because that pheno-
Yehuda Leib Levin, who told menon is "tainted with Stalinism."
The fact is, the correspondent
him that the recent holidays had
passed "in the best possible man- wrote, there has developed a new
ner." There were days, according interest in Jewry among the
to the interview, "when many younger generation, with curios-
people gathered in front of the ity manifested among Soviet Jews
synagogue and nothing hindered and Gentiles about what being a
them. In these cases, the militia, Jew means. This has been accom-
at our request, closed traffic panied by a kind of revival of Yid-
dish culture, though the official
along the street."
Yiddish theatre in Moscow, de-

In an expression of unity, stroyed by Stalin, remains de-

spirited display of religious fervor
—and a pointed demonstration of
solidarity with Russian Jews—
took place in New York, at the
conclusion of Simhat Tora, when
3,000 persons, a majority of them
high school and college students,
danced and sang in the street one
block from the headquarters of
the Soviet Mission to the United
The demonstration was spon-
sored by the New York Coordin-
ating Committee for Soviet Jewry,

(Moscow Radio's "peace and pro-
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learned here. Both broadcasts,
however, will be beamed only to
foreign listeners.)
In Washington 21 United States
Senators took the floor Oct. 26
to urge the Soviet Union to
cease discrimination against Rus-
sian Jewry. The speeches coin-
cided with Simhat Tora.
the New York Board of Rabbis
The Senators, representing both
and the Student Struggle for parties, condemned Russia's re-

Soviet Jewry. Signs carried by the
New York demonstrators obvious-
ly for the benefit of the Soviet
mission officials nearby, read
"Stop Burying Judaism" and
"Justice for Jews."
Peter Grose, a New York Times
correspondent in Moscow, reported
Oct. 27 that Soviet Jewry has
ceased to exist as a unity in the
50th year of the Russian Revolu-
tion and any hopes for the next
50 years for the rebirth of a viable
Russian Jewish community must
be grounded more on faith than on

fusal to allow Jews the same rights
as other religious groups and na-
Michigan's Sen. Robert P. Griffin
recounted the plight of Soviet
Jewry and urged the government to
pursue the matter of anti-Semitism
with the Kremlin through diplo-
matic channels.
"All available evidence," he said,
indicates a deliberate pattern of
anti-Semitism continues in the

Soviet pressures for assimila-
tion, strictures on worship, limita-
tions on teaching children about
God, plus traditional anti-Semitism
—which is officially frowned on—
have dealt "a savage blow" to the
Jewish community of the Soviet
Soviet Communists, Grose re-
ported, are on the defensive about
the Jews and "they have much
to be defensive about," the corres-
pondent wrote but, he added, world
concern is misplaced. The picture
of a community of some 3,000,000
Jews, living in daily misery and
fearing for their lives, is wrong,
and one can meet Soviet Jews
every day whose reactions to over-

seas campaigns on behalf of Soviet
Jewry range from "total bewilder-
ment to sincere anger," he re-

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The status of Soviet Jewry is
described in one of a series of
articles being published by the
Times on all aspects of Soviet
life and policy in connection with
the 50th anniversary.

The article stresses the im-
pact of Soviet anti-Jewish policy
in terms of a fundamental dif-
ference between the older, re-
ligiously oriented Soviet Jewry
and the younger "Sovietized"
Jew. The older generation of
Jews, remembering purges and
Stalinist oppression, has no in-
tention of risking new troubles.
The younger generation, which
has complaints but not over
anti-religions phases of Soviet
policy, is less inclined to let
Communist Party "dogmatism"
on Jewish issues go unchecked,
Grose reported.

Friday, November 3, 1967-7

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