Sinolar Relates Yom Kippur Episode in the Soviet Union
force them to desecrate Yom Kip- they are otherwise willing to par- liihed that as a result of Smido- nists—including many who were
By BORIS SMOLAR
ticipate in the Collectivization Day vitch's action, only those Jewish not religious--observed Yom Kip-
(Editor-in-Chief, Emeritus of JTA) pur.
* • •
voluntarily, could be informed that colonists who were sworn Commu- pur in collective prayers in their
(Copyright 1968, JTA Inc.)
Then came my talk with Peter they could perform their duty the nists turned out on the Day of settlements and reported to work
Oct. 14 was Collectivization Day
in the Soviet Union, when every Smidovitch, the vice president of next day, after Yom Kippur, or Atonement to work in the fields. for Collectivization Day the next
The great majority of the colo- day.
worker on the land had to con- the Union of the Soviet Socialist any other subsequent day.
For a moment Smidovitch was
tribute his day' work to the coun- Republics. Smidovitch was not
try by working in the field. Oct. only the vice president of the sitting in serious silence, then he
USSR, he was also the Commissar called in one of his secretaries
14 was also Yom Kippur.
The Jewish Comunist press in for Religious Affairs and chair- and dictated to her the following
uled to speak at a meeting of a
By DAVID SCHWARTZ
the Soviet Union was 'elated over man of the government central or- message: "To all regional authori-
labor organization in the Negev. It
(Copyright 1968. JTA Inc.)
the coincidence. Here was the gan in charge of settling of Jews ties in Crimea and the Ukraine:
It has been said that if Adam was a warm day and someone sug-
greatest opportunity to compel on the land. He was a mild-man- The central government has no ob-
Jewish settlers in the colonies in nered, elderly intellectual of the jection to postponing the Collectivi- returned, .he would find everything gested that the hall should have
but the jokes. Adam must been air:conditioned. -
the Ukraine and Crimea to work old Bolshevik type, who liked to
"That's all right," was the com-
on Yom Kippur. The government discuss with me not only matters your region to the following day,_ have heard many stories. It was
order made it clear that every concerning Jewish colonization and if the carrying out of the Collecti- he who first said, "Quit rib- ment of another. "Soon. President
will start talking, and his
able-bodied land worker was ex- Jewish religion, but also Russian
pected to till the soil on Collectivi- literature. His favorite Russian with hindrances in the Jewish set- pect Adam wouldn't recognize the hands will go this way and that,
will have air-conditioning
zation Day as an expression of his authors were Maxim Gorky, Leo tlements. Inform the respective au- stories of today. While the tales
devotion to the country. What a Tolstoy, Vladimir Korolenko and thorities and take the necessary may be basically similar, they by hand."
undergo major surgery through
test for the tens of thousands of other great liberal writers of the measufas."
President Shazar not-only can
Turning to me, Smidovitch said, the changes of circumstances and
Jews settled on the land by Agro Czarist times.
use his hands in talking but he can
joint—an affiliate of the American
As correspondent of the JTA
a good Hasidic dance with his
Joint Distribution Committee! and of the New York World in signature, after I receive the ap-
feet. But above all, he is a talker.
What a test fo-r the thousands Moscow, I had easy access to him. proval of the WZIK, which I am popular story about a famous rabbi The one requirement Israel has of
among them who had stubbornly He was deeply interested in help- sure I will get. Perhaps this will of those days, Dr. Joseph Kraus- its president is that he be a good
remained religious and managed ing the Agrojoint to take as many prove to you that I am sincere kopf, and Cardinal Gibbons - of Bal- taker. They figure _if. he . is busy
not to appear in the field for work Jews as possible out of the small when I say that I mean to protect timore. The two were present at a talking, he won't do anything to
even on Saturdays! What a su- towns and settle them on land Jewish religious rights as provided social function, and the cardinal, get his country in trouble. •
noticing that the rabbi avoided one
preme chance for the Jewish Sec- either in the Crimea or in the sec- in our constitution."
FDR was a very good talker. I
On Oct. 4, 10 days before Yom item on the menu, said: "When
tion of the Commtinist Part y, tion of the Ukraine where the
was just reading a story about the
will you start eating ham, Rabbi late Fannie Hurst, novelist,
known for short
Agrojoint was operating. He devel-
to terrorize the Jewish colonists oped a strong feeling of friendship the central government, was tele- Krauskopf?" -
who was a friend of his. She was
into•breaking the tradition of Yom for the late Dr. Joseph Rosen, graphed to the regional authori-
"At your wedding, your Emi- always trying to reduce, and one
head of the Agrojoint, and was ties under the signature of Smido- nence," replied Rabbi 1Crauskopf. day she came visiting the White
vitch. However, it was not made
Today this story would lose House, very proud of her lost
This was in 1929, when the cam- generally very friendly to me to a public in the Soviet press. The
paign against religion in general point where I could see him in his Jewish colonists in the Agrojoint something of its punch, with so poundage.
"Turn around," said FDR.
reached a high peak in the Soviet office without even making an settlements in Crimea and the many priests getting married.
Union, and when the Yevsekzia appointment. His office was not- in Ukraine were notified about their The whole question of celibacy "Well," he said, "the Hurst may
was marching forward in closing the Kremlin, but a block outside, right not to work on Collectiviza- among the' priests is apparently have changed a little, but it's the
down synagogues, in converting and all that was necessary for tion Day, but to work on the next being reassessed, and jokes about same old fanny."
Several of the Presidents—Jef-
them into workers' clubs, in ridi- me to visit his office was to ask day instead. They were elated no the-priests not marrying lose much
of their pungency.
ferson, Adams, Madison, were
culing rabbis, and in extending its his personal secretary whether he end.
good talkers. And of course Lin-
anti-religious activities to the was free to see me. If he was,
Back in the old days, one heard coln. He was the best of all. The
smallest and remotest townships. he saw me immediately.
learned about Smidovitch's move
As Commissar for religious af- only after editors received the many stories about how Jews worst was Calvin Coolidge. He
Day after day the three daily Yid-
dish newspapers issued by the fairs, Smidovitch always stressed Jewish newspapers from Warsaw talked with their hands. You hard- said so little that when y-ou had an
Yevsekzia in Moscow, Charkov and. to me the fact that the Soviet Con- —the nearest foreign capital to the ly ever hear such stories today, appointment with him, you had to
Minsk—the capitals of Soviet Rus- stitution permitted freedom of re- Soviet Union—and read my JTA but 36 years ago they were very take a paper along with you to
pass the time.
sia, Soviet Ukraine and Soviet ligion and that the entire anti- cables there. They were furious. common.
What a wonderful talker Chaim
One of the old favorites told
Byelorussia, respectively—poured religious campaign in the Soviet Their entire campaign to force
out poisonous propaganda against Union was being conducted not Jews to work on the land on Yom how a Jew who couldn't swim man- Weizrnann, the first president of
the Jewish religion, competing with by the government but by the Kippur turned out to be a flat fail- aged to save himself when his Israel, was. The only one to rival
him was Lincoln. If Abraham and
the non-Jewish Communist press "Bezbozhnik" organization, a Com- ure.
throughout the Soviet Union in the munist group dedicated to fighting
"I just talked and talked and Chaim got together and told stor-
They were, especially enraged
ies, the listeners wouldn't:Care if
indoctrination of the slogan "Re-
that their campaign was disa- talked," explained the Jew.
this group by arguing that just vowed by the highest echelons in
We were reminded of it recently none of the world_'s problems were
ligion Is Opium for the People."
The fact that Collectivization as religion was permitted to func- the government. Emes, central on hearing a story about President solved. It would be enough listen-
Day coincided with Yom Kippur tion in Russia so were the anti- organ of the Yevzekzia, carried Shazar of Israel. He was sched- ing to them.
could not play any better into religious groups. Their activities, blasting editorials against me, ac-
their hands in this campaign. he insisted, were however, not of- cusing me of interfering in internal
Emes, the leading newspaper of ficially endorsed by the Soviet gov- affairs of Soviet life and calling
the Jewish Section of the Commu- ernment, although the government me all kinds of names, like "am-
nist Party, lost no time soon after favored their campaign against re- bassador of American Jewish capi-
the order to work on Collectiviza- ligion. I usually took issue with talism," "Dollar - correspondent,"
tion Day was issued. In containing him on this thin_ point, but he al- etc. However, their threats to the
vitriolic articles, Emes made it ways assured me that at a cru- Jewish colonists lost their power.
clear that settlers in the Jewish cial- moment he would prove that
Upon checking later, I estab- s
colonies who would not be working this was actually the case.
The crucial moment came when
in the fields on that day because
of Yom Kippur would be consid- the order to work on Collectiviza-
ered saboteurs and would be dealt tion Day was issued and was inter-
with as such. This threat was preted by the Jewish Section of
•117 5 ;4 ,
voiced also in the other Yiddish the Communist Party to mean that
every Jew in the Jewish settle-
ments in Crimea and the Ukraine
The Jewish colonists were terri- would have to work in the field
Eddie Jacobson visited Israel as a
fied. Most of them were former on Yom Kippur. Smidovitch was tourist. He travelled throughout the
length and breadth of the land. He met
residents of small towns who lost taken aback when I told him that people
from various countries. With
their livelihoods as small traders Collectivization D a y coincided some he spoke English, with others Yid-
But with many he communicated
after the Bolshevik Revolution. with Yom Kippur. He did not know dish.
by means of gestures, as they spoke
The Agrojoint helped to resettle this. He knew what Yom Kippur only Hebrew. In his boyhood, while
studying for his Bar Mitzva, he learned
them on the land, and trained meant to the Jews, and I especi- how
to pray from the Hebrew Prayer
them as faremrs to the satisfac- ally emphasized to him the im- Book, but even now did not fully under-
stand the words. While still in America,
tion of the Soviet government. pression which my cables to the he
had decided that when could free
Many of them excelled as land- ..1TA, on forcing of Jews to work on himself from business affairs, he would
time to the study of Hebrew.
workers but remained true to their Yom Kippur, would make in the devote
Returning from Israel to
religious traditions of thees,sinall Jewish world abroad. "What do sailed on a ship for two weeks. The
ship made its way leisurely, and there
towns from which they cam&-;
.7Piarr? LTI; 11 -
you think I should do?" he asked was much free time. How fine it would
only did these religious Jews in a tone of deep sincerity.
be, he thought, if I could use these
days for the study of Hebrew, but who
avoid working on .the Sabbath,
"I believe that as Commissar would organize Hebrew lessons for me
but in. numerous colonies estab- for Religious Affairs and especial- here?
And then he learned that the Brit
lished by the Agrojoint, one could ly as chairman of the government
Ivrit Olamit had organized a Floating
even find an "Erev"—a religious body which is interested in the Hebrew Ulpan on board ship. Many of
device which rendered possible transformation of non-productive the passengers registered for the Hebrew
lessons. He met the teacher who had
`the carrying of objects on Sabbath Jewish elements into productive been sent from Israel and arranged
days, despite traditional prohibir land .workers, you should draw with him to be included among the
of the Ulpan. How did the
tion. Not to speak of the fact that the attention of the WZIK (the students
idea of a Floating Hebrew Ulpan ori-
the religious settlers gathered for central government) to the coinci- ginate? He was interested to know
and the teacher told him that the Brit
prayers on Jewish holidays, es- dence of Yom Kippur with Collec- Ivrit
Olamit organized an Ulpan on the
pecially on Rosh Hashana and tivization Day, and to the signifi- S.S. Olympia and the S.S. Queen Anna
Maria of the Greek Line Shipping Co.,
Yom Kippur. -
cance of Yom Kippur as the holi- which sails the route New York—Haifa-
New York. In • this Ulpan, lessons in
Despair grew among these colo- est Jewish holiday," was my reply. Hebrew are given to beginners and
nists as the days of Rosh Hashana "Specific exemption of religious advanced students, as well as lessons
the Bible and Jewish History.
and Yom Kippur approached. The Jewish colonists from the Collecti- in Modern
methods of instruction a r e
Communist Jewish press sadistic- vization Day order would make a employed, including the audio-visual
system with tape-recordings and short
ally hammered away every day
films. Hebrew songs are taught and
ever more strongly the message would also prove that the govern- Israeli evenings organized. All passen-
gers and tourists may join the Ulpan
that they must work, on Yom Kip- ment had no anti-religious purpose free
of charge. At the end of the Jour-
Eddie Jacobson disembarked happy
pur. It was the first time since for setting the day for Oct. 14," ney,
and in good spirits, knowing that he
the establishment of the Commu- I added.
had made good, use of his time aboard
I then suggested that the Jewish ship and had acquired knowledge of
nist regime that Jews were facing
Hebrew language and culture.
government order which would colonists, in order to show that the
Translation of Hebrew column. Pub-
The Joke in Changing Times
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72—Friday, September 20, 1960
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
by the Brit Ivrit Olamit, Jeru-