(Copyright 1969, JTA Inc.)
MIXED MARRIAGES IN USSR: The young man in Kiev who
volunteered to take me to Babi Yar—the ravine where the Nazis ma-
chine-gunned 80,000 Kiev Jews in 1941, in cold blood—was a half-Jew.
His father was Ukrainian and his mother Jewish.
"And how do your identity documents classify you?" I asked. "Are
you identified as a Jew or a Ukrainian?" In the Soviet Union, children
of mixed marriages can, on reaching the age of 16, choose their nation-
ality. Soviet authorities encourage such youngsters to adopt the na-
tionality of their non-Jewish parent.
"My identity documents," he replied, "classify me as of Ukrainian
nationality. But I really don't care. I preferred to be identified as a Jew
because of my love for my mother. My father, who has been happily
married to my mother for more than 20 years, had no objection.
Strangely enough, it was my mother who insisted that I choose the
Ukrainian identity. My mother thought that it would help me, as a
student, in the advancement of my career if my documents showed that
I am of Ukrainian nationality rather than Jewish.
"What my mother does not know yet," he continued, "is that I am
soon going to marry a Jewish girl anyway. We are both students in the
same class in the university. Nationality means nothing to us. I am sure
that neither my mother nor my father will object to our marriage. After
all, I am doing the same thing they did. Besides, mixed marriages are
a normal development in our country."
JEWISH SENTIMENTS: Mixed marriages between Jews and non-
Jews are a part of the normal way of life among young people in the
USSR, especially among students. There is practically no prejudice
among the student youth.
Contributing much to intermarriage is the fact that the youth—Jews
as well as non-Jews—have no attachment to religion. This does not
mean that Jewish youngsters want to divorce themselves from the
Jewish identity which is marked in their personal documents. On the
contrary, they proudly cling to this identity, although they know nothing
about Jewishness. They have no access to knowledge of Jewish history,
they are alien to Jewish spiritual achievements, they cannot speak the
Yiddish language and do not know a single word of Hebrew, the study
of which has been prohibited in the Soviet Union for about 50 years.
They read about Israel, but only in the Soviet press which is anti-Israel.
A young Jew in Russia today knows he is Jewish only because his
documents are marked with the word "Evrei," which in Russian means
"Jew." The great majority of the Soviet-born Jewish youth do not con-
sider this designation an insult. On the contrary, this identification in
their passports strengthens their desire to know more about Jews and
their past. Some of them find that the word "Evrei" in their documents
often stands in their way of being accepted as a student in the univer-
sity, or of being promoted in employment. Yet, the will to know more
about Jewishness is strong among them.
On the whole, it can be said that the average young Jew in the
Soviet Union feels like an orphan who is eager to find out more about
his parents whom he has never seen. There is very little that his father
or mother can tell him about the meaning of being a Jew, because most
of the Jewish parents in the USSR today are themselves either Soviet-
born or raised under the Soviet regime. He looks therefore, for Jewish
guidance toward his Jewish grandparents—if they are still alive.
SIMHAT TORA SPIRIT: To get an idea of the Jewish feelings
among young Jews in the USSR, one has to see the Simhat Tora cele-
brations in front of the Moscow and Leningrad synagogues. In other
Soviet cities with large Jewish populations—like ,Kiev and Odessa—such
street celebrations are not permitted.
The magnitude of the Simhat Tora celebration in front of the Mos- I
cow Central Synagogue can be compared only to the New Year's Eve
celebration in Times Square, New York. Thousands and thousands of I
enthusiastic youngsters—boys and girls alike—fill the Archipova Street,
outside the synagogue, from one end to the other. Inside the synagogue,
which is only 10 minutes' walk from the Kremlin, thousands of Jews of
all ages crowd the aisles and balconies, leaving not a single inch of free
space. I did not have to push my way into the synagogue. I was liter-
ally carried by waves and waves of people who sought entrance to
witness the "Hakofos." It was a rainy evening, but outside the syna-
gogue there was singing and dancing under the pouring rain. Torches
were made from newspapers, adding to the joyful atmosphere. There
was a spirit of great merriment among the 15,000 youngsters who re-
fused to disperse after midnight, when the "Hakofos" ceremonies inside
the synagogue were long over. Police had diverted the traffic from
Archipova Street early in the evening, and police units benevolently
watched the huge dancing crowd all evening. There were police cars
and ambulances stationed on the side streets, but there was not a single
accident during the entire evening. It was the most Jewishly-inspired
scene I have ever witnessed. You never saw such Simhat Tora cele-
brations in front of any synagogue in the United States.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS: Two questions interested me. One
question was: How did so many young Jews in Moscow — who are
strangers to Jewish religion—find out that tonight was Simhat Tora?
The second question was: What brings them to the celebration when
they are actually not religious?
I posed these questions to dozens of youngsters in the crowd. The
answers to the first question were various. A girl said she learned it
from her grandmother who observes all Jewish holidays. A young man
said his father had telephoned the synagogue and was given the infor-
mation. A young couple said they heard the Simhat Tora date announced
over the radio, adding with a mischievous smile, "not on the Soviet
radio, of course!" A small group of students said that the date was
announced clandestinely on the bulletin board in the university.
To the second quegtion, however, I received a unanimous reply
from all whom I queried. The answer was: "We came here because we
are Jews." The fact that this was a religious holiday did not matter to
them. I tried to find out why they don't come to the synagogue on Rosh
Hashana or Yom Kippur. The answer was: "Because these are gloomy
holidays." To them, Simhat Tora is not a religious holiday, but a holi-
day that reflects optimism and joy. They,geek to express their belong-
ing to Jewry through singing and dancing, not through prayers.
They would probably be equally impressed with Passover and
Hanuka if these Jewish holidays were given public expression through
mass seders or through Hanuka concerts. But they would not even con-
sider these holidays as, religious; they would consider them as corn
memorating events of Jewish history which led to Jewish freedom.
Ads in NY Times
Pro, Anti Israel
NEW YORK (JTA)—Two ad-
vertisements on Israeli issues ap-
peared in the New York Times
Tuesday with a broadside against
a "Kosy-Nixon Mideast deal to im-
pose withdrawal resolutions" in-
serted by a private individual and
a denunciation of President de
Gaulle's embargo on military
equipment and spare parts to Is-
real, placed by the New York
Metropolitan Region of the United
Synagogue of America (Conserva-
An ad, which urged President
Nixon "to promptly and unequiv-
ocally" reject Soviet Middle East
proposals calling for the with-
drawal of Israeli forces from the
occupied Arab territories, stated
that it was "published as a public
service by Sol A. Dann of Detroit.
The ad claimed that "Russia's
withdrawal resolutions would weak-
en and destroy Israel, the only
democracy in the Mideast that
opposes and prevents Russian
Communism from dominating the
entire Mideast as one vast Poland
or Czechoslovakia, thereby jeop-
ardizing the interests of all free
The United Synagogue ad said:
"50,000,000 Frenchmen can't be
wrong ... but one is." It declared,
"We cannot believe that the Gen-
eral's one-sided and biased views
are shared by the people of
France. We call upon men of good-
will everywhere to speak out by
word and deed protesting General
de Gaulle's unilateral imposition
of sanctions against Israel.
On Monday, the New York
Times carried two full-page ads
attacking Israel. One was by the
American Friends of Lebanon, the
other by the anti-Zionist propa-
gandist Alfred M. Lilienthal who
found even the Council for Judaism
too mild and left it to conduct his
own campaign vituperation against
Israel. Lilienthal and Rabbi Elmer
Berger, who was ousted from the
post of national director of the
Council for Judaism, are the only
known Jews who had visited with
Nasser and other Arab leaders to
confer with them in their cam-
paigns against Israel and Zionism
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
8—Friday, January 24, 1969
Spring Time in
Group for 3 Marvelous Weeks In
Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland
May 21 to June 11, 1969
* FIRST CLASS HOTELS WITH PRIVATE
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* TICKETS TO BERGEN FESTIVAL, TICKETS
TO THE ROYAL COURT THEATER AND
BALLET IN STOCKHOLM, TICKETS TO
CONCERT IN COPENHAGEN.
* FANA FOLKLORE EXCURSION IN NOR.
* SPECTACULAR FJORD TOUR OF NOR-
* SIGHTSEEING, TIPS, TAXES AND TRANS-
* ROUND-TRIP JET ECONOMY AIR TRANS-
PORTATION FROM DETROIT.
NOTE: Bee Kalt's Orient Tour for Apr. 27,
1969 departure is sold out.
Applications now accepted for the Orient Tour Oct.
4626 N WOODWARD ROYAL OAK
L I 9 - 6 7 3 3
cordially invites you to attend the
Service Appeal a ruler g)ance
Con g regation Sliaarey Zecleh
Saturday, gedruary 8, 1969
at 7:00 p.m.
Eligibility: $25.00 contribution or $100.00 solicitation
Couvert $12.50 per plate
R.S.V.P. by February 1
B'nai B'rith Services Appeal
Detroit, Michigan 48221
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ATTEND THE SERVICES APPEAL DINNER DANCE
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