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August 12, 1988 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-08-12

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Continued from Page 7

heritage. Nevertheless, the
Soviet Union still has one of
the largest Yiddish speaking
populations in the world, the
language being carried on
stubbornly by grandmothers.
In the last national census,
almost 250,000 Soviet Jews
still said they consider
Yiddish to be their mother
tongue. But in all of the state-
controlled Soviet Union, only
one Yiddish weekly
newspaper is published;
ironically, in the so-called
"Jewish Autonomous Region
of Birobijhan" in Soviet Asia,
where fewer than 13,000 Jews
Sovietish Heimland (Soviet
Homeland), the token Yid-
dish monthly magazine,
publishes 25,000 copies, but
half are believed to be sent
overseas. A handful of Yid-
dish classics is published an-
nually, almost all written
before 1900 — hardly literary
creativity. Even Russian
translations of these classics
are scarcely available. Yosef
Kerler, a Yiddish poet,
lamented prior to his depar-
ture for Israel, "I am a Yid-
dish poet, but I am utterly
superfluous in the Soviet
Despite the advent of the
new policies of glasnost in-
stituted by Party Chairman
Mikhail Gorbachev, little has
changed for the cultural and
religious lives of Soviet Jews.
Not one Jewish school has
been permitted for more than
40 years, not in Yiddish, the
recognized language of the
Jewish minority, nor in
Hebrew, since biblical times
the language of the Jewish
people. Other, much smaller
ethnic and national groups
have a wide network of
cultural and educational in-
stitutions conducted in their
own languages. The so-called
Moscow yeshivah, more than
16 years old, consists of a
handful of students and has
yet to graduate one rabbi.
Fewer than a handful of
students have been allowed to
study in the seminary in
Budapest, the only rabbinical
school in Eastern Europe,
even though dozens of
synagogues in the Soviet
Union have been without rab-
bis for many years. In 1988
the Moscow rabbi and cantor
were allowed to come to
Yeshiva University in New
York for a three-month study
period — a positive step but
hardly a reinstitution of
Jewish learning.
Intense desire for learning
about their Jewish heritage
and the Hebrew language
persists, no doubt the result of
pride in Israel and the
-emigration there by
thousands of families in the
last 20 years. The refuseniks

have made repeated attempts
to 'elicit recognitfon of
Hebrew, but to no avail. Other
than for the foreign service,
from which Jews are essen-
tially barred, no schools in
the Soviet Union offer
Hebrew language courses.
But, unofficial seminars and
classes have proliferated in
cramped apartments and are
tolerated by the government,
albeit with surveillance and
KGB harassment. In the past,
Hebrew teachers have been
hounded and subject to arrest.
Recently, the arrests have
stopped, but the government
continues to refuse to
recognize the legitimacy of
teaching the modern
language of Hebrew.
While glasnost has in-
cluded the loosening of
restraints on cultural expres-
sion in the Soviet Union
generally, it has meant little
for Soviet Jews. Unofficial ac-
tivities are now often
tolerated •— and a Jewish
library has been opened in
one private apartment, a
"museum" in another. But
Soviet Jews continue to await
the right to study their
heritage and culture, as
guaranteed by the Helsinki
Accords signed by the Soviets
in 1975: The Soviet. Union
still fails to allow the basic
cultural and religious institu-
tions essential to ethnic sur-
vival for Soviet Jews.


The National Jewish Com-
munity Relations Advisory
Council has provided plaques
commemorating the Night of
the Murdered poets to its con-
stituent agencies around the
The Jewish Community
Council of Metropolitan
Detroit is planning a
ceremony around the High
Holidays next month to in-
stall the plaque and honor
the 24 writers, artists and
poets murdered on Aug. 12,

"'mmli NEWS Imm"•

Israelis Hit
PLO Bases

Tel Aviv (JTA) — Israeli air
force planes raided terrorist
targets in the Sidon area of
southern Lebanon on Tues-
day, according to reports from
The raid was the 13th on
Palestine Liberation
Organization targets in
Lebanon since the beginning
of the year.
According to the reports,
the targets included the

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