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June 16, 1989 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-06-16

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Preserving - Recovering?
The Soviet Jewish Kehillot


Editor Emeritus


or at least two decades there has
been the consistent demand that
the doors of the Soviet Union be
opened for Jews desiring to emigrate to
There were some periods when
there were positive responses to these
appeals which had the endorsements of
all world Jewish communities and of
many non-Jews.
Only a few spoke out in terms of re-

Rabbi Rosen

taining an identity for Soviet Jewry and
its status as a kehillah.
Now we have such an appeal for
massive scale retention of a Soviet
Jewish existence as a continuing
Jewish kehillah in the world. It comes
from one of world Jewry's most
distinguished personalities, from Dr.
Moshe Rosen, the chief rabbi of
Romania, who also has the honor of be-
ing a member of the Romanian
Rabbi Moshe Rosen, upon his return

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Vol. XCV No. 16

June 16, 1989

from a study tour of Russia, gave an in-
terview to the New York Jewish Week
in which he viewed the massive effort
to help Soviet Jewish emigres to settle
in the United States as threatening the
future of the Jewish people. He propos-
ed that "instead of spending $100
million on Jews to leave Odessa to move
to Philadelphia and assimilate, we
should spend it in Russia to prevent
assimilation." He added that "equal
priorities should be given to help Jews
settle in Israel.

"There are three types of
Jews in Russia today," Rosen
said. "There is one type who
wants to go to Israel, another
who wants to stay in the Soviet
Union and another who wants
to go to America:'
"The time for hints and
secret messages is past," Rosen
said. "We must say to the Soviet
Jews: Those of you who want to
go to Israel to build the Jewish
state, we will do all in our power
to help you. Those who want to
stay - and these are the millions
- we will do everything in our
power to help you preserve your
Jewish religion and culture."
"As for those who want to
come to America, we should say:
Good luck, but this is not the
Jewish people's problem:'
To do otherwise "will bring
tragedy upon the Jewish peo-
ple," Rosen said, using the
Hebrew word `chorban; which
refers exclusively to historic
tragedies such as the fall of the
Temple and the Holocaust.
This is blunt talk. It is a challenge
and a demand for action. It emphasizes
the obligation to save Russian Jewry
and to re-establish the traditional in-
stitutions. On that score, let us add a de-
mand for immediate action.

These ideas should have emanated
from an organized Russian Jewish
kehillah. That's now non-existent, and
therefore the need for a revival, for
regaining strength and courage.
Too many Jewish communities have
vanished in the recent and the
preceding generations. Even some of
the larger settlements of Jews, especial-
ly in the Islamic spheres, have either
been destroyed or have been exiled.
This is a time to rescue the USSR
Jewish settlements. It is now referred
to as two million Jews. In the earlier
czarist years there were as many as six
or seven million. They were leaders in
world Jewry. They produced scholars
and saints. Out of their ranks emerged
the creators of the Zionist movements,
the General Zionists, the Labor Poale
Zion, the Orthodox Mizrachi. The lull
under extreme Communism needs to be
Therefore the value of ideas pro-
mulgated by Rabbi Moshe Rosen. There
have been some contacts with Russian
Jews by representatives from other

Continued on Page 40


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Hope For Stalin's Victims


new era has dawned upon
the Soviet Union. In the
Mikhail Gohrbachev pro-
gram there is an outright condemna-
tion of Stalinism: The guilty are ex-
coriated; the sufferers from that
murderous period are being restored
to dignified recording in Soviet
There were many Jews among
the sufferers from Stalinism. From
1940 to the mid-1950s there were
pogroms. We had occasion on this
page to list the names of some of the
most distinguished Jewish writers,
artists, movie directors, leaders in
literature and statecraft.
These sufferers from the Stalin
pogroms, who were massacred
because they were Jews and were
considered "cosmopolitans" by Stalin
and his felow murders, were
remembered only by Jews, also out-
side of the Soviet Union. Now a new
chapter is being written in that
tragic history. It seems apparent in
the latest addition of the Soviet Yid-
dish magazine, Sovietish Heimland,
which contains a much longer list of
Stalin's Jewish victims. It is a Jewish
indictment of Stalinist pogromists
clearly approved by the Soviet

That list, with credit to the
Sovietish Heimland, was republish-
ed in the Jewish Forward of May 12.
It is reproduced here for the benefit
of the Yiddish readers.
The significance of this Forward
- Vorvaerts - service must be given
fullest accreditation. The Sovietish
Heimland has a record of being
strictly a Kremlin organ. It was a
Stalin tool. Such a list of Stalin's vic-
tims could never be given publicized
acknowledgement of a government-
sponsored Stalin-conducted pogrom.
Should we now say that under
Mikhail Gorbachev we are entering
upon a time for just rights for Jews,
for admission of guilt in the period
of Stalinist massacres, of a new time
when Jews who wish to go to Israel
will have the freedom of migration?
Perhaps the Gorbachev policies
also will augur another response to
the Elie Wiesel appeals for fairness
and will lead to revelations about the
fate of Raoul Wallenberg which has
been a hidden factor in Russian
responses to appeals in Wallengerg's
If a new era has truly dawned
under Gorbachev then the serious
emigration disputes will surely also
be resolved. ❑

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