Russian Jews Describe Religious Needs in Memorandum to Government

(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

The memorandum dealing with the religious needs of the Jewish population of Soviet Russia submitted to the Soviet Government by the Jewish Religious Community of Leningrad, describes the religious needs of the Jews.

The memorandum devotes itself to outlining the objects for which the conference of Jewish Communities in Russia is being called. The religious needs of the Jews, it says, cannot be confined within the limits of the existing statutes for religious communities of other faiths, because the religious needs of the Jews are not exhausted by the house of worship. It is for this reason necessary to hold a conference of representatives of the religious communities for the purpose of drawing up statutes which will be adapted to the requirements of the Jewish faith.

The conference, the memorandum proceeds, will not deal with questions which are counter to the decrees and ordinances of the Soviet Government on the subject of the separation of the church and the State. It has also no intention of intervening for the purpose of obtaining for the religious communities the right of compulsorily taxing its members or punishing its members. All decisions made by the Conference will be binding upon the members of the religious communities only in so far as they accept them voluntarily. There will be no compulsion of any kind.

The memorandum proceeds to explain the significance of Kashruth and points out that Jewish ritual slaughterers are no more than ordinary working slaughterers. It explains also the function of the Rabbis in the matter of Shechita and the reason why Jews pay specially for the provision of kosher meat. It gives an explanation of the place occupied in Jewish life by Mikvahs and Jewish cemeteries and of the reason why the Jewish cemeteries should be under the jurisdiction of the Jewish communities and not of the City Councils. The memorandum goes on to point out that among Jews there are no priests and that a Rabbi is nothing more than a teacher of the faith. The duties of the Rabbi are explained at length.

On the question of Yeshivahs. the memorandum points out that under the law of July 13, 1912, it is permissible to arrange special theological courses for persons over the age of 18, for the purpose of training teachers of the faith, on condition that the curriculum is limited to matter of theology. The conference, the memorandum says, will consider how best to make use of the provisions of this law and in which places to establish Yeshivahs.

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