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J.D.B. News Letter

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(By our Berlin Correspondent)

Serious conflicts have arisen between the Wzik, the Central Execative of Soviet Russia, and the Yevseczia, the Jewish section of the Communist Party, with regard to the persecution of the Hebrew language and the increasing number of synagogues in Soviet Russia being converted into labor clubs, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent here learns from a highly authoritative source.

The policy of the Jewish Communist section to break up Jewish religious institutions and persecute those who teach Hebrew is severely criticised by A. Lunarcharsky, the Soviet commissar of education, and P. Smidovitch, the vice-president of the Soviet Union. Both Lunarcharsky and Smidovitch are decidedly against the provocative measures adopted by the Jewish Communist section with regard to the Jewish religious masses in Russia. There is also a split among the leaders of the Jewish Communist section with regard to the same question. Many of the leaders of the Yevseczia are in definite opposition to the anti-religious practices against the Jews, which have recently assumed menacing proportions.

From the same source the correspondent learns that a large number of synagogues in the Ukraine were illegally closed down during last summer by the Yevseczia. Terrorist acts were practiced against a number of members of the synagogues in order to prevent them from complaining to the government against the illegal action of the Jewish Communist section.

In the city of Kiev many synagogues were confiscated. Under the pretext that the local Jewish community is unable to maintain them, they were converted into labor clubs. In the city of Konotop, the largest synagogue was closed down. The local Kehillah was afraid to protest against this act to the higher authorities because of the terror inspired in them by the Jewish Communist section.

In the district of Korosten in the Ukraine many synagogues were converted into clubs. In the cities of Olewsk, Malin, Lohin and Sobolewka’, the Yewseczia tried to confiscate the synagogues, but met with energetic opposition from the local Jewish population. In Korosten the Jewish Communists hung up Lenin’s portrait on the Ark in the local synagogue, which was converted into a club. The same thing was done in the synagogue of Ushomil.

In the city of Nikolajew the Jews were left with only one synagogue. In the city of Priluk the largest synagogue was confiscated. A number of synagogues were also confiscated in the cities of Zaporozhje, Pokotilow and Liachovitz.

The Jewish Communist section in Pogrebische in the district of Berditechev, where there was no cinema, resolved to make use of the local synagogue for this purpose. This was done in an arbitrary manner. The screen was fixed in place of the Ark.

In the city of Radomisl the Jewish Communist section decided to confiscate the synagogue. The government, however, did not approve of their decision. The Jewish Communists then demanded of the local Jewish community that they should voluntarily hand over the synagogue to them. The community replied that as long as the government did not compel them to do so they would not give up their place of worship. One morning five members of the Jewish Communist section entered the house of the beadle of the synagogue and compelled him to hand them the keys of the building. In the evening a Communist ball was held in the synagogue building. The Jewish community lodged a protest with the Ukrainian Central Government against the action of the Jewish Communists.

In the city of Bobrinetz where the synagogue was confiscated the Scrolls of the Law were rent and thrown aside. The local Jewish community proclaimed a day of fasting and prayer as a sign of mourning.

In the city of Uswet in the district of Pskov the Soviet police militia entered the synagogue and confiscated all the Hebrew religious books, stating that a synagogue is an institution for praying and not for learning. No books, therefore, should be kept there.

Following the instructions of the Jewish Communist section the police militia of the city of Loknia commenced persecutions against the teaching of Hebrew. They entered several houses where they found only three children in each studying the Bible. The Bibles were confiscated and prosecutions were instituted.

A number of searches of Hebrew schools and Yeshivahs were made by the police militia in the cities of Minsk, Surask. Samarakand. Two religious teachers were put on trial in Surask, at which one was sentenced to three months, and the other to one month’s hard labor.

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