London (Nov. 18)
Seeks to Improve Position of Russian Jewry, Says Lucien Wolf (J. T. A. Mail Service)
The question of religious freedom for the Jews of Soviet Russia was raised to-day at the meeting of the Board of Deputies of the British Jews by H. A. Goodman, who asked why no progress had been made in regard to the safeguarding of religious freedom for the Jews of Russia. It should be made clear, he said, that no one desired to interfere with the internal legislation of the Soviets. Their point was that that legislation provided for the freedom of religious worship, but there were certain elements of the population in Russia who acted in an illegal manner by preventing the due observance of religious worship by their brethren.
Lucien Wolf, replying, said that the matter had been before the Joint Foreign Committee uninterruptedly for two years. Mr. Goodman had said nothing that they all had not previously known. As far as could be ascertained, there was absolute freedom for religious observance, and the percentage of synagogues confiscated, and constitutionally confiscated, was a very small one. The question was a very difficult one, and the policy they were pursuing aimed at improving the lot of Russian Jewry in regard to the attacks on their religious freedom by the elements referred to as far as that was possible.
Mr. Wolf said that it was a matter for gratification to have received so many tributes from all parts of Europe on the occasion of the celebration of the jubilee of the Joint Foreign Committee. There had been an interchange of telegrams between the Committee and the Governments of Czecho-Slovakia and Poland on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of these Republics, which went to prove that excellent relations existed between the Committee and those Governments, and between the Jews of those countries and their respective Governments.
Another matter for gratification was that their activities in Geneva in regard to the minorities question were in process of settlement. They had had a letter from the Secretary-General of the League that the case raised so many important issues that it would be placed before the Council of the League on the 10th December.
The formation of a new government in Roumania in circumstances which seem to imply a complete revolution in political methods necessarily posesses great interest for the Jews of Roumania. For the first time Roumania will have a parliament recruited by free elections, in which all phases of the national life will be fully represented. The new government, largely of Transylvanian origin, is Liberal in doctrine, and is pledged to the recognition of minorities rights. The conditions are so new that prophecy may be hazardous, but the Committee, after a careful examination of the situation, are of opinion that the outlook is extremely hopeful. For the moment the Committee are anxious to obtain a settlement of the long-standing Staatenlose question which has been revived by a circular issued by the Ministry of Labor, to which reference was made in the last report. The correspondence on the subject is proceeding.
The Committee have followed very closely the anti-Semitic outbreaks which have lately taken place in the Hungarian universities, owing to the desire of Jewish students to avail themselves of the facilities provided for them under the new Numerous Clausus Law. Happily there has been no need for foreign intervention, owing to the energetic action of the authorities, and the strong disapproval of anti-Semitic agitations expressed by leading ministers in public speeches, the secretary declared.