Minsk Rabbis Publicly Deny Soviet Religious Persecution; Warn Against Joining Instigators in Anti-so

elect their own soviets. It destroyed the so-called “cherta osiedlosti” (the Pale). It abolished the shameful laws which limited Jewish rights. It opened for Jews the doors of schools and government jobs while other countries are still practicing these unjustified limitations.

“Regarding religion the Jews are the first under the Soviet to get the same rights as other nationalities. For our religious beliefs we have never suffered persecutions under the Soviet. There were cases when religious officials were sentenced for acting against the Soviet laws. Nevertheless all religious rituals such as praying, circumcision and the like we perform openly and there was no case when the Soviet persecuted anyone for practicing religious rituals.

“Regarding the rumors abroad that rabbis here have been executed or that other severe punishments have been inflicted upon them, we categorically state that these rumors are an absolute lie. We feel it our duty to declare that not only has no death sentence threatened any rabbis but also no other severe punishments threaten them. During the entire existence of the Soviet not a single rabbi was shot and if the Soviet is compelled in some cases to arrest single persons of the Jewish clergy these arrests are made not for their religious activities but for other anti-government acts.

“The Soviet government, unlike any other government, has a just attitude toward the accused. As an example take the case of the Minsk rabbis who were recently charged with violating the Soviet laws but who due to the Soviet’s objectivity were soon released. We rabbis hope that the Soviet government will be just to them as it was just until now to the clergy.

“Concerning the demands of the Communist party and the Communist Youth League that their members give up religion it may be said that these organizations as well as the Association of the Godless are only voluntary which are joined by adults and no one is compelled to join them. Religious people are not accepted there. We cannot deny that the number of non-believers is increasing in Soviet Russia, but this is also noticeable in other countries.

“In our country this process is going on faster, therefore it is more obvious. The closing of synagogues is done upon the request of the Jewish masses and not by government bodies’ requests. These only fulfill the will of these masses. Of course this makes smaller the field of our activities but we are certain that even now religion among the Jews of Russia is higher than in many other countries where religious organizations are only tools in the hands of the government.

“We cannot be silent about the fact that neither the Pope nor the Archbishop of Cantebury ever did anything when Czarist Russia persecuted the Jews. Why did they say nothing when Denikin’s and other White Guardist bands killed the best Jewish orthodox leaders in Ukrainia in 1918 and 1919; when Torahs were thrown into the blood of the murdered elders and innocent children? That is why we have something less than trust in the appeals of the Pope and other church leaders.

“We categorically protest against the Pope’s anti-Soviet crusade. Let Jews remember what crusades meant for them in the past. We appeal to all religious Jews to remember those persecutions against the Jewish people done before and even now by those who attack the Soviet. We appeal to them with our entire power to protest against the present anti-Soviet crusade and let them remember that these want to return Russia to Purishkevitch, Markov, Evlogy and bloodshed in our country.”

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