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Jewish Collectives Successful but Communist Paper Says They Maintain Religion

The only thing the matter with the Jewish collectives is that their members insist on observing their religious practices, the Minsk. “Oktiabr” complains in an article recounting the growing success of the Jewish collectivization movement in White Russia. Although the collectives have been in existence for a considerable time there are still a very large number of Jewish collectives and collectivists who stand firmly by their religion, the “Oktiabr” reports.

In many collectives, for instance, the congregations have arranged services with preachers, and maintain schochtim. religion is especially strongly implanted among the women. The “Oktiabr” points out that in Coloss in the Minsk district, they are now preparing kosher meat for the use not only of the inhabitants of the collective but for the entire Jewish population of the neighborhood.

At the same time the “Oktiabr” is satisfied that the number of Jewish collectives is growing from year to year and that the system of collectivization is beginning to embrace the entire Jewish working class population.

Although there is very little vacant land in White Russia the government takes the attitude that the Jews have as much right to the land as the peasants. While in 1924 there were only 31 Jewish collectives in White Russia with a total of 336 families, at the beginning of 1929 there were no less than 245 Jewish collectives in White Russia. In 1929, 47 more were established with 733 families.

Actually the number of Jewish collectives in White Russia is even larger but some were “internationalized,” that is they were merged with collectives of non-Jews. By January of this year 26 Jewish collectives had been “internationalized” and in March this number had been increased to 45. This has been achieved despite the fact that large numbers of the Jewish collectivists are opposed to internationalization.

The collectives now embrace not only the poorer artisans and workers and peasants but all the former traders living in the neighborhood. In the Vitebsk region, for instance, the Jewish collectives include in their membership 29.6 percent ex-traders and in the Bobruisk region this percentage is 37.4 percent.

Speaking of economic conditions in the Jewish collectives the “Oktiabr” writes that on July 1, 1929 the collectives were burdened with very heavy debts. They owed the state and various social organizations no less than 1,711.071 roubles, an average of 7,281 roubles for each collective. This did not include debts to private persons. This great indebtedness was due to the fact that the membership of the collectives was drawn from the poorest section of the Jewish population who brought neither implements nor cattle. For that reason the Jewish collectives were forced to resort extensively to the credit aids granted by the state.

Today, the “Oktiabr” concludes, the situation is vastly improved and the collectives have not only established themselves successfully, possessing all of the necessary machines and implemvents but they have also been able to rid themselves largely of their indebtedness.

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