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Soviet Yiddish Communist Press Renews Anti-religious Drive As Jewish High Holidays Approach

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With the approach of the Jewish High Holidays, the Yiddish Communist press, hitherto quiescent on the subject for some time, is again starting an ardent anti-religious campaign. The Emes, organ of the Moscow Yiddish Communists, devotes a recent issue almost entirely to the question of religion, and launches a fierce attack upon rabbis who, the paper says “are no better than the clericals of the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran or churches, doing everything they can to exploit the difficulties of the Soviet regime.”

Zionists, Jewish Socialists, and two of the most famous rabbis of Europe, the Chofetz Chaim and the Gerer Rebbe, are linked by the Emes with the Roman Catholics in an alleged attempt to overthrow the proletarian dictatorship. After calling this “dark conspiracy” to the attention of its readers, the Emes remarks “no wonder then that the Jewish masses have turned from religion with disgust. The Jewish working masses have converted many synagogues into clubs and workshops. They will see to it that those synagogues which have been left will also be turned into useful institutions.”

Nevertheless the Emes finds that religion is not yet exterminated, and that “it is serving as an obstacle along the whole front of Soviet constructive work. The war against religion must be waged especially at this time when the Jewish High Holidays are approaching and the Jewish clericals are engaged in a campaign of their own. Anti-religious activity must be combined with a fight against Jewish nationalism and chauvinism.”

The same issue of the Emes contains a series of reports from various towns and villages throughout the Soviet Union in which the writers complain that the local anti-religious groups have ceased to exist, except on paper, and are no longer active thus encouraging the clericals to renewed activity and “an unhindered revival of religious propaganda.” A correspondent from Homel writes that the clergy there are offering to conduct services even without payment so long as they can get a congregation and a synagogue. The correspondent complains that the rabbis receive their compensation from “foreign Jewish organizations.”

Similar complaints that the rabbis are again finding a response among the Jewish masses, and that even the young people, “terror-stricken” with the approach of the Jewish High Holidays, are attending synagogue, appear in the Emes from a number of other places.

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