A Moscow Synagogue Becomes Branch of Government Electricity Trust: Not Confiscated Since Synagogue H

The Workers’ Synagogue in Moscow has had to vacate the synagogue building and transfer its activities to a smaller building in the same district. The Electro-Trust, a Soviet State enterprise, finding itself in need of a building for a branch office in the workers’ district, applied to the court for an order to enable it to take possession of the Workers’ Synagogue. The application was granted by the lower court, and without waiting for confirmation by the Supreme Court, the administration of the Trust immediately took possession of the synagogue building.

The synagogue administration thereupon lodged a protest with the authorities, who immediately placed another building in the same area at its disposal for use as a synagogue. The highest Soviet quarters have expressed their regret to the synagogue administration at the hastiness of the Trust administration, and have added an assurance that had the matter come to their notice earlier, the synagogue building would not have been seized.

Mr. Albert Fuchs, President of the Moscow Jewish Community for many years and Chairman of the Jewish Burial Society in Moscow, speaking to-day with the J.T.A. representative here, said that what had happened could not be described as an act of anti-religious persecution. On the contrary, he said, the representatives of the Supreme authorities and also the Moscow city authorities have always been very attentive to the needs and requirements of the Jewish Community of Moscow. Despite the repeated demands of the Jewish Communists, he said, the supreme authorities have consistently refused to allow the Moscow Great Synagogue to be confiscated for conversion into a workers’ club.

In the same way, he went on, the Moscow City authorities have met the wishes of the Moscow Jewish Community in the matter of the Jewish cemetery. When all the cemeteries, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, situated within the boundaries of the city were closed down, he said, the Moscow Soviet set aside a field about 18 kilometres outside the city for the purpose of a Jewish cemetery, and gave the Moscow Jewish Community complete control of the cemetery.

The Commissariat of Trade, he added, has also given the Moscow Jewish Burial Society a permit to import a motor-hearse from abroad, without having to pay customs dues. You see, therefore, Mr. Fuchs concluded, that there is no question here of persecution of the Jewish religion by the Soviet Administration in Moscow.

Mr. Fuchs was arrested in February 1929 on a charge of irregular activity in connection with the Labour Credit Institution in Moscow, with which he is associated. The charges against him were disproved, however, and he was immediately released. It was stated at the time that the arrest was not connected in any way with his Jewish communal work.

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