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Worshippers Crowd Moscow Synagogues on Yom Kippur

Synagogues in the Soviet capital were unusually crowded today and even overcrowded with worshippers who came to observe Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. In part, this was due to the fact that the general rest day coincided with Yom Kippur, enabling many worshippers to attend the services, who otherwise would have been to work.

The Moscow Jews who crowded the synagogues were noticeably of the older generation. Few young people were present.

In one synagogue, the part formerly used to house overflow services was occupied by a Jewish workers’ club, which this year, as in the past, organized an anti-religious meeting on Yom Kippur with the loudest brass band they could procure, in order to annoy and disturb the neighboring worshippers. They made so much noise that it was difficult to hear the cantor conduct the services.

The Kol Nidre services on the eve of Yom Kippur were attended mostly by women, who filled the women’s gallery and even occupied the men’s section.

The poverty of many of the worshippers was tragically illustrated by the unprecedented number of beggars, who surrounded the Great Synagogue on Spaglenitchev Street. The beggars filled both sides of the street and besieged the worshippers for alms.

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