Between the Lines

The reported abolition of the bread card system in 175 towns of Soviet Russia is not a pro-Jewish act. Nevertheless it will spell relief for thousands and thousands of Jews.

There are still tens of thousands of Jews in Soviet Russia —especially in the Ukraine—who on account of their pre-war professions are not yet entitled to bread cards. They are the so-called declassed element who because of their social past are deprived of the privilege of obtaining bread at government cooperative shops.

For these thousands of Jews the problem of obtaining bread has been most acute during all the seventeen years of the Soviet regime. Those of them who had children working in Soviet enterprises shared their children’s bread. Others depended solely upon incidental and illegal buying of bread at high prices.

BREAD PROBLEM OVER

Now this problem will no longer exist. The abolition of the ration cards for bread enables these people to purchase bread now in government bakeries at government prices. It removes the worry which burdened the older generation of Jews.

With the discrimination against Jewish clergy abolished last month, and with the disposal of bread cards now, the religious Jew in Soviet Russia is finally put on an equal status with the young generation, which recognizes no religion. He is gradually becoming a full-fledged citizen of the Soviet Union.

RESTORATION OF HEBREW

One after another the specific difficulties imposed by the Soviet regime upon Jewish townships are disappearing. This is very commendable in the light of anti-Semitic discriminations in other East European countries. The next step for the Soviet government to take is to permit the teaching of Hebrew and a free migration to Palestine. The Jews of the world would then have practically no complaint against the Soviet government. They would then acknowledge that the Soviet government really has no intention to discriminate in any way against any of its Jewish citizens.

The Soviet authorities claim that officially the Hebrew language is not under ban in Soviet Russia. They point to the fact that the famous Habima theatre originated in Moscow under the Soviet regime. They also point out that in Leningrad and Minsk books appeared only a few years ago.

The truth of the matter is, however, that while officially the Hebrew language is not prohibited in Soviet Russia, it is nevertheless difficult for any Soviet Jew to provide Hebrew instruction for his children. Local Soviet officials, especially in the provincial cities, confuse the teaching of Hebrew with Zionism. To them everybody who teaches his children Hebrew is a Zionist. Since Zionism is prohibited in Russia, it reflects automatically upon the status of Hebrew.

Whether the Soviet government is right in suppressing Zionism is a matter which has been discussed more than once. Soviet leaders think that since every other political movement is prohibited in Soviet Russia, there is no reason why Zionism, which is also a political movement, should be made an exception. They find it difficult, however, to explain why the Hebrew language is not freely permitted in the country.

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