Jews in Britain Publish Memorandum Sent to Moscow on Soviet Jewry

The Board of Deputies of British Jews made public today the memorandum it sent to Soviet Premier Nikolai Bulganin and Communist Party chief Nikita Khrushchev when the Soviet leaders visited Britain last month. The memorandum started out by noting that news had reached British Jewry that new Jewish prayer books had been published in the Soviet Union, that new synagogues had been opened and that for the first time in many years, Jewish singers and cantors had appeared at Jewish concerts.

“A similar heartening feature of what may well be a fresh and forward looking policy is the permission given a number of Soviet citizens, now running into the several hundreds, to join their relatives in Israel and thus enable many families to be united,” the memorandum said. “We would appeal to the Government of the Soviet Union to extend the possibilities of emigration to Israel for those Jews within the Soviet Union who may desire to do so either because of family ties or because of Jewish national sentiment,” the document added.

“The Jewish community of the United Kingdom also appeals to the Government of the Soviet Union to proceed further with steps to enable the Jewish community of that country to resume a full Jewish national life and Jewish activities,” it said. “The Soviet Union has enabled many peoples within its borders to develop their own national culture and national life. We look forward with great expectation to the possibility that the Jews, too, may in the future be granted equal opportunities for such development.

“We trust further,” the Board statement said, “that facilities will be given for the establishment of rabbinical colleges to train rabbis and teachers; for the study of Hebrew, the language of prayer; for the building of an adequate number of synagogues; for the printing of prayer books and religious literature, and for the observance of dietary laws and other requirements of the Jewish religion. We look forward to the renewal of the publishing of books, newspapers and periodicals and generally to the provision of facilities of self expression in the field of Jewish religious and cultural life.

SEEK RIGHT FOR SOVIET JEWS TO COMMUNICATE WITH JEWS ABROAD

“The achievement of these purposes,” the memorandum continued, “makes it essential that the Jewish religious communities of the USSR should be in constant touch with one another and should therefore be allowed to organize themselves within a country-wide frame-work in the same way as other religious communities in the USSR.

“The Jews throughout the world are essentially a religious community which depends to a large extent for effectiveness on religious worship, study and observance, and on the maintenance of ties between rabbis and Jewish scholars in various countries. Facilities for an interchange of visits and inter-communication in other ways would therefore greatly strengthen the spiritual forces of Jewish life in the Soviet Union.

“In the course of history, countries, governments and social systems have often been judged by the way in which they treated the Jewish communities in their midst. We are confident that such steps as have been suggested for the improvement and progress of Jewish religious, cultural and national life in the Soviet Union would have a positive reaction on Jews and non-Jews the world over, for whom it would be a significant manifestation of the friendlier atmosphere and high hopes for world peace which attended and followed the meeting of the leaders of the Great Powers at Geneva last Summer,” the memorandum concluded.

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