UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (May. 24)
The Soviet delegation at the United Nations today went out of its way to disseminate a statement stressing that the Jewish religion enjoys full freedom in the USSR and that there are even a “Mikveh” and a “Sukkah” in the Moscow synagogue.
The statement estimates that about 3,000 Jews attend services at the synagogue on Jewish holidays and that an average of 10,000 persons attend the synagogue each month. It reproduces the full text of a prayer for peace included in a Siddur “published on the initiative of the Jewish community” and edited by Moscow Chief Rabbi S.M. Schliffer.
“Soviet Jews,” the statement says, “guarantee to religious people complete freedom to perform their tites and rites, to observe all dictates of their faith. The Soviet Government sees to it that they are able to exercise this freedom. For example, a big state bakery supplies matzohs for the Passover holidays. Matzohs may be bought in 30 stores at Moscow. The Jewish community, which has charge of the Moscow synagogue, decides all its problems independently.” Its affairs are conducted by the board of the community and auditing commission.
The statement, dated May 10 and obviously prepared in Moscow, was written by L. Rogachevsky whose identity is not established. It describes the Moscow synagogue and says the synagogue possesses “unique editions of old prayer books and most valuable manuscripts.” It says that “several American delegations” have visited the synagogue and that “foreign visitors have made oral and written statements attesting that there is freedom of worship in the USSR for all religions, including the Jewish religion.” Sixteen British delegations have visited the synagogue in the past few years and Lord Stangate, president of the Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, prayed in the synagogue.
“Delegations from Latin American countries,” the statement continues, “have also seen the Jewish community. Argentinian school teachers who visited the synagogue said they were satisfied that there is complete freedom of religious worship in the Soviet Union. Mr. Goldman, editor of the Argentinean Tribune, wrote in the visitors’ book expressing deep gratitude to and respect for the people who invest their knowledge, energy and love in the struggle for peace. He also paid glowing tribute to the leader of the Moscow Jewish community.”