TEL AVIV (Jul. 30)
The “new atmosphere” in the Soviet Union has not left the Jews of that country any less fearful of their future, a large audience at ZOA House here was told by Rabbi M. Lieberman, the only Russian-speaking member of a delegation of the New York Board of Rabbis which recently completed a study tour of the USSR, Poland and Czechoslovakia.
“Russian Jews, in spite of the fact that the atmosphere appears to be freer today, remain fearful and uncertain of their future,” the rabbi-reported. He cited the fact that Soviet Jews whom he met insisted that their meetings be kept secret or camouflaged.
Rabbi Lieberman stressed that a new Jewish prayer book, which has been in preparation for the past two years, has not yet been published. “If the Soviet leaders really wish to atone for the sins of Stalin, they should not wait another two years to publish the promised prayer book,” he said. He revealed that hand printed prayer books are now being circulated at $100 each.
The most paradoxical fact discovered on the tour, in the rabbi’s view, was that Soviet passports include reference to the Jewish identity of those holding them. This fact, he stressed, “is ironically responsible for helping to retain a lingering recognition of Jewish consciousness among Jewish youth in Soviet Russia.”
The rabbi concluded that unless some unbroken link is established between Russian Jewry and the Jews of the world, Russian Jewry faces extinction.