Soviet Official Pledges Teaching of Hebrew in Soviet Schools

A high Soviet official has pledged in writing that the Hebrew language would be taught to children in the Soviet schools whenever ten parents request such instruction, Prof. Abraham I. Katsh, chairman of the Department of Hebrew Culture and Education at New York University, declared here today.

Dr. Katsh stopped here en route home from a nine-day visit to the USSR. The promise to permit teaching of Hebrew was given him in writing by Alexander Arsenyev, deputy minister of Education in the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, largest republic in the Soviet Union. Mr. Arsenyev promised further, Dr. Katsh declared, that, later, facilities will be established in the Russian public schools for further Hebrew studies in literature and history. According to the NYU professor, Hebrew has not been taught in the Soviet Union since 1947, except to carefully selected specialists.

Dr. Katsh reported also that he negotiated an agreement, in the USSR, for the exchange between Russian scientific institutions and those in other countries of microfilm reproductions of Hebraica manuscripts.

The New York educator said he had found about 200 Jews in the Moscow synagogue when he visited it. He was told by Soviet authorities that there are about 3,000,000 Jews living in the USSR now. Jews to whom he spoke in Yiddish, told Dr. Katsh, he reported, that conditions “improved considerably” for them after the death of Joseph Stalin.

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