Jewish Situation in the Soviet Union Discussed in Britain

Russian Jews still interested in Jewish matters are afraid to show such interest because the atmosphere created by Soviet authorities toward Jewish problems is “unfriendly, not to say hostile,” according to a report presented today at the meeting of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. The report said that Jewish travelers who have returned from recent tours of Russia, where they looked for opportunities to meet Jews for private talks, all confirmed that Russian Jews were afraid to talk to them.

The possibility of progressive improvement in relations between the Western countries and the U.S.S.R. , which appeared possible at one time last year, was dampened by the Suez crisis, creating new tensions between Russia and the Western powers, especially England, and more hostility towards Israel and Jews generally, including Russian Jews, the report said.

Despite danger that a display of interest in Jewish matters may hurt chances of Russian Jews for employment, education of their children and similar personal issues, the returning travelers also reported, Jews they met showed the greatest interest in Jewish life abroad, particularly Israel. “However, this estrangement from Jewish life which has been enforced for so many years has inevitably resulted in a very far advanced process of assimilation, threatening the disappearance of the Jewish community in Russia–a matter of gravest concern to Jews in the Western world,” the report said.

The indications of Soviet leadership of a new interest in developing contacts with Great Britain may make possible further endeavor for closer contacts and exchanges of properly constituted and authorized delegations between the Jewish communities of Russia and England, the report added.

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