Moscow Intensifies Drive Against Jewish Religion; Closes Synagogues

The intensification of suppression of Jewish religion in the Soviet Union was reported here today at the United Nations where facts were revealed showing that numerous synagogues have been closed by local Soviet authorities in various parts of the USSR, primarily in the Ukraine, where there is a large Jewish population.

The report establishes that the baking of matzoth was forbidden last Passover in the leading Ukrainian cities of Kharkov, Odessa, Kiev, as well as in the central Russian cities of Kuibyshev and Rostov. Difficulties were made also for Jews who wanted to bake matzoth in Moscow and in Leningrad, but the authorities there finally permitted the baking. With regard to the liquidation of synagogues the report enumerates the following facts:

1. In Novoselitsa, in the Ukraine, two buildings that had been used as synagogues were confiscated and turned into club houses.

2. In Olevsk, small Jewish religious groups, which had been permitted since the synagogue was converted into a school in 1949, have all been disbanded in recent months in this Ukrainian town.

3. In Vinnitsa, the synagogue has been confiscated and Jews are now praying in an abandoned building.

4. In Korosten a year ago the Jewish community, having saved a considerable sum for a synagogue, was unable to obtain an official permit but built it anyway. The building was confiscated and an appeal to Moscow was rejected.

5. In Yevpatoriya, in the Crimea, the authorities confiscated 25, 000 rubles raised by the Jewish community to rent a building for a synagogue.

6. In Baranovichi, in Byelorussia, the great synagogue has been taken over for use by the State Security Committee. Since then the authorities have not permitted the rabbi to function and have forbidden ritual cattle slaughter or any other exercise of the Jewish religion.

7. In Tula, 150 miles south of Moscow, use of the synagogue, which was in a communal apartment, was forbidden because the non-Jewish resident informed authorities that he was disturbed by the prayers. The synagogue in Orenburg, 750 miles southeast of Moscow, also has been closed recently.

8. In Rybnitsa, in Bessarabia, there is widespread fear the synagogue will close shortly. In Rakhov, in Transcarpathia, the two synagogues that remained open have been confiscated and turned into stores.

9. In Irkutsk, eastern Siberia, the first floor of a synagogue was confiscated recently to provide housing for medical students.

The report also revealed that in Kharkov, the twenty small Jewish groups were dispersed last September during the second day of the Jewish New Year celebrations. All the Torahs were confiscated and a policeman told one of the Jews, “You are eating Russian bread but praying for Israel.”

This was in line with an article denouncing “the reactionary essence of the Judaean religion,” which appeared in the Lvov Pravda. The article recalled that when Jews eat matzoth at Passover, they express the hope that they will eat it the following year “in Jerusalem, on Israel soil,” and added: “However, don’t the religious Jews know that Israel is at present an obedient tool in the hands of American, British and French imperialists?”

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