NEW YORK (Oct. 13)
Russian anti-Semites started fires this Rosh Hashanah at a synagogue and at the cottage of the caretaker of a Jewish cemetery in Malakhovka, a Moscow suburb, according to an American traveler who has Just returned from the Soviet Union. The New York Times reported today.
The traveler, whose name was withheld, said the two attempts at arson in Malakhovka occurred early in the morning on the second day of Rosh Hashanah and that the fires were the latest of several recent anti-Semitic incidents in the suburb.
He reported that firemen saved the small wooden 300-seat synagogue but that the cottage was destroyed and the wife of the caretaker, a woman of 70, was killed when she tried to take some possessions out of the burning cottage. Emergency repairs were made on the synagogue and second day Bosh Hashanah services were held.
Although the suburb is in an area forbidden to foreign diplomats and correspondents, the American businessman was able to visit the scene and corroborate the facts which had been reported to the Jewish community in Moscow. The arson attempts reports did not appear in the Soviet press.
The American said that after the two fires, leaflets were found near the two buildings charging Soviet Jews with disloyalty to the Soviet Union. The heading of one leaflet read: “Death to the Jews–Save the Revolution.” Earlier incidents included throwing of stones at the synagogue, defacement of the altar and desecration of some graves in the cemetery.
Malakhovka has a population of 30,000, which includes 3,000 Jews. The synagogue is one of four in the Moscow area. There is a cantor but no rabbi. The congregation includes members born since the Bolshevik Revolution. The American reported that Malakhovka Jews appeared more concerned about the implications of the series of incidents than about the two arson efforts.