NEW YORK (Nov. 2)
Dr. Nahum Goldmann said today that, as a result of such protest meetings as the September Paris conference on the plight of Soviet Jews, “things are beginning to move” within the Soviet Union. He cautioned, however, that the process of amelioration of the lot of Soviet Jewry would be a long and slow one.
The world Jewish leader made the statement at a press conference at the Jewish Agency offices here. Asserting that he himself had initially had doubts about the advisability of the Paris conference, he said today that he was now glad the conference was held.
As examples of what he termed evidence that changes in official Soviet attitudes toward Soviet Jewry were occurring, Dr. Goldmann said that a number of books by living Yiddish writers in Russia were now in preparation; that the Union of Soviet writers had submitted a formal request to the Soviet Government for establishment of a Yiddish Journal; and that discussions were now under way in Soviet Government circles on the creation of a permanent Yiddish theater in Russia.
Dr. Goldmann disclosed that the Paris conference on Soviet Jewry decided not to dissolve, and that Daniel Mayer, president of the League for the Rights of Man who presided at the Paris meeting, had been instructed to be prepared to reconvene the conference whenever the occasion warranted. “For the first time, we have a primarily non-Jewish instrument which is taking an interest in Soviet Jews.” Dr. Goldmann said. “I know that the Soviets paid attention to the conference and the delegates. They tried to persuade some of the delegates not to attend.”
FAVORS SEEKING CHANGES IN ‘ANTI-JEWISH’ ELEMENTS IN CATHOLIC CATECHISM
Dr. Goldmann also disclosed that he had been talking with leaders of various Jewish groups about the possibility, which he described as completely uncertain, that Jews might be invited to attend the next Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church in 1962.
He said the situation currently was that there was a possibility that non-Catholic groups might be invited by Pope John XXIII to attend and that, if this occurred, and if such church groups accepted, then Jews might be invited to attend. In that event, Dr. Goldmann said, the question would be: Who would represent the Jews?
He added that he felt that much more important than the presently hypothetical question of Jewish representation at the Ecumenical Council was the question of pressing for changes in anti-Jewish elements in Catholic liturgy and catechism, which he called one of the major historical sources of anti-Sentism.
Noting that Pope John had made some changes in liturgy, Dr. Goldmann said that only the Ecumenical Council could make changes in the Catholic catechism. He said there was no reason why Jews should not appear at the Ecumenical Council to ask suck changes, and that he favored such action. He stated that an invitation to Jews to attend, presumably as observers, would be properly considered as evidence that the Catholic church no longer considered Judaism an “accursed” religion.