‘very Modest’ Advances in Jewish Cultural Life in Russia Reported

Some “very modest” advances in the cultural life of Soviet Jewry have just recently been made in the Soviet Union, it was reported here by Label Katz, international president of B’nai B’rith, who led a mission of his organization to the Soviet Union last August. He spoke at the annual meeting of the Jewish Welfare Fund of Chicago.

“Recently, several concerts of music by Jewish composers in Moscow and Odessa and productions of Yiddish theatre in Moscow have been oversubscribed, ” Mr. Katz reported. “That they were held at all is a hopeful sign.” He also said that a small Yiddish magazine appeared in the Soviet Union recently. Mr. Katz contrasted the dehydration of Jewish culture in the Soviet Union with the limitless opportunity for its expression in the United States.

“In the Soviet Union,” he said, “there is no Jewish education. In Moscow, a city with some 500,000 Jews there is just one large synagogue and two small ones. Here, in our United States, we recognize Jewish education as the foundation of Jewish life. Educated, knowledgeable, and informed Jews will ensure the continuity of Jewish life. We must provide such education.”

Mr. Katz, who serves on the national cabinet of the United Jewish Appeal, told the audience that in 1962 the UJA will require more than $100,000,000, a minimum 50 percent increase over its needs in 1961. “The largest portion of the money,” he said, “will be earmarked to meet the costs of immigration to Israel and the absorption of these new people into the social fabric of life in Israel.”

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