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Soviet Denial of Religious Rights to Jews Hit in Passover Statements

Leaders of Jewish organizations in the United States today condemned the Soviet Union in Passover statements for the USSR’s general denial of religious and cultural rights to Russian Jewry and, particularly, for denying to Russia’s 3,000,000 Jews this year the right to obtain matzohs.

Statements dealing with the current situation of Russian Jewry were issued by the American Jewish Committee; the Synagogue Council of America, the central national agency representing rabbinical and congregational organizations of Conservative, Orthodox and Reform Judaism in this country; and Mrs. Sidney Leff, national president of Sidney Women, labor Zionist Women’s Organization.

At the same time, reports reaching here from all over the United States indicated, that in many synagogues and temples around the country, special Passover rabbinical sermons would deal with the situation of Russian Jews and the Soviet Union’s ban against matzoh baking in state factories this year.

On behalf of the American Jewish Committee, Louis Caplan president, pointed out that, while religious liberties are curtailed for all groups in the Soviet Union, “Soviet Jews suffer far greater handicaps and disabilities than others. No federation of Jewish communities is allowed in the USSR,” Mr. Caplah noted, “and even contact and communication between local congregations appears either to be disrupted or non-existent. Similarly, no contact is allowed with Jewish religious bodies outside the USSR. Countless Jews,” he continued, “will be deprived of the matzohs, the symbol of Passover, due to the Soviet Government’s prohibition against the baking of matzohs in state-operated bakeries.

SOVIET BAN ON MATZOH IS NOT THE ONLY MATTER OF CONCERN TO U. S. JEWS

Rabbi Julius Mark, president of the Synagogue Council of America, stated that the matzoh situation in the Soviet Union is not the only matter of concern to organized American-Jewish religion.” We are deeply concerned, ” he stated “over reports emanating from the Soviet Union that our fellow-Jews in that country are being subjected to new harassments. The lives of many are in jeopardy. A number have been arrested and at least two have been executed.”

Speaking for the Pioneer Women, Mrs. Leff denounced in her Passover message the spiritual genocide” practiced by Soviet authorities against the USSR’s 3,000,000 Jews. Other major Jewish organizations have similarly condemned the Soviet action in their Passover statements.

(In Jerusalem, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Nissim spoke tonight, in a Passover broadcast, of the dangers of assimilation hovering over “certain Jewish communities,” stressing the removal of religious freedom of Soviet Jewry indicated in the ban on the baking of matzoh for Russian Jews. He called on world Jewry to gird itself with “the spiritual armament” of the Jewish people, namely, faith and observance of the commandments and strengthening of the link with Israel.)

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