Moscow Urged to Permit Soviet Jews to Invite U.S. Synagogue Leaders

The president of the Rabbinical Assembly today urged the Soviet Union to allow its Jewish religious community to invite synagogue leaders from the United States to the USSR “in the same official manner in which the Russian Orthodox Church is carrying on a dialogue with its counterpart in America, the National Council of Churches.” The plea was contained in Rabbi Edward T. Sandrow’s presidential report to the annual convention of the Assembly, the international organization of Conservative Rabbis, now meeting here.

Rabbi Sandrow revealed that a subcommittee of the Synagogue Council of America, the organization representing all trends in American Jewish religious life, had, had a meeting with the Counsellor of the Soviet Embassy in Washington last month, the upshot of which was a pro forma denial of a “Jewish problem” in the USSR.

“The whole meeting was a frustrating experience to me,” Rabbi Sandrow said. “Yet, it is my feeling that the Soviet Union seeks the goodwill and understanding of all groups in America, both religious and secular. Reports have been published in the press that the synagogues and streets surrounding the synagogues were filled on Passover. Maybe the Soviet Union is unhappy with those officials who, in spite of a constitutional prohibition against anti-Semitism, have carried on an anti-Semitic campaign against our people.” He then went on to ask for the invitation to a “dialogue” between Russian and American Jews.

The Assembly president praised the Supreme Court’s decision on reapportionment as a “landmark in the constitutional history of America” and regretted that it was not yet time to applaud a victory for the King-Anderson medical bill for the aged, or for a strong civil rights measure.

Rabbi Sandrow delivered a slashing attack on the “radical right” movement of “pseudo-patriots who have been attacking the Supreme Court, the State Department, universities, public schools, trade unions and even religious groups.” He warned that any minority can become “the easy target for the Birch Society, the White Citizens’ Councils and other such groups.”

Noting that the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations had announced a campaign to help provide Jewish communities throughout the world with spiritual and educational leaders, Rabbi Sandrow recalled that on his return from the Far East earlier in the year, he had urged an end to competition for the affiliation of Jews in other countries to this or that congregational or rabbinical organization. He asked that the stress must be “first on saving these communities for Judaism” and then trying to “mold them in our own image.” This call “still holds, ” he said, and “we sincerely hope that it will meet with a response from our sister organizations.”

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