U.N. Body Adopts Principles Guaranteeing Religious Freedom in Russia
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U.N. Body Adopts Principles Guaranteeing Religious Freedom in Russia

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A set of principles that would guarantee to all persons everywhere in the world, including the Soviet Union, fullest rights of religious freedom and practice, was adopted here today by the Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.

A number of the principles aimed at some of the Soviet Union’s discriminations against Jewish religious rights and practices–such as denial of the right to bake matzoth for Pass over and the right to educate rabbinical candidates or send them abroad for rabbinical training. However, the Soviet representative on the Subcommission, Boris S. Ivanov, voted for all of the clauses in the draft principles which were adopted unanimously by the group of 12 social and political scientists, attorneys and Jurists, all of them serving as individual experts not formally representing their governments.

The draft principles now go to the Subcommission’s parent body, the Commission on Human Rights, which will convene at Geneva in March. They were adopted after another exchange of accusations between Morris B. Abram, the United States expert on the group, and Mr. Ivanov. Mr. Abram referred briefly to one form of Soviet discrimination against Jewish religious rights by noting that the Soviet Government ordered the closing of the synagogue at Lwow last November. Mr. Ivanov replied by charging that the United States discriminates against Negroes.


One of the principles aiming directly at current anti-Jewish discriminations practiced by Soviet authorities included, without mentioning either matzoth or the USSR, the following:

“No one shall be prevented from observing the dietary practices prescribed by his religion or belief. The members of a religious belief shall not be prevented from acquiring or producing all materials and objects necessary for the performance or observance of prescribed rituals or practices, including dietary practices.”

Going further to aim at the fact that the Soviet Government controls the means of producing matzoth, the next clause stated: “Where the Government controls the means of production and distribution, it shall make such materials or objects, or the means of producing them, available to the members of the religion or belief concerned. ” This article aimed also at Soviet bans against the making of prayer shawls, phylacteries or the Hebrew calendar necessary for the accurate scheduling of traditional Jewish holidays and observances.


Taking account of the fact that Soviet authorities have placed hindrances in the training of rabbinical candidates in the USSR, that no Jew wishing to study for the rabbinate is allowed to go abroad for such training and education, and that Jewish children in the USSR do not have religious training but are subjected to atheistic indoctrination instead, one of the principles stated:

“Everyone shall be free to teach or to disseminate his religion or belief in public or in private. No one shall be compelled to receive religious or atheistic instruction, contrary to his convictions or, in the case of children, contrary to the wishes of their parents and, when applicable, legal guardians. No group professing a religion or belief shall be prevented from training the personnel intended to devote themselves to the performance of its practices or observances, or from bringing teachers from abroad necessary for this purpose. When such training is available only outside the country, no permanent limitations shall be placed upon travel abroad for the purpose of undergoing sustraining.”

In general, the principles held that “everyone shall be free to adhere, or not to and to a religion or belief” and that “anyone professing any religious or non-religious belief shall be free to do so openly without suffering any discrimination on account of his religion or belief.”

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