NEW YORK (Feb. 28)
There is still one synagogue open in Chernovtsy, an Ukrainian city with a population of between 40,000 and 50,000 Jews, but Communists are making a strong effort to close down that last remaining Jewish house of worship through inflammatory propaganda, according to an authoritative report from the Soviet Union received here by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today, Chernovtsy used to be known as Czernovitz when it was the capital of Bukhovina in prewar Rumania.
The facts in the case had been inadvertently confused in press reports earlier this week, due to deliberate obfuscation by the zealous propaganda efforts of “Voyovnichy Ateist” (Militant Atheist), the Kiev monthly of the Ukrainian Institute for Dissemination of Scientific Knowledge on Atheism. The January issue of the atheist organ had indicated that the last Chernovtsy synagogue had been closed down in response to “demands” by 3,000 atheists, and “Jewish believers.”
Actually, according to today’s report, the authorities in Chernovtsy have not yet taken action to close the synagogue. The city’s “Great Synagogue” was shut down in 1959. A second Jewish house of worship, on Russky Street, was closed down in 1961 and turned into an elementary school.
Expert observers here pointed out that the misreporting by “Voyovnichy Ateist” may be a prelude to the shut-down of Chernovtsy’s last synagogue. The same tactic was employed by the Communists prior to the shut-down, last November, of the last synagogue at Lwow.