Rabbis to Devote Yom Kippur Sermons to Soviet Jewry

In a special pastoral letter addressed to all members of The Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of Conservative rabbis, Rabbi Theodore Friedman, president of the organization, today called on his colleagues to devote their Yom Kippur sermons to the situation and problems that confront the Jewish community in Russia. The members of The Rabbinical Assembly serve hundreds of congregations in the United States, Canada, Latin America, Germany and Israel.

Speaking of the threats to the Jewish communities of Soviet Russia today, Rabbi Friedman said: “There is no more suitable occasion for bringing this situation to the attention of our people as effectively as we can, than on the High Holy Days, when we discuss the fate and future of our people, Virtually every week brings fresh evidence of the unrelenting policy of the Soviet Government to effectuate the extinction of Jewish religious practices and cultural life.”

A sharp protest against the death sentence imposed by a Soviet court against Rabbi B. Gavrilov, of Pyatigorsk, was sent to the Soviet Ambassador in Washington by Rabbi Abraham N.AvRutick, president of the Rabbinical Council of America, an Orthodox group. The letter, voicing the sentiments of the several hundred rabbis who are members of the Council, request the Soviet envoy, Anatoly F. Dobrynin, to ask his Government to remit the death sentence and to stop persecuting the Jewish people in the USSR.

An officer of the Council declared that, unless a positive answer were received from Ambassador Dobrynin “in a few days,” the U.S. Government will be asked to intervene on the issue with the Soviet delegation at the United Nations.

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