LONDON (Feb. 27)
A group of children from the American Embassy in Moscow joined with worshippers in Moscow’s Central Synagogue last night in celebrating Purim, it was reported here today from the Soviet capital.
The children came on a bus provided by the Embassy carrying Purim noise-makers provided by the Israel Embassy. They included Protestants, Catholics and Jews. An elderly Jew greeted the visitors with a question: “Are you from In tourist?” A girl replied: “No we’re from the American Embassy. We’d like to attend your service.”
A crowd of elderly men and women blocking the steps made way for the American children. They used their noisemakers to mock each mention of the name of Haman. Since Purim noisemakers are not available in the Soviet Union, many of the worshippers simply pounded their pews with their fists or stamped on the floor. Some ancient noise-makers were used and attracted considerable attention. Some 800 Jews were at the services, most of them elderly.
Mrs. Ruth Smith, a Protestant who is the wife of an assistant air attache at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, led the children. Rev. Donald V. Roberts of New York, a Presbyterian minister, also attended.
The idea of visiting the synagogue started when some of the children of Embassy officials expressed interest in visiting various houses of worship in Moscow. Before leaving each youngster received a fact sheet about Purim and the Israel Embassy provided handsomely printed pocket-sized scrolls in Hebrew. The youngsters left the noisemakers and the scrolls with the Jews they met in the synagogue.