Conference of European Rabbis Appeals to Moscow for Soviet Jews

A two-day Conference of European Rabbis ended today with a decision to submit a memorandum to the Soviet Government, expressing grave concern about the religious situation of Soviet Jewry, “who are denied religious freedom guaranteed by the Soviet constitution.”

The resolution, which will be given to the Soviet Ambassador in Rome, also asked the Soviet Government to permit the baking of matzoh in state factories which the Government halted in 1962 and 1963, as well as for this year.

Rabbi A. Rose, of Britain, cited a memorandum from official sources showing a decrease in the number of synagogues in Russia from 450 in 1954 to 96 in 1963. He said that large Jewish communities had been left without a single house of worship.

The memorandum expressed special concern about the difficulties facing Russian Jews in obtaining matzoh. These difficulties create hardships which have not been resolved, the memorandum declared, by recent authorization to Russian Jews to receive matzoh shipments from abroad. The memorandum also asked the Soviet Government that permission be given for the manufacture of ritual articles and for publication of essential religious literature and prayerbooks.

The memoradum also asked authorization to permit ties for Russian Jews with Jewish organizations in other countries, and appealed for adequate government measures to halt anti-Semitic propaganda. The memorandum cited a “nefarious” book, “Judaism Without Embellishment,” published in Kiev in 1963 by the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences.

The rabbis were guests of honor at a reception tendered by Italian Jewish leaders, at which Fausto Pitigliani, president of the Rome Jewish Community, stressed that the time and place of the conference might prove to be well-chosen in view of “present hopes for understanding and approach among the monotheistic religions.” Judge Piperno, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, discussed Soviet discrimination against Russian Jews.

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