Soviet Publications Counter Western Criticism on Treatment of Jews

Soviet publications circulated entirely among readers outside the USSR were seen here today as having undertaken a campaign to counter Western criticisms against the denial of religious and cultural rights to the Jews in the Soviet Union. Articles in the publications, distributed here by the Soviet mission to the United Nations, picture Soviet Jews as enjoying freedom of religion as well as full political and cultural rights.

The latest issue of USSR, an illustrated magazine printed for distribution solely in the United States, carries an article and photographs depicting the recent celebration in Moscow’s Central Synagogue of the 70th birthday of the capital’s chief rabbi, Rabbi Yehuda-Leib Levin. The article states that the chief rabbi’s birthday observance was attended by Israel’s Ambassador in Moscow, Yosef Tekoah, by rabbis from Moscow and Odessa, and by leading Christian clergymen representing the Russian Orthodox Church.

Featured is a portrait taking up almost a full page showing Rabbi Levin delivering a sermon on behalf of peace. The podium in front of the rabbi is decorated with a cloth showing the dove of peace and the Hebrew word “Shalom.” Other photographs show Ambassador Tekoah, other members of the Israeli Embassy staff in Moscow, members of the synagogue’s congregation, and a Rabbi Geshl Gevich, identified as “an alumnus of the Yeshivah headed by Rabbi Levin.”

Articles dealing in general with the political and cultural life of Jews in the USSR are included in two successive issues of Soviet Weekly, a publication issued in London for British readers. One is a lengthy piece by Aaron Vergelis, editor of Sovietische Heim-land, the only Yiddish magazine in the USSR, giving the usual statistics intended to prove that there are no discriminations against Jews in his country. This article is illustrated with photographs showing large audiences attending Jewish cultural events in Vilna, Lithuania.

Another Soviet Weekly article is devoted to an effort to disprove that synagogues in the Soviet Union have been demolished. This piece claims that, contrary to reports in the foreign press in the United States and Britain, the synagogue in Minsk, reported closed down, has actually moved to rented quarters in another location, when the city had to raze the “dilapidated synagogue building” as well as “other old houses in the street.”

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