Chief Rabbi of Moscow Discusses Jewish Issues with American Newsman

Rabbi Yehuda Leib Levin, chief rabbi of Moscow, told the Associated Press in Moscow that his Central Synagogue has no library or Hebrew school, and that applicants for the Yeshiva in his congregation from other parts of the Soviet Union cannot come to the capital because there is no place for them to live in the crowded city, and residence permits are refused to them, the AP reported here today. The last graduating class of the Yeshiva completed its studies there three years ago, Rabbi Levin told the American news agency, the class of “less than 30″ including a few rabbis, schochtim and cantors, the report stated.

The rabbi also said, according to the report, that no Hebrew prayer books have been printed in the Soviet Union since 1956, when the only other edition was published since 1917; and that Soviet Jews are trying to print a prayer book “for all seasons” and hope that, eventually, a Hebrew Bible will be published. Rabbi Levin told the AP reporter: “It is difficult for us to realize all these objectives at once.”

Other statements attributed to the rabbi in the Moscow report included an assertion that Moscow has no Jewish cemetery, Jews and Christians being buried in common burial grounds; that there are few Bar Mitzvahs in the synagogue because “almost 90 percent of the children are Pioneers,” (a Communist organization for children); that the Jewish “believers” contribute money to the synagogue, but neednno help from abroad; and that: “In the Soviet Union we have no anti-Semitism, but maybe there are some anti-Semites.”

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