Moscow Authorities Promise Chief Rabbi to Print Jewish Prayer Books

Soviet authorities in Moscow have promised to correct several specific grievances long voiced in regard to USSR discriminations against Jews in the Soviet Union, the press reported here today in dispatches from Moscow. The promises were reported to have been made to Moscow’s Chief Rabbi Yehuda Leib Levin, who had relayed the pledges to a nine-man delegation from the Rabbinical Council of America that is now visiting the Soviet Union.

The promises, according to the Moscow reports in the New York Times and New York Herald Tribune, included pledges that 10,000 new Jewish prayer books would be printed; that 20 yeshiva students from various sections of the USSR would be given residence permits, so that they could attend the yeshiva in the Central Synagogue in Moscow; and that permission would be given to the Jews in the USSR to bake matzoth for next Passover. No date was given for the publication of the prayer books. The Herald Tribune correspondent pointed out, however, that, under Soviet law, Jews have always been allowed the privilege of baking matzoth–but have not been provided by local authorities the facilities needed for matzoth baking.

One grievance that has not yet been solved even through a promise, the reports noted, concerned the lack of consecrated cemetery space for Jews, especially in Leningrad, where the old Jewish burial grounds are full but no permission for consecration of another site has as yet been granted. Not only older Jews, but even younger Jewish adults, were reported concerned that they would not be permitted to be buried in consecrated grounds.

Rabbi Levin told the American rabbis that he had received the assurances regarding the other grievances from A. A. Puzin, chairman of the Soviet Government’s Council for the Affairs of Religious Cults. However, Rabbi Israel Miller, the head of the American rabbinical delegation, was quoted as saying: “I am still a little skeptical. You know, all kinds of promises have been made in the past.”

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