NEW YORK (Sep. 21)
Rabbi Israel Miller, president of the Rabbinical Council of America (Orthodox), replied today to an “open letter” addressed to him last weekend, on the eve of the Eternal Light Vigil in Washington, calling that action “senseless.” The letter, released by the Soviet Embassy in Washington, bore the signatures of Moscow’s Chief Rabbi Yehudan Leib Levin; another Moscow Jewish leader, Rabbi Natan Olevsky; and Rabbi Avraam Haim Lubanov, of Leningrad. In his reply, Rabbi Miller told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
“I was surprised at the reaction of the respected Russian rabbis in their open letter to me released by the Soviet Embassy. From the tenor of their letter, I assume that they did not ask for an opportunity to read my complete recent statement which I made upon my return from Moscow, and which I will be pleased to send to them.
“The fact that all is not well for the Jewish community in the Soviet Union was affirmed by the Communist Party newspaper, Prayda, which, about two weeks ago, published a widely distributed editorial condemning anti-Semitism Pravda does not editorialize against a non-existent condition.
“I was pleased to hear from the rabbis that preparations for the publication of the prayer book are completed, that they are getting ready for ‘new’ enrollment in the yeshiva, and that matzon will be baked in all religious communities. I repeat the words of my statement that ‘these concessions represent only the beginning of a change which will result in the normalization of life for the entire Jewish community of Russia.’ I pray that this will be so.
“When I was in Russia I understood that Moscow’s Central Synagogue was the only one which had been granted the right to immediately seek a facility for baking of matzon for the next Passover. I am delighted to learn from the rabbis that matzons will be baked for all religious communities throughout the country. We in the United States hope for a betterment between the Soviet Union and the United States, and pray that peace and well-being will be our lot in the years ahead.”