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Destruction of Jewish Life in Russia Within 15 Years is Predicted

The Soviet Union’s policy of destroying Jewish life by forced attrition “is likely to succeed completely in 10 to 15 years,” Prof. Erich Goldhagen, director of the Institute of East European Jewish Affairs at Brandeis University, said here. He based his fears on the restrictive policies which, among other prohibitions, deny Soviet Jews the right to train replacements for their small number of aging rabbis and other religious functionaries.

By the 1980’s, the present handful will have passed on; and, with it, the process of transmitting the Jewish heritage to another generation of Soviet Jews, Prof. Goldhagen said at ceremonies yesterday opening a B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations exhibit on “The Tragedy of Soviet Jewry,” at the American University here. Unless pressures from outside force a shift in Soviet policies, “Judaism in the Soviet Union will be reduced to a faint remnant within the next decades,” he warned.

He said that Soviet officials, who resent the concern of Western Jews for their co-religionists in the USSR, also “watch with satisfaction how the Jewish substance is being sapped as they constrict and prohibit all serious attempts at keeping alive the Jewish tradition.”

The 14-panel exhibit, on display at the American University for an indefinite period, illustrates with vivid photographs, and documents with charts and statistics, the plight of Soviet Jewry. The concluding panel, titled “I Shall Not Die,” depicts dramatically the continuing will of Soviet Jews to live Jewishly. During the academic year, the exhibit will tour other American and Canadian college campuses.

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