Moscow’s Chief Rabbi Says Promised New Prayer Books Are Being Printed

Rabbi Bernard A. Poupko reported today he had received a letter from Chief Rabbi Yehuda Levin of Moscow in which the Chief Rabbi declared that a promised new prayer book was “now being published” and that delays had been caused by preparations for the observance in the Soviet Union of the 50th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.

Rabbi Poupko, a vice-president of the Rabbinical Council of America, cited a promise he had received on a recent visit to the Soviet Union, that a new prayer book would be published. He said he had received the promise from Aaron Vergelis, editor of the Sovietische Heimland, the Soviet-sponsored Yiddish publication.

In his letter, Rabbi Levin wrote that the prayer book “will be completed in the near future.” The letter was dated September 21 and apparently the statement meant that the prayer books would not be ready for the High Holy Days starting tomorrow night. Rabbi Levin explained that the delays had been caused “by the over-crowded schedules of our publishing houses which are preparing for our 50th anniversary celebration.”

Rabbi Poupko disclosed that he had sent six letters on the prayer book matter to Rabbi Levin before receiving the September 21 reply.

(The Appeal to Conscience Foundation charged this week that Moscow had reneged on a promise to provide Soviet Jews with 10,000 prayer books before the High Holy Days and said there was no evidence that the books were being printed. The Foundation offered to fly the prayer books into Russia so that worshippers could have them in time for Yom Kippur.)

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