NEW YORK (Jun. 18)
Rabbi Yehuda Leib Levin, spiritual leader of Moscow’s Choral Synagogue, and Cantor David Stiskin of Leningrad, were squired around New York today by members of the American Council for Judaism, sponsor of their visit to the United States. With the pair were Richard Korn, Council president, and Bill Gottlieb, public relations director. Preparations were made for a public meeting to be held tomorrow at 8:15 p.m. at Hunter College here. A Council spokesman said that after the rabbi speaks he will accept questions from the floor. He will speak in Yiddish and his remarks will be immediately translated into English. Rabbi Wolfe Kelman, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative), has aided Rabbi Levin as a translator here.
Mr. Korn said that hundreds of Jewish and Christian leaders had accepted their invitations to meet the 74-year-old rabbi and the cantor. The religious delegation arrived last night at Kennedy Airport after landing in Montreal in a Soviet airliner. They received a tumultuous welcome, with many Orthodox representatives present. Rabbi Levin said that during his stay in the United States, which is expected to last two weeks, he would lecture on religious life as well as economic, legal and social questions concerning Soviet Jews. Rabbi Levin described his trip as non-governmental and “for the Jewish community” of Russia.
During the welcoming ceremony. Rabbi Pinchas M. Teitz of Elizabeth, N.J., read a statement in Hebrew which said: “We consider this visit not a private one, but as representing the entire Jewish community of Soviet Russia. We hope that this visit signifies a new era–an era of closer relationship between the world’s two largest Jewish communities–the American and the Russian.” Asked by a newsman whether his visit was permitted by the Soviet Government as a means of defending its policies toward Jews, Rabbi Levin replied: “The Soviet Government does not need me to defend it; it can defend itself.”
Mr. Korn said in a statement that other Jewish organizations are “perfectly free to deal with Rabbi Levin and his colleagues at their own discretion and in terms of their own interests and concerns.” He said the Council would only serve as an ‘advisory and protocol host to the Soviet Jewish delegation.” A Council spokesman said that he did not know what plans the delegation had beyond Wednesday, although he understood that Rabbi Bernard Poupko of Pittsburgh had extended an invitation to visit that city.
He said that many invitations had been extended by other rabbis and organizations to the delegation but did not know which, if any, had been accepted.
Rabbi Levin and Cantor Stiskin are staying in the Essex House hotel here. Since they adhere strictly to kashruth, a special set of dishes was purchased for their suite and a “glad kosher” cook had been hired by the Council to prepare their meals, the Council said. Both Russians will participate in services at the Mount Eden Jewish Center, a synagogue in The Bronx whose spiritual leader is Rabbi David Hollander, this Friday and Saturday. Rabbi Hollander, who accompanied him on the flight from Montreal, said Rabbi Levin expressed pleasure at the prospect of meeting American Jews who have visited him in Moscow. Rabbi Levin also brought a suitcase full of new prayer books recently issued by the Soviet Government.