Levin Refuses to Discuss Prayer at Wall with Israeli Editors, Suggests Letter

Rabbi Yehuda Leib Levin of Moscow, currently visiting the United States, told the editors of an afternoon daily here in an overseas telephone conversation that any invitation to him to visit Israel should be put in writing because “one cannot talk of such things over the phone.” The editors of Yediot Achronot, who placed the call, had asked Rabbi Levin if “there is any possibility that you will come to pray near the Western Wall?”

(The New York Times today carried an advertisement consisting of an “open letter to the Chief Rabbi of Moscow” from the American Association for Jewish Education which deplored the lack of Jewish spiritual and cultural facilities in the Soviet Union. The letter described in detail the extent of Jewish education in the U.S. where “almost 600,000 of our children between the ages of five and 17 regularly receive Jewish religious and cultural education in a large system of one-day, afternoon and all-day Hebrew schools.” The letter also noted that the Jewish educational establishment here was supported voluntarily by American Jews to the extent of nearly $100 million per year. “No doubt our brothers in the Soviet Union will be thrilled to learn these and other facts,” the letter said. “We are told that the Constitution of the Soviet Union guarantees to its ethnic group of three million Jews, as it does to all other ethnic minorities, the right to preserve their cultural and religious identity. We wonder, therefore, why five and a half million Jews in the U.S. are able to provide the kinds of facilities described above while three million Jews in the Soviet Union are not able to provide religious or cultural education of any kind to their several hundred thousand of children.”)

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