Conference Says Rabbi Levin Errs in Statement USSR Has 85 Ordained Rabbis
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Conference Says Rabbi Levin Errs in Statement USSR Has 85 Ordained Rabbis

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The American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry expressed today a difference of opinion with Rabbi Yehuda Leib Levin and the Soviet mission to the United Nations on certain conditions of Soviet Jewry. “We were very pleased that Rabbi Levin and Cantor David Stiskin (of Leningrad) were given permission to come to the United States and that they were so warmly received by the U.S. Jewish community,” Rabbi Israel Miller, head of the Conference, commented. “At the same time, we are concerned about a negative element which might blur the plight of Soviet Jewry.”

Rabbi Levin, before leaving yesterday for Montreal en route home, said there were 85 seminary-trained and ordained rabbis functioning in the Soviet Union. Rabbi Miller said that, according to the Conference’s information, there are three or perhaps four practicing, ordained rabbis for the 2.5 million Jews in European Russia.

If there are 82 others in central Asia or smaller communities, they may be practicing but not ordained or ordained but not practicing. Or they may be the rabbis of Oriental communities,” he said. “But this does not solve the problem of such communities as Kiev which has several hundred thousand Jews and no rabbis or Moscow which has 500,000 Jews and one rabbi.”

The Conference also replied to a statistical analysis, provided by the Soviet mission, on Russian Jews in higher education, science, research, technology and industrial management, which purports to indicate that Jews are proportionally well represented with respect to other elements of the Russian population in these fields.

“About Jews in these fields – this is not really the major problem of Jews in the Soviet Union.” Rabbi Miller said. “It falls into the category of ‘some of my best friends are Jews.’ Our major concern is suffocation of Jewish culture and religion, and therefore just bringing out statistics about how many Jews are in colleges and in the various fields does not respond to the major charge,” Rabbi Miller contended.


The Congress for Jewish Culture disputed a statement by Rabbi Levin that there was no official anti-Semitism in Russia and that Soviet Jews enjoyed the same rights as all other ethnic minorities there. The executive board of the Congress said in a statement today that “Jews have been blatantly excepted

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