LONDON (Feb. 23)
The 75th birthday of Rabbi Yehuda Levin of Moscow’s Central Synagogue was observed today with many rabbinical leaders from various parts of the world attending, it was reported here. Apparently only two American rabbis were present. They were Arthur Schneier of New York, who brought several gifts–including one from Mayor John V. Lindsay, and David Hollander of the Bronx. Rabbi Pinhas Teitz of Elizabeth, N.J., who had received a visa, did not leave the U.S. (He could not be reached for comments by JTA in New York.)
“I would have liked with all my heart to come and congratulate you personally but I have been prevented from this by Soviet authorities who have not granted me a visa.” Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Itzhak Nissim cabled Rabbi Levin. Rabbi Nissim was one of several spiritual leaders, including Chief Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits of Britain, who were invited but did not receive visas.
Rabbi Nissim said today that despite the receipt of an invitation by the chairman of the Central Synagogue, he was not admitted because of a “fear that Jewish feeling in the Soviet Union would have erupted despite the walls of iron set up around it.” He called the Moscow Jewish community a “show window” designed to conceal the real condition of Soviet Jewry.
Rabbi Schneier reportedly received a visa before getting the invitation. Chief Rabbi Jacob Kaplan of France, Chief Rabbi emeritus Israel Brodie of the British Commonwealth, and Isser Untermann, Israel’s Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi did not accept the bids.
More than a thousand Jews attended a Sabbath service in the overflowing 90-year-old Central Synagogue yesterday. Among the participants were Jews from Soviet Georgia and Armenia and from beyond the Urals. Rabbi Levin voiced gratitude to the Soviet Government for delivering the Jewish community from the “barbarians” (Nazis).