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Interfaith Group Urges Appointment of Religious Chapels in U.S. Embassy in Moscow

An interfaith organization of Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Greek Orthodox leaders disclosed today at a press conference, that it had urged the State Department to appoint a rabbi for the United States Embassy in Moscow.

The rabbi, along with the Roman Catholic and Protestant chaplains already there, would minister to the Jews in the rapidly growing American colony in Moscow, which includes the diplomatic corps, businessmen, scientists, journalists and students.

The press conference was held at the Regency Hotel by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation. Present were Rabbi Arthur Schneier, president of the Foundation and Rabbi of Park East Synagogue; the Rev. Dr. Harold A. Bosley, senior minister of Christ Church United Methodist, N.Y.; and the Rev. Donald R. Campion, editor-in-chief of the Jesuit weekly, America.

All three clergymen returned recently from an 11-day visit with church and synagogue officials in Moscow, Leningrad and Vilna.

Rabbi Schneier said that in the near future, at least 200 American Jews would be living in the Soviet capital city, that a rabbi to serve them was an “unmet need,” and that many non-Jews, as well as Jews in Moscow favored the naming of a rabbi or Jewish chaplain. Never before, he pointed out, has a future Jewish-American “presence” in Moscow looked so promising. “Because of the present detente,” he added, “there has been an increase in the number of Americans residing in Moscow, many of them Jews.

In a meeting with Pyotr V. Makartsev, Deputy Chairman of the Council on Religious Affairs USSR, Council of Ministers, the delegation expressed its “sense of revulsion by Americans of all faiths to the ‘diploma tax’ affecting those who wish to emigrate,” the three clergymen asserted.

“We conveyed to Mr. Makartsev, and through him to the Soviet government our conviction that the further enforcement of this law can only hinder the improvement of the political and economic relations between our countries,” stated Dr. Bosley.

They pointed out that the Jackson/Mills/Vanik amendment is an accurate barometer of the mood in the United States, a country of immigrants, who are particularly committed to the freedom of movement of every individual.

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