WASHINGTON (Mar. 19)
The State Department today described as “all hypothetical at this point” whether an American rabbi will be appointed for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Department spokesman Charles Bray said he was “aware of possible interest” in the American Jewish community regarding the appointment of a rabbi there but added that he did not think the Department has taken-official cognizance of this interest.
Bray was questioned by newsmen after three clergymen said in New York yesterday that the Appeal for Conscience Foundation of which they are leaders had urged the State Department to give serious consideration to such an appointment. The three clergymen–the Rev. Donald R. Campion, editor-in-chief of the Jesuit weekly. America; the Rev. Harold A. Bosley, senior minister of Christ Church, United Methodist. New York; and Rabbi Arthur Schneier, of the Park East Synagogue, New York–recently returned from a tour of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
Rabbi Schneier, Foundation president, said the three had been told last week by a State Department official that “no impediment” should bar a rabbi from being stationed at the Embassy in Moscow. Under the Soviet-American agreement of 1933 that established diplomatic relations between the two governments, the United States has a right to station chaplains at its Embassy in Moscow. Roman, Catholic and Protestant chaplains are already stationed there.
Bray said under questioning that he had been “aware” of the sentiment for the stationing of a rabbi in Moscow prior to the published report of the statement by three clergymen. He said he did not believe personnel of the Jewish faith in Moscow had asked for a rabbi.
The chaplains at the Embassy have no official connection with the U.S. government, Bray said. The U.S. government’s role is limited to aiding in arrangements for the clergymen in Moscow such as providing facilities at which religious services may be conducted. He said the same considerations would be given to a rabbi who would minister to the needs of Americans and other foreigners in the Jewish community in Moscow. He emphasized that the rabbi, if he were stationed there, would not serve Soviet Jews.