NEW YORK (Aug. 27)
Rabbi Menachem Openstein of Kuibyshev died Monday at the age of 84 and was buried yesterday in that Soviet city, leaving only three practicing rabbis throughout the Soviet Union, Rabbi Arthur Schneier of New York, said today. He said Rabbi Openstein had served the 40,000 Jews of Kuibyshev the past 40 years.
Rabbi Schneier, who met Rabbi Openstein during one of his frequent visits to the Soviet Union as president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, said he had been informed of the death by telephone. He said the dearth of rabbis and other religious functionaries was a major factor in the impairment of religious life among Soviet Jews.
Rabbi Schneier said that, based on the lack of replacement for rabbis in major Soviet cities, prospects for a new rabbi of Kuibyshev were bleak. He said that the Foundation, with the cooperation of the Soviet government and the Hungarian government, had made arrangements for several Soviet Jews to study for the rabbinate at the Rabbinic Seminary in Budapest but that it would be three years before they would be ordained and return to the USSR to take up pulpits. There is no rabbinical seminary in the Soviet Union.