Jewish Religious Classes in Moscow Disbanded

All the privately run religious classes in Moscow have been forced to shut down because of KGB harassment, it was reported here today by the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry (GNYCSJ). This means in fact that there is no study of religion in the largest city in the Soviet Union, the GNYCSJ said. The “official” Moscow yeshiva contains 10 government picked students and is presumably not affected by this crackdown.

The Jews are the only Soviet minority who are denied their own school system, the GNYCSJ noted. The classes that were closed were led by a number of self-educated teachers whose students convened in private homes to study bible, talmud and Jewish history. They frequently gathered to celebrate Shabbat and Jewish holidays communally. Among the teachers of these groups was Eliyahu Essas, Yuli Kosharovsky, Ze’ev Shachnovsky and Lev Gorodetzky.

Uniformed KGB officers also physically disbanded a privately organized Hebrew kindergarten whose students were four and five years old, according to the GNYCSJ. The crackdown on the teachers and the Jewish religious revival began with the arrest in November of Viktor Brailovsky, editor of the “Jews in the USSR.”

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