NEW YORK (Jul. 2)
The Soviet Embassy in Washington has sent a letter to Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R. NY) saying that Soviet authorities never planned to demolish the Ashkenazi Synagogue in the Georgian Republic of Tbilisi, but are actually repairing the building.
D’Amato and a group of Congressmen, the Los Angeles based Simon Wiesenthal Center and other Jewish groups have protested the announced plans to demolish one of the city’s two synagogues. About 20,000 Jews live in the Tbilisi area.
The original reason given for the demolition was “urban renewal” and plans for an outdoor plaza on the site of the synagogue were discussed.
Soviet Counselor Vadim Kuznetsov, in the letter sent June 20, said “I would like to point out that you have obviously been misinformed regarding the Ashkenazi Synagogue in Tbilisi. According to information provided by the Foreign Ministry of the Georgian SSR, there have never been plans to demolish the above synagogue. On the contrary, work is in process to repair the structure.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, said this development is another example of Western pressure influencing the Kremlin’s policy on Soviet Jewry.