TEL AVIV (Aug. 31)
Plans to build a Jewish cultural center in Moscow are in the works, according to unconfirmed reports from the Soviet capital.
According to a Moscow publication called “Soviet Jewry,” a delegation headed by Edgar Bronfman and Simcha Dinitz is expected in Moscow sometime in the next few weeks, in connection with establishment of a Jewish cultural center there.
Bronfman is president of the World Jewish Congress. Dinitz, who is chairman of the World Zionist Organization-Jewish Agency Executive, just returned from a trip to Yugoslavia. (See related story.)
The Moscow publication, which Soviet Jewry activists in the United States have never heard of, was cited in a Copenhagen dispatch published Wednesday in the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz.
The Jewish cultural center would be the first of its kind in the Soviet Union since World War II, according to one former refusenik.
According to the Moscow magazine, construction of a center would cost millions of dollars, a sum Moscow Jews hope could be picked up by Western Jewish communities.
The magazine also reports that the visit of Bronfman and Dinitz will take place prior to Simchat Torah. On that holiday, thousands of Jews converge in front of Moscow’s main synagogue, the Choral Synagogue on Archipova Street.
MEETINGS WITH SHEVARDNADZE
In New York, WJC executive director Elan Steinberg confirmed that there would be “followup to discussions” Bronfman had with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze last May in Moscow. But he added that “at the momet, it would serve no purpose to go into specifics.”
Gregory Rosenshtein, a former refusenik who left the Soviet Union six weeks ago and is now living in an absorption center in Jerusalem, expressed misgivings about the center.
Speaking to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency while visiting New York, he said he was “not so happy” the center would be under the authority of Rabbi Arthur Shayevich.
Shayevich, who is chief rabbi of Moscow, is not highly regarded by Soviet Jewish activists, who cite his government employment and criticize deficiencies in his Jewish knowledge and his lack of involvement with them as a trusted colleague. Among refuseniks, he is largely shunned.
(JTA staff writer Susan Birnbaum in New York contributed to this report.)