TEL AVIV (Apr. 24)
The chief rabbis of Tel Aviv, Haifa and Rehovot are to be part of an international delegation of rabbis invited to visit the Soviet Union next week.
The delegation, which has been invited by the Soviet minister for religious affairs, will be headed by Romanian Chief Rabbi Moshe Rosen.
Other participants include French Chief Rabbi Joseph Sitruk; Rabbi Arthur Schneier, senior rabbi of New York’s Park East Synagogue and president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation; and Chief Rabbis Yisrael Lau of Tel Aviv, Shear Yashuv Cohen of Haifa and Simcha Kook of Rehovot. Rabbi Norman Lamm, president of Yeshiva University in New York, may also participate.
The rabbis will visit Moscow, Leningrad and Kiev from May 1 to 9. They will conduct services at Moscow’s Choral Synagogue on Saturday morning, May 6, and plan to meet with high-level government officials.
Cohen told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that he and his colleagues would be trying to establish a working relationship with the rabbis of the Soviet Union, with the possibility of sending U.S. and Israeli rabbis to Russia. The link would be a purely religious one, he said.
Cohen said he was aware that there were differences of approach and degree of observance between the Israeli rabbis and their colleagues in the Soviet Union, but he said that this could be overcome.
“The policy of glasnost (openness) presents an unprecedented opening to revive Jewish religious life in the Soviet Union,” Schneier said in New York.
“When the fledgling American Jewish community entered its period of greatest population growth following the Kishinev pogrom of 1903, it was East European Jewry — and particularly the Jews of Russia — who supplied rabbis, scholars, religious functionaries, teachers,” he said.
“Now we have the opportunity to repay that great debt by making available the resources that the Jews of the USSR want and need, so that they may study, understand and practice their Jewish heritage.”