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New Congregation in Moscow Gives Soviet Jews a Non-orthodox Option

A sign of the growing tolerance of religion in the Soviet Union is the recent establishment in Moscow of the first Progressive Jewish congregation in that country.

It is called Congregation Hineni and was established two months ago under the aegis of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, which represents Reform, Liberal and Reconstructionist Jewish congregations around the world.

Hineni presently has only 150 members and meets in an apartment that cannot hold more than 30 people. That necessitates a rotation system, which permits a member to attend services only once every three or four weeks.

But the congregation plans to acquire more commodious quarters as soon as the Soviet Ministry of Religious Affairs formally approves its application for recognition.

Hineni already has a rabbi, Robert Feinberg, a Russian-speaking American from Norfolk, Va., who will serve from Aug. 1 to July 31, 1991.

According to the World Union, Soviet Jews will now have the same options as Jews in the West to choose how and where they will worship.

The famous Choral Synagogue in Moscow and the 36 institutions run by the Hasidic Lubavitch movement all over the Soviet Union separate the sexes for prayer. At Hineni, for the first time, Soviet Jewish men and women can worship together.

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