The rising generation of Jews in Russia is in serious danger of growing into a mass of atheists, and the entire structure of Judaism in the Soviet realms is being “perilously threatened”, as a result of the persecution of the Jewish faith being waged by the Boviet government. This is the substance of a sixteen page statement published today by the Joint Foreign Committee of British Jews in reply to one by the Soviet government explaining its attitude to the Jewish religion.
Pious Jews, the Joint Foreign Committee declares, have been compelled to organize secret classes to instruct their children in the “tenets of their ancestral faith”. Many have been sent to prison for nothing more than imparting to their children this religious instruction.
The infractions against religious liberty are comparable to the edicts of the Spanish inquisition, the statement continues. Reviewing such incidents as the invasion of the synagogues by agents of the Soviet on Yom Kippur, the “anti-God Campaign” carried on with the alleged connivance of the government, the Committee concludes that in the face of such occurrences, it is “impossible to place any credence in the assurance of the Soviet Commissariat that any real liberty of conscience exists in Russia today”.
The statement also cites the burlesquing of the Jewish high holidays by substituting carnivals and so-called “scientific propagandizing”. It denies vigorously the contention of the Soviet that the mass of Jews of Russia approve the “atheistical” policy of the Bolshevists, and affirms that the great body of Russian Jews are as “averse to their theology as they are to their economics.” “There are some Jewish renegades as there are some Christian renegades, out their number is comparatively small”, it is contended.
The correspondence dealing with the religious situation was carried on between Lucien Wolf, secretary of the Joint Foreign Committee and political representative of the Jewish Board of Deputies, and the assistant official agent of the Russian government in London.
Orthodox rabbis of Eastern Europe last summer ordained a fast day throughout Jewry as a protest to the Soviet’s battle against Judaism, the statement recalls. Following this, the Soviet government forwarded a statement to the Jewish Board of Deputies in which the claim was made that the Russian religious decree had been helpful rather than harmful to the Jews.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.