One of Three Remaining Synagogues in Moscow Ordered Closed by Authorities
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One of Three Remaining Synagogues in Moscow Ordered Closed by Authorities

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The smallest of the three remaining synagogues in Moscow has been ordered closed by the authorities by Nov. 1, reliable Jewish sources here reported today. The sources said there was no immediate information on the official reason for the closing, but said the authorities were making it difficult for the worshipers to open another synagogue. The synagogue, which hold approximately 100 worshipers, is the Cherkizovoyo at 70 Lermontov St. in a suburb of Moscow.

It has not had a rabbi since the last one died several years ago. There are now six rabbis for the approximately 3 million Jews of the Soviet Union. The remaining Moscow houses of Jewish worship are the large Choral Synagogue and the small Marina Rosha, which holds 200-300 persons. The elderly rabbi of Marina Rosha, Natan Olevsky, died in 1964 in his 90s and has not been replaced.

Rabbi Arnold S. Turetsky of the Jackson Heights (N.Y.) Jewish Center, who visited both of the smaller synagogues on the 17th of Tamuz fast day last year and again this year, expressed sadness to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on learning of the impending shutdown of Cherkizovoyo. “I feel very bad,” he said, “because we had friends there. We really felt an intimacy.” In 1970, he said, the worshipers hugged and kissed him and the members of his student delegation; this year, however, they were “very depressed,” even more than was to be expected on a fast day. But Rabbi Turetsky said there was no indication that the worshipers knew their synagogue was doomed. When he asked them if they needed anything, he said, they replied: “Questions are for the seder. This is not Pesach.”


Jewish sources supplied further information today on the rejection of the appeal by Roiza Palatnik, the Odessa librarian sentenced to two years in prison for alleged anti-Soviet activities. The rejection was issued Sept. 23 in Kiev by the Supreme Court of the Ukrainian Republic. Before the decision, the prosecutor, a Mrs. Khrushch, demanded affirmation of the original sentence by the Odessa court. The defense attorney, Roman Braver, urged the prisoner’s release, claiming that Miss Palatnik had been tried improperly and that she should not have been accused of anti-Soviet activity for having in her possession a copy of the famous protest by 39 Moscow Jews against restrictions on Soviet Jewish life.

The document had been one of the chief pieces of evidence in the case against Miss Palatnik. Braver pointed out that most of the 39 signers had since gone to Israel legally, and those still in the USSR had written the Ukrainian High Court protesting the labeling of their appeal as a criminal document. The Kiev judge, surnamed Baslakh, upheld the Palatnik sentence. The 35-year-old prisoner was not in court to hear the decision; she is in prison in Odessa, expecting to be sent to a detention camp. She was sentenced June 24, but her two-year term dates from her arrest in December, 1970.

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