Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

American Correspondent Reports on Anti-jewish Campaign in Russia

December 3, 1959
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

In the last few months “the Soviet Union’s campaign against Jews and Judaism has intensified,” according to a report from Moscow in this week’s issue of Life magazine. The lengthy report, illustrated with photographs, was written by Life correspondent Patricia Blake. It says that, within recent months “all over the country synagogues have been raided and newspaper articles have appeared attacking Jews as ‘thieves’ and ‘enemies of socialism.'”

In all of Russia, Miss Blake reports, only 18 boys, who are students at a make-shift yeshiva conducted in one of Moscow’s three synagogues, are “permitted any education in the traditions of Judaism.” According to the writer, only 3,000 siddurim–Hebrew prayer books–have been printed in Russia since the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, “and only a few hundred were ever distributed.

The Life writer reports that Jews are not allowed to serve as officers in the army or as officials in the government. In Kiev, where there are 180,000 Jews, local authorities have turned the central synagogue into a public theater. Only one synagogue remains in Kiev, Miss Blake reports, and that one occupies an “old ramshackle building.” The Jews in Kiev, the writer reports, have no kosher butcher shop, and were forbidden to bake matzos last Passover. “Many people” who took a day off last Passover to celebrate the holiday were arrested, according to the report.

In spite of the persecutions, many Jews including young men in their twenties, told the Life correspondent that they “feel like Jews.” The correspondent reports that among Russian Jews she found a good deal of interest in Israel, and that she was told “maybe one day they will let us go to Israel.”

Recommended from JTA