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Cardinal Cushing Speaks in Synagogue; Appeals to Moscow on Jewish Rights

December 28, 1966
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Richard Cardinal Cushing, Catholic Archbishop of Boston and one of America’s leading churchmen, appealed to the Soviet Government to permit the Jews in the Soviet Union to practice their religion without any restrictions. He emphasized that Jewish religion and culture are being suppressed in the Soviet Union.

Cardinal Cushing spoke at a meeting held at Temple Chabei Shalom, in Brookline, Mass., under the auspices of the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry. Declaring that it is fitting for Christian neighbors to join with their Jewish friends “in seeking the freedom of the oppressed Jewish community in the Soviet Union,” he said:

“Wherever freedom is deprived, all of us are deprived in some measure; wherever the expression of man’s religious spirit is forcefully curtailed, there all religion suffers. For two decades we have witnessed the slow and steady erosion of the religious and cultural institutions that should be at the service of millions of Jews in the U.S.S.R., and this process has been initiated and encouraged by official Soviet policy, aimed at the death of the traditional Jewish community in that land.

“Many national and ethnic groups have cultural and religious traditions closely intertwined; none more so than the children of Abraham so that an assault on one becomes, in effect, an assault on the other. The second largest Jewish community in the world is within the borders of the Soviet Union; it consists of a people whose cultural achievements in times past were a wonder to the world, a people, too, whose deep spiritual qualities were widely manifest and universally admired.”


Emphasizing that one repressive law after another in the Soviet Union has closed Jewish theaters, suppressed schools, forbidden the publication of books, and attacked the Jewish culture at its very roots, and that Jewish houses of worship have been closed, ritual necessities denied, and the training of new rabbis made impossible, Cardinal Cushing declared:

“Three million Jews have been suffering and struggling against odds that are overwhelming. But Judaism did not die. In spite of all that has happened, evidence appears again and again that, even in the most difficult circumstances, faith and hope have not merely survived but have shown increased vigor and enduring life. The young people, so long alienated from religion by their environment, have turned again in impressive numbers to the spiritual origins of their fathers. As so often in the history of man’s faith in God, the persecutions of the world have given new strength to religious commitment, new intensity to humanity’s deepest yearnings.

“In the case of the Soviet Union, we raise our voices today asking them only to be faithful to what is their own declared policy for the peoples of their country. For decades they have boasted that there is no persecution of religion in their land: let them be true merely to what they have claimed for themselves. They acknowledge also that they recognize the just claims of nationalities to their own cultural life in the Soviet state. They have, however, made Jews the exception to the rule in these last years.

“So here again we ask of them no more than what they have claimed for themselves. Surely, this is not an extravagant appeal, nor one that can be cast aside by reasons of politics or ideology. The Soviet state has begun to show some leniency in small things; we urge them in the name of God and humanity to extend it to its widest limits.”

Speaking from the same platform on the Soviet policy against Jewish culture and religion were also Dr. Forrest L. Knapp, general secretary of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, and Rabbi Manuel Saltzman, chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis.

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