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Katz Charges USSR Impounded 20 Tons of Matzoth; Customs Fees Paid

April 13, 1964
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

More than 20 tons of matzoth intended for Soviet Jews during Passover last month lay undelivered and wasted in Moscow custom houses, B’nai B’rith said here today. The unleavened bread had been shipped by Jews in Western countries at a cost of $100, 000, including $20, 000 paid in customs duties to the Soviet Union, Label, A. Katz, president of B’nai B’rith, disclosed. B’nai B’rith also learned that parcels of matzoth sent to Jews in Kiev, Kishinev, Tashkent and Samarkand were not delivered, while matzoth shipped to Odessa by the Chief Rabbi of Denmark are “known to have been confiscated” by the Soviet authorities, Mr. Katz said.

Mr. Katz said that the matzoth which failed to get beyond Moscow’s customs houses were about half of an estimated 90, 000 pounds shipped to the Soviet Union “after Soviet officials had let it be Known that such shipments were authorized and presumably would be delivered. In view of what has happened in Moscow, it is not unlikely that undelivered parcels of matzoth are piled up in the customs offices of other Soviet cities, ” he added.

The B’nai B’rith leader said he had no estimate of how much of the matzoh had reached the tables of Soviet Jewish families. One slight indication, he said, came from a report published in London 10 days ago which quoted Chief Rabbi Yehuda Leib Levin, of Moscow, as saying that he had received 204 parcels of matzoth for distribution to members of his congregation. Mr. Katz said that 1,000 such parcels–about 10,000 pounds of matzoth -had been directed to the attention of Rabbi Levin. The bulk of the shipments, he said, had been sent by Jews in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Israel and elsewhere to individual Jewish families in the Soviet Union. The shipments in all, cost approximately $250,000, Mr. Katz said. USSR duty charges were about 45 cents on each pound of matzoh.

Mr. Katz also charged that the press campaign made Jews in Moscow fearful to claim the 6, 000 pounds of matzoth that were baked in the single rented facility the authorities allowed this year. The small bakery went into operation several weeks before Passover. The B’nai B’rith leader estimated that it had produced no more than 8,000 pounds of matzoth in all.

Mr. Katz noted also that the Soviet Union had carried on an “intimidating campaign” against Jews prior to Passover, so that many Soviet Jews who knew they had matzoh parcels shipped to them feared to claim or accept the packages.

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