My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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Russ Church Interest Up

TASHKENT, USSR—Before coming here to Central Asia I visited a Baptist Church in Moscow and had the opportunity to talk with the head of the church. My interpreter was a young organist who has studied in Britain for six months and was going back for another six months.

I was told there are about half a million Baptists in the Soviet Union and the number is growing at a rate of 13 to 20 thousand a year.

I looked at this church congregation with great interest, for the church was packed. In all Russian Orthodox churches I have visited so far a great majority of worshipers have been middle-aged or older women, but in this Baptist Church there were young men and women. They seemed to take a great interest in the service and told me that the church was supported entirely by the congregation.

From the Baptist Church we drove to a synagogue where I talked with the chief rabbi. He gave me some information which I previously had obtained from one of the Soviet ministries and ended by asking me to tell the American people there is a great need for peace.

This emphasis on peace has been made over and over again to me by all kinds of people. The implication seems to be that the Russian people want peace but the American people want war. I don't know whether or not my assurances that we also are anxious for peace have fallen on deaf ears.

I returned to the hotel just in time for a recorded interview I had been requested to give to a Russian correspondent. I approached this interview with considerable trepidation, but I don't think it proved to be as formidable as I had feared.

I was only a few minutes late in greeting my guests, United Press correspondent Henry Shapiro, with his wife and daughter, and NBC correspondent and Mrs. Irving Levine.

We had a pleasant hour together at tea, and then a young Russian who had piloted my granddaughter, Kate Roosevelt, around on her trip here last year came to bring me some long-playing recordings for her because she had told him she was going to learn the Russian language.

He also brought for her a photo of himself and his wife and a box of her favorite candy in her favorite kind of box.

Kate seems to have left remarkably pleasant memories everywhere she went. One of her other admirers remembered that she admired the kind of cap worn by the women of Uzbekistan, and I believe he obtained one for her. So some good feeling was engendered by her visit.

That evening we went to a concert which was more like a vaudeville show. The singing wasn't very remarkable, but there was some good dancing.

The next day we went to see the new buildings of Moscow University on the outskirts of the city. They are almost as far away as the airport, but the transportation to that area by bus and subway is frequent. Six of the faculties are housed there, while six others are in old buildings downtown.

This university is set up quite differently from our universities, and the degrees are given in quite a different way. But I'll tell you about the educational setup here in greater detail later.

There are 120 elevators in the Moscow University buildings, making one wonder why it was necessary to build such high buildings when there was so much ground all around them. But from the top of them the view is magnificent.

Looking down, you see a park in one area with a statue of Lomonosov, the university's founder. There are some fine botanical gardens for use in studies of agriculture and science. Directly in front, as you look down, you see the dove of peace outlined in what looks like white rock.

I am constantly struck by the amount of emphasis that is put on peace here and wonder why that is done.

E.R.
PNews, NSJ, 20 September 1957