Religion: Plot in Progress

As it has on almost every Sunday morning since last May, a sleek black limousine pulled away from the Soviet legation in Tel Aviv last week, threaded its way through the stony Judean hills to Jerusalem, and rolled to a stop before a wide white building with green onion domes. Out of the car and into the incense-filled Russian Orthodox Church filed Pavel Ivanovich Ershov, Soviet minister to Israel, and some of his top staff aides. The churchgoing Communists were adding some new wrinkles to an old plot they had inherited from the czars.

More than 100 years ago, a czarist agent,...

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