Orthodox Jewish organizations in the United States yesterday were preparing to take steps in an effort to aid 16 religious Jews in Soviet Russia, now in the hands of the GPU, Russian secret police.
According to a letter received recently by the Chief Rabbi of Vilno, Chaim Ozer Grodzienski, from one of the Jewish communities in Soviet Russia, on which an appeal to orthodox Jews here is based, a group of religious Jews, including three aged rabbis, ten rabbinical students and three Jewish laymen, were seized by the secret police on the charge that they were planning to leave the Soviet Union illegally. The normal punishment for this offense is six months imprisonment, but the sixteen were sentenced to three years imprisonment at hard labor. After being kept in Batum, Georgia, for some time, the entire group has now been sent to Tashkent, Soviet Turkestan, to serve their sentence, according to the report.
Rabbi Grodzienski and the Chief Rabbi of Palestine, A. I. Ha’cohen Kook, appealed to Orthodox American Jewry to save “these men of the Torah from their dreaded exile.”