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Thousands of Israelis Fast in Protest Against Arrests in Rumania

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Many thousands of Jews in Israel observed a day of fast yesterday in response to a call by the Chief Rabbinate to demonstrate their solidarity with the Zionist and Jewish communal leaders arrested and imprisoned in Rumania. They joined some 60 former leaders of Rumanian Jewry, now in Israel, who began an “unlimited” hunger strike intended to arouse the conscience of the world to the fate of Rumanian Jewish, leaders. (See Premier Sharett’s speech an Page 2.)

The hunger strike began after a mass prayer session in the Great Synagogue of Tel Aviv where the strikers will maintain their vigil day and night. Thousands of persons crowded into the synagogue and additional thousands assembled outside to pray and, afterwards, to hear Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Iser J. Unterman and Jewish Agency chairman Berl Locker denounce the Rumanian authorities’ treatment of the Jewish leaders as “cruel persecution. “

Rabbi Unterman told his listeners that the arrested men and women in Rumania were suffering for their loyalty to Jewry and Zion. Mr. Locker said the hunger strike was a desperate call to the world to act against the persecutions which bring no benefit to Rumania and which are aimed at persons who are no threat to the regime.

During the services in the synagogue Israeli Communists distributed pamphlets defending the Rumanian authorities and attacking those “who are trying to undermine relations between Israel and the Rumanian People’s Republic.” Huge posters in the streets called on all citizens to keep in mind the sufferings of the Rumanian Jewish leaders.

The hunger strike began only after each of the 60 participants was given a medical examination. Arrangements have been made for them to sleep in the synagogue and to remain there at all times. A medical team will be kept on the spot to give any aid which may be required.

The strikers include Dr. Shmuel Kochavi, ex-president of the Rumanian Zionist Federation; Idov Cohen, a member of the Israel Parliament; Sammi Singer, onetime member of the Rumanian Parliament; Rabbi A. Burstein, former president of the Rumanian Mizrachi; and Dr. Michael Landau, ex-member of the Rumanian Parliament.

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