Los Angeles Clergymen Appeal to Khrushchev for Equality for Jews

A group of 25 leading Los Angeles clergymen have addressed an urgent appeal to Soviet Premier Khrushchev to “use your great influence to terminate the discrimination against Jews in the Soviet Union.”

The signers of the appeal included Bishop Gerald Kennedy of the Methodist Church, Dr. E.E. Colwell, president of the Southern California School of Theology, Dr. Carl W. Segerhammar, president of the Pacific-Southwest Synod of the Lutheran Church of America, Dr. Carroll L. Shuster, executive secretary of the Synod of California of the Southern Area of the United Presbyterian Church, Dr. F.C. Weirr, general secretary of the Southern California Council of Churches, and Rabbi Samson H. Levey, professor of rabbinics at the Hebrew Union College.

The letter noted that the Soviet Union has repeatedly called itself a “defender and protector of human dignity and equality” and then added that “while most faiths are permitted hare necessities, such as requisites for worship, sacred literature, theological seminaries and central bodies, their activities are sternly circumscribed.” The letter said members of all faiths “suffer harassment” but none of the major religions “have been subjected to the extraordinary disabilities inflicted on Judaism and its followers.”

Urging that the Soviet Government conform its practices in regard to Jews with its declared policy of equality for all groups, the letter called on the Soviet authorities to set free imprisoned synagogue leaders, rescind the ban on matzoth baking, make available ritual articles and Jewish prayerbooks, permit Yiddish schools and theaters to function again and allow Yiddish books and newspapers to be published.

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