Milwaukee Jewish and Non-jewish Leaders Appeal to Khrushchev on Jews

An appeal by 16 Jewish and non-Jewish religious, educational, political and lay religious leaders of Milwaukee to Premier Khrushchev, urging action to eliminate anti-Jewish discrimination in the Soviet Union, has been sent to the Soviet Ambassador to the United States for transmittal to Moscow. One of the signers was Mayor Henry W. Maier.

(News reaching New York today said that the building of the last synagogue in Lemberg, Soviet Ukraine, which was shut down a few weeks ago, has been taken over by the municipality for conversion into a sports club.)

The letter declared that “by deeds alone can your Government confirm that the Soviet Union in truth upholds the rights of minorities and the equal dignity of man.” It then cited the fact that “legally constituted Jewish congregations” were isolated from each other and “forbidden to organize a central group” or to have contact with Jewish religious groups in other countries. It also charged that since June 1961, synagogue presidents in six cities were arbitrarily removed from office and Jewish communal leaders in Leningrad and Moscow were sentenced to prison for the “alleged crime” of meeting foreign visitors in their synagogues.

Scores of synagogues have been closed by the government, the letter said, and for more than a generation, rabbinical seminaries have been banned except for one in Moscow with a maximum enrollment of 20 students which was reduced to four in 1962. The letter cited the wiping out of the once-flourishing Yiddish press, publications and theaters, summing up the conditions as conjuring up “memories of the anti-Semitic Stalin regime, which you yourself have denounced.”

Signing the letter, in addition to the Mayor, were the following: Donald H. V. Hallock, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee; Rev. Milan D. Bkrich, President of the Eastern Orthodox Clergy of Wisconsin; J. M. Klotsche, Provost of the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee; E. C. Pommerening, executive secretary of Lutheran Men in America; Rabbi Louis J. Swichkow, President of the Wisconsin Council of Rabbis; Rev. L. S. Beauchamp, President of the Wisconsin Baptist State Convention.

Also, Father R.A. Parr, director of the Milwaukee Archdiocesan Legion of Decency Committee; Father William F. Kelley, President of Marquette University; Rev. J.J. Luikens, President of the Milwaukee Ministerial Association; Maurice H. Terry, executive director of the National Conference of Christians and Jews; and Mrs Charlotte W. Teweles, chairman of the Milwaukee chapter of the American Jewish Committee.

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