Clergymen Appeal to Kennedy to Secure Matzoh-baking in Russia

Fifteen Cleveland clergymen representing the three major faiths–Catholic, Protestant and Jewish–appealed to President Kennedy today to urge the Soviet Union “officially” to permit Jews in the USSR to bake matzoth from the wheat which the Administration has agreed to let Russia buy in this country.

In a telegram to the President, the 15 signers stated: “In selling wheat to the Russians, America’s traditional concern for reducing human suffering would be made most clear by an official and urgent plea that the wheat not be used as an instrument of discrimination against a minority group. Specifically, the Soviet Government should make this wheat available as desired for use as matzoth, which are essential to Jewish Passover observance.

“For the past two years, the Russian Government has prohibited the manufacture and sale of matzoth, along with many more serious harassments of Soviet Jewry which have included the closing of synagogues, ‘show trials’ for economic offenses, special restrictions on educational and vocational opportunities, and a mounting campaign of terror and vilification in the press.

“We respectfully submit that American wheat should not become an instrument of official Soviet policy of persecuting the Jewish minority group for the seeming purpose of solving internal problems. Urging the Soviet Government to alter such policies would confirm the sincere desire of the United States to champion the worldwide cause of human rights.”

The signers included seven Protestant ministers; six rabbis; Msgr. Lawrence P. Cahill, president of St. John College; and the Rev. Vincent P. Haas, moderator of the Catholic Interracial Council of Greater Cleveland.

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