Passover Starts Tonight; Celebration Marred by Soviet Discriminations
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Passover Starts Tonight; Celebration Marred by Soviet Discriminations

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Jews throughout the United States-and throughout the rest of the free world-will usher in Passover tomorrow night under the shadow of increased anti-Jewish propaganda in the Soviet Union and the denial of matzoth to religious Jews there, including non-delivery of matzoh parcels sent by Jews from abroad.

At the same time, Passover will be marked in American Jewish homes with joy over the progress in Israel and the normal development of Jewish life in all democratic countries. Congregational seders will be held in many synagogue centers, while family seders will be held in thousands of homes with the chanting of the Haggadah which tells the story of the deliverance of the ancient Hebrew from bondage in Egypt.

Joseph Meyerhoff, general chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, said in a Passover message that tens of thousands of new immigrants in Israel have been aided in preparing for their Passover celebration by the provision of matzoth, other Passover foods, and cash grants for the purchase of the holiday necessities, arranged ahead of time by the United Jewish Appeal.

Mr. Meyerhoff announced that, in addition to special Passover aid provided other immigrants in Israel, special arrangements had been made by the Jewish Agency, a UJA beneficiary, to supply Passover needs to immigrants arriving in Israel on the very eve of Passover. Among the celebrants in Israel, he said, will be 10,000 youngsters in Jewish children’s home; and 51,000 patients and clients of Malben, a Joint Distribution Committee program aiding the sick, aged and handicapped among Israel’s immigrants. JDC is also a major UJA beneficiary.


Mr. Meyerhoff announced that JDC’s shipments of Passover foods to Europe this year were the largest ever sent. These shipments, he said, included 237,000 pounds of matzoth, plus 33,700 pounds of matzoh meal and 25,000 bottles of sacramental wine. Of the vast shipments of matzoth, 150,000 pounds went to France, to meet the needs of the large number of immigrants resettled there or in transit from North African countries. Jews in other countries among those aided to celebrate Passover properly included communities in Albania, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Yugoslavia. The JDC has made special grants to Jews on relief rolls in North African countries.

Special Passover arrangements have also been made for newly arrived Jewish refugees in New York, aided by the New York Association for New Americans; for 10,000 youths throughout the world, including Israel, in training centers and schools conducted by ORT; and for Jewish migrants in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Australia and other free countries aided by United Hias Service. All of these agencies benefit from the UJA drives which must now be stepped up, Mr. Meyerhoff pointed out.

Jewish servicemen and women and their families, as well as American Jews serving with the Peace Corps in Pakistan, Liberia and Ethiopia, and Jewish personnel employed by the State Department in Thailand, Vietnam and India, have been assured of adequate Passover facilities by the special holiday program of the National Jewish Welfare Board. About 100,000 Jewish GIs on duty with American military forces at home and abroad have been supplied by the JWB with Haggadahs, and otherwise assured of full Passover facilities. Jewish chaplains have been assigned to many overseas, as well as domestic, military and naval installations.

United Hias Service, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, is "especially mindful" at this time of the fact that "the story of Jewish exodus is as current today as it was in Biblical times, " Murray I, Gurfein, president of the organization, pointed cut in a special Passover message. Noting the organization’s services since 1884, he emphasized that: "Jewish men, women and children from Eastern Europe, North Africa and Egypt are caught up in today’s wave of migration, and our agency is finding havens and homes for them in free countries of the Western world."

Dr. Dewey D. Stone, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Inc., expressed confidence in his Passover message that the sense of "being our brother’s keeper" would continue to spur American Jewry toward "supreme efforts to meet the needs of those who are looking to us for the means of building for themselves and their families a new life of freedom and dignity." He stressed that "in the United Jewish Appeal, American Jewry has created one of the most remarkable and the most effective instrumentalities for the realization of that tradition, extending the words ‘may he who is hungry come and eat’ beyond the geographical limitations of their homes and communities to their brothers overseas."

Abraham A. Feinberg, president of the Israel Bond Organization, declared that the Passover season faces American Jewry with a special "historic challenge. " By continuing the flow of Israel bond dollars at a high level, " he stated, "We can continue to perform an historic service to Israel’s future and to the cause of freedom. This Passover season is an appropriate time to resolve that we do our full part."


Morris B. Abram, president of the American Jewish Committee, devoted his Passover message chiefly to the discriminations against Jews in the Soviet Union. Emphasizing that "the situation of the Jews in the USSR is continuing to worsen, " he pointed to the fact that the Jewish faith there "is kept in an atomized condition as part of the campaign of cultural and religious genocide. " He referred particularly to the anti-matzoh restrictions imposed upon Soviet Jews, and said that this "is but another tactic in its anti-Semitic maneuvers. With all the administrative twists and barriers, the fact remains that countless Jews in Russia will be deprived of this ancient symbol during the eight days of the holiday."

On behalf of the American Jewish Congress, Rabbi Joachim Prinz, president, issued a Passover message in which he linked three of the most vital contemporary issues of concern to the American Jewish community during this year’s festival. These, he said, are: Israel’s security and its drives toward international peace and further domestic progress, the situation of the Jews in the USSR, and the American Jew’s active role in the Negro drive toward "a full measure of equality."

Passover was seen as "a challenge to American Jewry, to free itself from the shackles of apathy and inaction in the face of cultural deterioration" in a statement issued on behalf of the American Zionist Council by Dr. Max Nussbaum, chairman, and Nathaniel S. Rothen-berg, chairman of the Council’s administrative committee. The American Zionist Council is the central coordinating body of all Zionist groups in the United States. The two AZC leaders emphasized the need for a "unified and strengthened Zionist movement, with an American-oriented program."


Three thousand American congregations-Orthodox, Conservative and Reform-were in receipt today of a special Passover message from Rabbi Uri Miller, president of the Synagogue Council of America, the national coordinating agency for the rabbinic and congregational organizations of all three branches of religious Judaism in this country.

Rabbi Miller laid particular stress on the need to guard against divisive forces within and without the Jewish community. He emphasized the need for "inner unity" as an essential factor toward overcoming "competing, fragmentizing, repetitious and, often, misleading postures being projected in the name of Jews and Judaism."

At the same time, he called for world leadership "to halt the now clear Soviet policy of spiritual and cultural annihilation of Judaism as a faith in the Soviet Union." He noted that the problem of Russian Jewry "is a perfect example of how tyranny would destroy a great part of our people, religiously and culturally, " calling for vigilance against "despair and spiritual annihilation" wherever anti-Jewish oppressions might arise.

Passover greetings on behalf of the more than 300,000 members of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, were issued by Hadassah’s national president, Mrs. Siegfried Kramarsky, Her message, too, emphasized the situation of the Jews in the USSR, "isolated from their fellow Jews" around the world and "deprived of the means of celebrating Passover in accordance with Jewish tradition. " The Hadassah leader also pointed out that Passover is "a time to commit ourselves anew to helping Israel absorb the Immigrants from many lands, who come to the Jewish State to be citizens of a democracy."

Similar messages were issued by the Zionist Organization of America, B’nai Zion, and leaders of all Rabbinical organizations in this country.

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