BOSTON (Jun. 9)
Some 7,000 students and faculty at Boston area colleges have signed petitions to the Soviet Government protesting the denial of cultural and religious rights to Soviet Jews. Seven Harvard University deans are among signers urging that the USSR put an end to “the inequitable and discriminatory manner in which Soviet law is administered with respect to Soviet Jewry.”
The petitions were initiated by student members of the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations at five of the colleges but Rabbi Maurice L. Zigmond, Hillel’s New England regional director, said that the campaign has become interdenominational with students from other campus religious groups volunteering to collect signatures.
A booth set up in the corridor of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology building and manned by officers of MIT’s United Christian Fellowship, Technology Catholic Club and Hillel Foundation, brought in most of the 1,000 names that were signed at that school. Copies of the petitions are also being circulated in classrooms and fraternities at colleges in the Boston area.
At Harvard and Radcliffe, 2,500 persons–almost half of the undergraduate population–have joined in the statement declaring that “considerations of humanity and justice require the Soviet Government to end the manifest anti-Semitism and the denial to Soviet Jews of the basic institutions and facilities granted other religious and nationality groups within the Soviet Union.” Three thousand other signatures have been collected at Boston University and at Brandeis University in nearby Waltham.
The petitions, identical in their wording at each of the schools, asks the Soviet Government to: 1. Implement its stated policy of eliminating anti-Semitism in all areas of public life; 2. Make certain that the prosecution of economic crimes does not become “a vehicle for anti-Semitism”; 3. Halt anti-Jewish stereotyping and propaganda campaigns.
In urging the restoration of Jewish religious and nationality rights, the petitions specifically call for removing obstacles to the existence of synagogues, including their right to maintain a nationwide federation; to the production of prayer books and ritual articles; to the development of cultural institutions, the training of rabbis and the study of Yiddish, Hebrew and Jewish history and literature; to the publication of Yiddish books and newspapers, and to formal contacts with Jewish religious and cultural movements abroad. The students also distributed fact sheets detailing the discriminations imposed against Soviet Jews.