NEW YORK (Oct. 28)
More than 2,500 leading New York Jews, representing 26 major national and local Jewish organizations, marched tonight in silent procession to the headquarters of the Soviet Mission to the United Nations to present a list of grievances against the treatment of Jews in the Soviet Union.
The march was sponsored by the New York Conference on Soviet Jewry, comprised of all major Jewish organizations. The marchers carried lighted candles on their way to the Soviet headquarters from Hunter College where they held a conference at which they demanded an end to the “scorn, discrimination and oppression” suffered by Jews in the USSR. The conference was addressed, among others, by Sen. Kenneth B. Keating, New York Republican, and Robert F. Kennedy, former U. S. Attorney General who is now running as candidate to Senate on the Democratic ticket in New York.
The delegates unanimously adopted at the meeting “a summons to action in behalf of our fellow Jews entrapped in the vast and terrifying Soviet zone of silence.” The immediate goals cited in the resolution were “to prod the conscience of the Soviet oppressors; to focus awareness on the Soviet pattern of anti-Jewish injustice; to alert the new leaders who have assumed power in the Soviet that oppression of Jews shall not be passed over by us in silence; and to persuade our own government to use its mighty prestige and influence to urge the Soviet leadership that elementary justice and rights be granted to Soviet Jewry.
The resolution also proposed six specific actions. These included a “great community rally” next summer in Madison Square Garden to protest Soviet treatment of its Jews, an educational campaign by Jewish institutions, schools, teachers, and civic leaders to inform the general community about the plight of Soviet Jews, and neighborhood meetings and rallies throughout the metropolitan area.
Other actions proposed were a publications and information program, letters and telegrams to the President, the Secretary of State, members of Congress and others “so that Washington may hear our cries in behalf of those whose mouths are stopped.” and picketing of strategic buildings and offices and events asserting the nature and the validity of our demands.”
PETITION SOVIET GOVERNMENT TO REMOVE EXISTING DISCRIMINATIONS
The glass-enclosed candles carried by the marchers, known as “yahrzeit candles” are lighted by Jews in memory of the dead but a delegation spokesman said the candles were carried “in the hope of rekindling Jewish cultural and religious life in the Soviet Union.” The petition brought to the Soviet Mission called on the Soviet Government to:
1. Eradicate anti-Semitism by a vigorous educational effort by Government and Party.
2. Permit the free functioning of synagogues and private prayer meetings.
3. Remove hindrances to the observance of such sacred rites as religious burial and circumcision.
4. Make possible the production and distribution of religious articles such as prayer-shawls and Jewish calendars.
5. Restore all rights and facilities for the production and distribution of matzohs and kosher food.
6. Furnish facilities for the publication of Hebrew Bibles, prayerbooks and other religious texts in necessary quantities.
7. Permit the organization of a nationwide federation of synagogues.
8. Sanction the right of such a federation to associate with organizations.
9. Permit Jews to make religious pilgrimages to the Holy Places in Israel.
10. Make it possible for all qualified applicants to attend the Moscow Yeshiva, to provide facilities for the establishment of additional seminaries as needed and to enable rabbinical students to study at seminaries abroad.
11. Provide schools and other facilities for the study of Yiddish and Hebrew, and of Jewish history, literature and culture. Permit Jewish writers, artists and other intellectuals to create their own institutions for the encouragement of Jewish cultural and artistic life,
12. Re-establish a Yiddish publishing house, and to publish books in Yiddish by classical and contemporary Jewish writers;
13. Re-establish Yiddish State theaters in major centers of Jewish population and to publish Yiddish language newspapers with national circulations.
14. Eliminate discrimination against Jews in all areas of Soviet public life.
15. End all propaganda campaigns which use anti-Semitic stereotypes, implied or overt.
16. Halt the discriminatory application of maximum penalties, including the death sentence, against Jews for alleged economic crimes.
17. Make it possible on humanitarian grounds for Soviet Jews who are members of families separate as a result of the Nazi holocaust to be reunited with their relatives abroad.
Represented in the Conference are local affiliates of the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, the American Trade Union Council for Histadrut, the American Zionist Council, the B’nai B’rith Metro Council, the Brooklyn Jewish Community Council, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Farband Labor Sionist Order, Hadassah, the Jewish Labor Committee, the Jewish War Veterans, the Religious Zionists of America.
Also, the National Council of Jewish Women, the National Council of Young Israel, the Jewish Welfare Board, the New York Board of Rabbis, the Rabbinical Assembly of America, the Rabbinical Council of America, the Synagogue Council of America, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the United Synagogue of America, and the Zionist Organization of America.