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Jewish Leaders in Italy Appeal for Full Rights for Soviet Jews

A committee of five Italian Jewish leaders issued an appeal to all Jews and friends of Jews in Italy to make known to the new Soviet Ambassador to Italy their concern over the situation of Russian Jewry.

The committee was made up of Astorre Mayer, president of the Standing Conference of European Jewish Communities; Judge Sergio Piperno, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities; Mario Stock, president of the Trieste Jewish Community; Prof, Gianfranco Tedeschi, president of the Rome Jewish Community; and Bruno Zevi. They outlined a letter for that purpose which they urged should be sent also to the Italian Communist party secretary.

The draft letter expresses best wishes to the new envoy for a successful tour of duty in Rome. The communication then expresses anxiety and pain over the fact that Russian Jews are still denied the rights of which Stalin “arbitrarily deprived them” and which are now enjoyed by all nationalities which were also “persecuted by Stalin.”

“We request the authorities to put an end to the closing down of synagogues, to authorize a central representative organ of the Jewish religion–just as other religions have–to reinstitute schools and cultural institutes and to encourage Jewish parents to educate their children in their mother tongue and in their cultural and national tradition, ” the letter continues. It also urges Soviet officials “to permit the re-union of Jewish families” separated by the Nazi holocaust.

“The contribution in blood that Soviet Jews gave to the Soviet state, the martyrdom of millions massacred by the Nazis, their contributions to their host countries and so also to the Soviet Union, and in particular to its scientific and technological progress, fully authorize us to request emphatically that the school of thought represented by Judaism be allowed to continue to live in the Soviet Union, ” the letter adds.

The letter acknowledged “the condemnation of anti-Semitism” by Soviet Premier Kosygin and the article in Pravda, the Communist party organ, on September 5, 1965, similarly denouncing anti-Semitism. The letter expressed gratitude “for the permission to bake matzoh” in some Soviet cities this spring but stressed that “much more fundamental, serious and continuous steps must be taken to give justice to a nation which has every right to it. “

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