Columbia U Torchlight Parade, Teach-in, Call for Freedom for Jews in USSR
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Columbia U Torchlight Parade, Teach-in, Call for Freedom for Jews in USSR

The sound of the shofar and the kindling of menorahs marked the start here this evening of an interfaith torchlight procession on behalf of freedom for Soviet Jewry. The march, joined by more than 2,500 Columbia University students of all faiths, was sponsored by the Committee on Soviet Jewry, an independent group of Jewish and non-Jewish students at Columbia’s undergraduate and graduate schools.

The entire campus was made available by the university for the demonstration, which was followed by a teach-in at McMillan Theater where a capacity audience heard a group of distinguished authors and scholars discuss various aspects of the life of Jews in Soviet Russia. In addition to a large contingent of Columbia faculty, the procession and teach-in were attended by Congressman William Fitts Ryan and Deputy Mayor Robert Sweet.

The teach-in was described as the first of its kind on a major American campus. It was joined by the prize-winning author, Elie Wiesel; Irving Howe, writer and editor of Dissent; Dr. Abraham J. Heschel, professor of Jewish ethics at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America; the Rt. Rev. Msgr. James Edward Rea; Amitai W.Etzioni, associate professor of sociology at Columbia; Peter Juviler, associate professor of government at Barnard College; and B. Z. Goldberg, noted Yiddish essayist and author of “The Jewish Problem in the Soviet Union.”

According to Rabbi A. Bruce Goldberg, Jewish chaplain at Columbia and advisor to the Committee on Soviety Jewry, the purpose of the campaign, which precedes the week of Channukah and Christmas, is “to gain official Soviet endorsement for the Jewish community to live as Jews within the USSR, and permission to emigrate to countries where they will be able to enjoy the religious and cultural liberty that is the heritage of all men.”