Menu JTA Search

Mayor Lindsay Calls on Russia to Let Jews Emigrate to New York or Israel

Mayor John V. Lindsay called tonight on the Soviet Union to allow its Jews, who he said were trapped “half-free and half-slave” to come to New York City, “where they will find the kind of freedom you cannot grant.” Asserting that “we are all brothers of the Soviet Jews,” the Mayor spoke at a Simhat Torah demonstration at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations, at which New York’s Jewish community expressed its solidarity with Soviet Jews.

“We say to the Soviet Union — if you cannot let our brothers live in freedom, then let our brothers go.” he told the rally. “If you cannot grant them the right to worship by their own lights, then let our brothers go. If you cannot permit them to raise their children by the faith of their fathers, then let our brothers go. If you cannot let them think, speak, pray and live as free men. then let our brothers go.”

He said, “let them go to Israel where a free Jewish homeland awaits them. Let them go to Israel, where they can live and walk among their fellows, finding there what you would deny them, and let them come too, if they wish, to America and to this City where they will find the kind of freedom you cannot grant.”

The demonstration was organized by the New York Conference on Soviet Jewry and the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry. The Conference, under the chairmanship of Rabbi Norman Lamm, represents the major Jewish organizations of New York and the local branches of major national Jewish organizations. Mayor Lindsay was joined by Congressman Allard K. Lowenstein, actor Theodore Bikel, folk singer Shlomo Carlebach and the Zamir Chorale group. The theme of the gathering was “let them live or let them leave.” The event was organized as the American counterpart of the annual practice of young Soviet Jews who mark Simhat Torah with singing and dancing in the streets outside the Central Synagogue in Moscow. Similar celebrations are being sponsored by the American Jewish Conference for Soviet Jewry in 59 other American cities.

Seven religious processions bearing palm branches and torches crossed Hammarskjold Plaza, each in behalf of a selected Russian Jewish community — Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Odessa, Riga, Vilna, and Tashkent. Mayor Lindsay led the first procession.

NEXT STORY