Rigerman’s Uncle Pleased with Congressional Interest in Plight of His Nephew

Leonid Rigerman’s uncle said today he was pleased by Congressional interest in the plight of his nephew, the 30-year-old Jewish computer programer who has been harassed by Soviet authorities for attempting to assert American citizenship. But the uncle, Louis Michael, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he did not have “too much faith” in the public-petition route. He lives in the Bronx district of Rep. James H. Scheuer, a Jewish Democrat who has gathered 67 Congressional signatures on a petition to the State Department urging it help the Russian-born Mr. Rigerman and his Brooklyn-born mother relocate in the United States. Six additional House members have initiated similar requests individually. Mr. Michael said that when Mr. Rigerman’s mother was here two years ago, she said she and her son were suffering “hardships” in the USSR. She indicated then, he said, that the hardships were largely financial and social, with “some” anti-Semitism. In Mr. Rigerman’s current predicament, said Mr. Michael, who has never met or corresponded with him. “We’re not able to gauge how he might feel.” He said his sister had described Mr. Rigerman as an “intelligent and gifted” young man who had taught himself Hebrew because he wanted to. Mr. Rigerman’s grandfather, Jacob Michael, lives in a Bronx nursing home.

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