Leningrad Defendants, Relatives Sing ‘am Israel Chai’ and Recite Prayer in Court

“I wish to send from this courtroom, Chanukah greetings to all my brethren in Israel.” Those words were spoken by Anatoly Altman, one of the 11 defendants in the Leningrad trial, when he was asked by the court if he had anything to say before sentence was pronounced last Thursday, according to an account appearing today in the newspaper Yediot Achronot. Altman was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment for his part in an alleged hijacking attempt for which two co-defendants, Mark Dymshitz and Edvard Kuznetsov received the death penalty and the others prison terms of 4-15 years. According to the Israeli newspaper, its account of the dramatic final minutes of the Leningrad trial was obtained by telephone from an unidentified Moscow Jew. The report said that when Altman made his statement, all of the other accused and their relatives who were in the courtroom stood up and sang, “Am Israel Chai” and recited the prayer, “Shema Israel.” They were silenced by guards on orders from the bench, according to the informant. But when the prisoners were being removed from the courtroom. Silva Zalmanson Kuznetsov, who was sentenced to ten years for her part in the hijack plot, shouted, “If I forget thee, Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning.” She is the wife of Edvard Kuznetsov, who was sentenced to death.

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