Soviet Cultural Group to Be Picketed by Jewish Students; Request for Emigration Given

Several hundred Jewish students from Baltimore area universities are expected to picket the opening performance of the Siberian Dancers and Singers of Omsk at the Lyric Theater here tonight, according to Leon Sachs, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council. They will hand members of the audience entering the theater copies of a letter from the Baltimore Committee for Soviet Jewry to the manager of the troupe condemning the alleged mistreatment of Jews in the Soviet Union, Sachs told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today. The letter, signed by Jack Fruchtman, Jr., secretary of the Baltimore Committee for Soviet Jewry, asks the visiting Russian artists to convey the feelings expressed in it to Soviet authorities when they return home. The letter states, “Your forthcoming appearance in Baltimore is causing a great amount of consternation.” It goes on to say that “The Committee feels that the Siberian Dancers and Singers of Omsk and other similar cultural activities are but Soviet masks to conceal the denial of liberty. You undoubtedly are well aware that your performance before the citizenry of Baltimore this week could not happen in the Soviet Union if you were a Jewish dance troupe.” The letter also referred to a resolution adopted by the Baltimore City Council on Jan. 18 condemning the recent hijack trial of Jews in Leningrad and “Soviet treatment of the kinsmen of Baltimore citizens who have relatives in Poland, Lithuania, Czechoslovakia and other areas ‘suffering under the yoke of Soviet domination.’”

The Baltimore Jewish Council is made up of eight local Jewish organizations with national affiliations. Sachs told the JTA that all of them plus several others not members of the Baltimore Jewish Council, comprise the Baltimore Committee for Soviet Jewry. He said the student pickets would represent Jewish campus groups at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Baltimore, Loyola University and the University of Maryland. In Philadelphia yesterday, Yuri Yurovsky, director of the Omsk dance company, agreed to carry home a request that Soviet Jews be allowed to emigrate or to retain their culture and religion in the USSR. Yurovsky met with representatives of the Philadelphia Jewish Community Council who made the request. Theodore R. Mann, president of the Council defended the appearance of the Soviet artists as “part of the important cultural exchange policy between our two countries.” But he deplored what he called “the deliberate denial and repression of any act of Jewish self-expression by the Soviet government.” The Chicago Committee On Soviet Jewry announced today that it planned a peaceful demonstration for Soviet Jewry when the Siberian Dancers and Singers of Omsk perform in that city next month. He said the plans called for a “Purim Protest” on the occasion.

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