LONG ISLAND, N.Y. (Feb. 21)
Close to 3,000 Long Island residents of all faiths participated today in a unique “Prison Camp Supper” to dramatically protest Soviet oppression of Jews. The event, staged at Mitchell Field in Garden City, sponsored by the Long Island Committee for Soviet Jewry, attempted to focus attention on the entire Soviet Jewry problem and the intolerable conditions under which Soviet prisoners live. According to Inez Weissman, coordinator of the “Prison Supper,” all participants “assumed the status of Soviet prison camp inmates, in order to create a spirit of sharing the suffering of Soviet Jewry.” Entire families, under the eyes of “camp guards,” ate a 300 calorie meal, consisting of beet soup and black bread. Every man, woman and child received facsimile identification cards which all Russian Jews must carry, and will keep these cards as a symbolic link with all Soviet Jews.
Among those addressing the participants were County Executive Ralph G. Caso who proclaimed the day as “Soviet Jewry Day”; Lester L. Wolff, Nassau County Congressman; Mrs. Alla Rusinek, a 21-year-old Soviet Jew who recently emigrated to Israel; Rabbi Marc Tannenbaum of the American Jewish Committee; William Korey of B’nai B’rith, and Morris Brafman, president of the International League for the Repatriation of Russian Jews. Mrs. Rusinek presented a moving account to her listeners of the plight of Soviet Jewry and her personal ordeal of emigration. The audience of young and old, men and women, religious and non-religious–appeared visibly moved, and some women wept openly and unrestrainedly. Mrs. Rusinek said that prior to the Six-Day War, she had not even been aware of the existence of the Jewish State. After that period, she said, she and other young Jews, who had previously felt that they had no homeland of their own, began studying Hebrew and thought earnestly of settling in Israel.
During the “supper,” a 30-foot banner was unveiled, reading “If 2,000 Soviet Jews are permitted to emigrate annually it will take 175 years for all to leave…We will not wait that long…” A Committee spokesman disclosed that the banner will travel throughout Long Island and be displayed in synagogues, churches and organization offices “until the number of Russian Jews permitted to emigrate is increased.” Another highlight of the event was the signing of a 600-foot “Scroll of Liberty.”