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Appeal for Public Response to Trials; Committee to Hear Testimony on Soviet Jews

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Haggard from her almost nonstop efforts to alert Americans to the situation of her daughter, Ruth, and three other Riga Jews on trial in that Soviet Latvian city, Mrs. Rivka Aleksandrovich called again today for an upsurge of public opinion against such trials of Jews. “I am sure that to keep silent today is a grave sin,” she declared. “If anything helps it is public opinion–perhaps a call from the White House would help…To stand aside, not to interfere is to sin.” Therefore, she pleaded with 120 Jewish women leaders: “Don’t sin.” Mrs. Aleksandrovich addressed a press conference and then a meeting arranged by the Women’s Plea for Soviet Jewish Prisoners of Conscience, an ad hoc committee representing 17 Jewish organizations and Church Women United, the National Council of Negro Women, the National Council of Catholic Women and the Young Women’s Christian Association. Mrs. Aleksandrovich, whose United States tour is being coordinated by the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry, said the new Soviet trials represented “a new page in our (Jews’) mournful age-old history.” Three speakers–two Catholics and a black–spoke out at the meeting in support of Mrs. Aleksandrovich’s cause. Sister Rose Thering, O.P., of the Institute of Judaeo-Christian Studies at Seton Hall University asserted:

“Discrimination against Jews is a fact in the Soviet Union…Christians have a moral responsibility to speak out…Our brothers are on trial for their convictions, their beliefs.” Sister Rose read a telegram she was about to send to Pope Paul VI. it called on the Pontiff to exercise his “gracious intervention” to obtain the release of the Soviet Jewish “prisoners of conscience.” Mrs. Jacqueline Grennan Wexler, president of Hunter College, said she fully understood and endorsed the goals of those who cry “Never again,” although she rejected the use of violence to obtain those goals. Mrs. Eleanor Holmes Norton, chairman of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, said it was “inexcusable” for blacks not to aid Jews in trouble, considering their own misfortunes. “We feel very specially for Ruth Aleksandrovich and for Soviet Jews,” she said. The gathering endorsed a resolution read by Mrs. Faye Schenk, president of Hadassah. It concluded: “In the names of our common humanity we appeal to the government of the Soviet Union to free the Jewish prisoners, to stop the trials and to grant to all Soviet Jews the freedom to live as Jews at home or to emigrate and live as Jews in Israel.” Mrs. Dorothy Goldberg, the wife of former United Nations Ambassador Arthur J. Goldberg, announced that on June 22, at a location to be set, a newly formed “Committee of Inquiry” will hear public testimony on the situation of Soviet Jews.

The panel will consist of Gen. Telford Taylor of Columbia University, chief prosecutor at Nuremberg; Bayard Rustin, black civil rights leader; Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America; Prof. George Wald, Nobel laureate of Harvard; former Sen. Charles E. Goodell of New York; Prof. Hans J. Morgenthau of New York and Chicago, and J. Brook Mosley, president of the Union Theological Seminary. At the end of the program, held across the street from the UN, the women proceeded to a silent vigil at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. Meanwhile, the National Women’s League of the United Synagogue of America has assured Mrs. Aleksandrovich that “we…will not falter in our efforts to press for fair trials for the imprisoned Jews, as well as for the rights of Russian Jews to emigrate.” Mrs. Henry N. (Selma) Rapaport, president of the League, wrote in part: “Our hopes and prayers go forth, along with yours, that your daughter, Ruth, will be freed and that in the not too distant future, she will be reunited joyously with her family in Israel…(W)e are determined that American Jewry will not rest, nor will it be silent, until those who wish to leave the Soviet Union be permitted to do so…Through you, we salute Ruth and her colleagues for their courage and sacrifices for principle in these difficult days…They are an example to the world that principles and convictions are still important in our world.”

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