Jewish, Christian Clerics Urge U.S. to Intervene on Behalf of Soviet Jews

Christian and Jewish clergymen called on President Nixon and the U.S. government today to intervene more actively with Soviet authorities on behalf of Russian Jews. The clergymen addressed about 500 persons attending a prayer vigil for Soviet Jews at a park three blocks from the White House. The vigil was organized by the Synagogue Council of America in cooperation with the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry. Similar rallies and vigils also took place in Chicago and New York. (See separate New York story). At the Washington vigil, the Rev. Dean Louis, of the United Presbyterian Church, urged Christians in the Soviet Union to become more concerned with the fate of their Jewish fellow citizens. He appealed to President Nixon to “use his good offices and intervene” for the release and restoration of full civil rights to Soviet Jews imprisoned or facing trial. He also asked the World Council of Churches to “raise this concern with fellow Christians in the Soviet Union.”

Rev. Metz Rollins, executive director of the National Committee of Black Churchmen declared that “Nixon has been strangely silent on this issue. He should speak out.” Father John F. Hotchkin, executive director of the U.S. Bishops Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Catholic Conference, referred to fellow Christians when he said, “May they not cease to make their voices heard in increasing numbers, may they call for the liberation of their fellow men caught in this captivity.” Rabbi Solomon J. Sharfman, president of the Synagogue Council, asked President Nixon to instruct the State Department to “promptly take vigorous measures to convey to the Soviet authorities this government’s outrage at the trials in Leningrad, Riga and Kishinev.” Rabbi Sharfman said the issue “has not yet been raised by our government in its contacts with the Soviet Union with the seriousness it deserves.” Jews in Chicago today observed a Prayer Day for Soviet Jews proclaimed by the Chicago Board of Rabbis. They were asked by the rabbis to send messages to all responsible American and Russian officials expressing outrage at the trials of Jews in the USSR.

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