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Lelyveld Tell’s Rogers Soviet Jews As National Group Entitled to Voa Yiddish Programs

The president of the American Jewish Congress complained to Secretary of State William P. Rogers today about a comment by a United States official Monday that for 20 years the State Department has not decided that Soviet Jews should receive Yiddish and Hebrew broadcasts over the Voice of America. Rabbi Arthur J. Lelyveld asked Rogers in a letter to “make clear to the American people and to the rulers of the Kremlin themselves that the United States recognizes the Jews of the USSR as constituting a national group,” making them “entitled” to Yiddish and Hebrew broadcasts. Rabbi Lelyveld expressed “bewilderment and concern” over a comment by a U.S. official, reported in yesterday’s JTA Daily News Bulletin, that Soviet Jewry did not constitute a national group and thus was not automatically entitled to such programing. The Jewish leader advised Rogers that such broadcasts would have “great symbolic as well as practical value, particularly for the hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews who have listed their mother tongue as Yiddish.” They would also, he continued, serve as “a welcome and continuous reminder that the United States is deeply concerned with the rights of Soviet Jewry.”

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