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Sssj Cancels Co-sponsorship of Identity Week; Cites Possible Violence As Reason

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The Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry has cancelled its co-sponsorship of next week’s “Jewish Identity Week for Soviet Jewry” program in Washington, D.C., because it does not want to risk having its youthful members subjected to possible violence. Two SSSJ board members–Rabbi Steven Riskin of Lincoln Square Synagogue here and Rabbi Avraham Weiss of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, Monsey, N.Y.–explained that their experience at a May 27 rally here “has taught us that we cannot become involved in any demonstration over which we have no control. The May 27 rallies were co-sponsored by the SSSJ. The upcoming ” Identity Week” is co-sponsored by the Jewish Defense League, the (Philadelphia) Student Activists for Soviet Jewry, the International League for Repatriation of Soviet Jewry. Young Israel Intercollegiate , Betar, the student newspaper Achdut and the Washington Committee for the Release of Captive Soviet Jewry.

The rabbis referred to a student strike for Soviet Jewry and a demonstration at the Soviet Mission at which “there were a number of people who urged youngsters of high school and elementary age to become involved in acts of civil disobedience which aroused the ire of the police and could have potentially caused untold damage were it not for our personal intervention.” Rabbis Riskin and Weiss stated jointly that “While we are not opposed to adults engaging in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience…we regretfully cannot join with any group which may incite younger people to become involved in dangerous acts.” Rabbi Weiss told the JTA that he was not singling out any of the groups involved in the weeklong program as a possible source for violence. The program is scheduled to include picketing, lectures, speeches and guerrilla theater.

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