State Dep’t Lauded for Response on Right of Soviet Jews to Emigrate

Mrs. Henry N. Rapaport, president of the National Women’s League of the United Synagogue of America, said today she was gratified with the reaction of the State Department to a personal appeal from her and leaders of nine other national women’s organizations who went to Washington last week to protest the treatment of Soviet Jews by Soviet authorities. “The State Department response on the right of Soviet Jews to emigrate to Israel was encouraging.” she said, “although I would like to see our government pursue the matter more vigorously.” Mrs. Rapaport, who had made the appeal to the State Department officials on behalf of the entire group for more freedom of religion and religious observances by Jews in the USSR, said that she was particularly impressed by the Department’s “willingness to listen to arguments put forth by spiritual leaders on the subject of denial of religious rights.

In her presentation, Mrs. Rapaport had read from a portion of the Shma Yisroel dealing with the mandate upon Jews “to teach them diligently unto thy children,” and related this passage to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which deals with freedom of religion. Queried on her reaction to the refusal last week of the Soviet Embassy to accept a letter written by the women leaders addressed to Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin, she said: “I don’t think we should jump to quick conclusions. After all, some progress has been made this past year; there is yet no reason to assume that the Soviets will do a complete about-face.”

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