Students Sit-in at Hadassah
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Students Sit-in at Hadassah

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About 25 Jewish high school and college students yesterday occupied the office of the national executive director of Hadassah, Miss Aline Kaplan, protesting what they claimed is Hadassah’s “lack of involvement in the plight of Sylva Zalmanson Kuznetsov,” who is gravely ill in a Soviet prison camp. After remaining in Miss Kaplan’s office for about two hours, the students, members of Jewish Youth for Action, a coalition of Jewish youth, finally left after meeting with Malcolm Hoenlein, director of the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry.

Hoenlein, according to a Hadassah spokeswoman, was asked to come to the Hadassah offices to speak to the students. He told the demonstrators that their protest against a Jewish organization is exactly what the Russians want. He said the Russians would rather have Jews arguing amongst themselves than undertaking creative actions against the Soviet government’s anti-Jewish policies. He also said that Hadassah has expressed a strong commitment to the New York and American Conferences on Soviet Jewry. He suggested that the students help organize protests on behalf of Boris Azernikov, the 26-year-old Soviet Jewish dentist who yesterday went on trial in Leningrad.

Mrs. Max Schenk, the national president of Hadassah said later, “We do not deal with other groups other than the representative organizations of which we are a member. It’s not as though nothing is being done,” she said, “and we don’t have to justify our record and activities on behalf of Soviet Jewry.” Referring to the protestors, another Hadassah spokeswoman said “They always come on a particular issue whereas we are involved every day of the week.”

During their meeting with Hoenlein, the students urged him to demand greater organizational and staff assistance from major Jewish organizations such as Hadassah. They expressed frustration over what they consider the lackadaisical, inadequate efforts of such organizations in the struggle for Soviet Jewry. Hoenlein reassured them that Hadassah has undertaken a major role in current efforts on behalf of Soviet Jews, such as the Soviet Jewry rally planned for December in Madison Square Garden. After leaving the Hadassah offices, the students went to protest at the offices of Aeroflot, the Soviet airline.

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