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40-day Vigil for Soviet Jewry

A 40-day vigil to focus Los Angeles attention on the plight of Soviet Jews began today with Mayor Sam Yorty “walking the line” with a group of distinguished Jewish and non-Jewish, black and white community leaders in front of City Hall. According to Cyrus J. Levinthal, chairman, Commission on Soviet Jewry of the Community Relations Committee, the vigil was designed to alert all of Los Angeles to “the continuing deprivation of religious and cultural freedoms inflicted on Russian Jews, as well as the hardships resulting from their attempts to leave the country. By the end of the vigil on the eve of Chanukah, virtually every community in the greater Los Angeles area will experience peaceful demonstrations at the seats of municipal governments or heavily trafficked locations.”

Further explaining the purpose of the vigil, Levinthal said. “There is evidence that the Kremlin is extremely mindful of American protestations of Soviet treatment of Russian Jews. This vigil as well as similar rallies across the US, may well serve to remind the Russian leaders that Americans will continue to demonstrate against the injustices being perpetuated against the Jews.” More than 200 Jewish groups have assumed the responsibility of turning out their membership on a given date and a given location to participate in the vigil. It is also expected that many nationally prominent figures will participate during forthcoming visits to Los Angeles, Levinthal said.

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