NEW YORK (Dec. 6)
Nehema Lifshitz, the Lithuanian-born Yiddish folk singer, made an impassioned plea today to America’s United Nations Ambassador George Bush for help in getting her sister and members of her sister’s family out of the Soviet Union. Miss Lifshitz, who emigrated to Israel in 1969, joined a delegation of the Leadership Conference of National Jewish Women’s Organizations that visited Bush at US UN Mission headquarters to ask him to raise the issue of rights for Soviet Jews before the world body.
Speaking in a choked voice, in a mixture of English, Yiddish and Russian, the singer appealed for American help in getting exit visas for her sister, Feiga Yarmolovskaya of Kovno, her sister’s husband, Itzhak, their sons, Mikhail and Maxim, and Maxim’s wife Judith, who want to join her in Israel. She said their visa applications were deliberately delayed and that the family was subject to harassment and abuse in retaliation for her departure from Russia. Miss Lifshitz gave her last concert in the USSR in Feb, 1969 and went to Israel in March. Bush, who appeared to be moved by her plea, instructed an aide to take details from her.
The UN envoy later told the representatives of nine national Jewish women’s organizations that “things are happening” on the Soviet Jewish issue as a result of efforts by his office and by UN Secretary General U Thant. “I assure you the issue is receiving high level concern,” he told the delegation after accepting a written appeal for Soviet Jewish rights from Mrs. Howard Levine of West Orange, N.J., chairman of the Leadership Conference’s Soviet Jewry Committee and president of the American Jewish Congress’ Women’s Division.
Bush praised the group as representing the responsible Jewish community. “We must not surrender responsibility for this issue to the irresponsible fringe,” he said. The visit to Bush was one of a series of activities sponsored by the Leadership Conference in 27 American cities today to rally support for Soviet Jews on the occasion of Human Rights Day for Soviet Jewry. It coincided with the start of Human Rights Week at the UN.