TEL AVIV (Mar. 8)
Chief Rabbi Yaacob Dabarashvilli of the Soviet Georgian Republic arrived here today and reported that the situation of Georgian Jews seeking to emigrate to Israel was not at all bad. The 70-year-old white-bearded rabbi from Koutaisi who speaks modern Hebrew fluently, said there seemed to be no obstacles preventing Georgian Jews from getting exit visas.
He also reported that the Soviet authorities permit Georgian Jews to observe Jewish law and that synagogues are functioning unhindered. Rabbi Dabarashvilli had an enthusiastic reunion at the airport with his brother, Michael, who settled in Palestine 50 years ago and whom he had not seen during that time.
Other Soviet immigrants arriving on the same plane told relatives that Soviet police had boarded their train at its last stop in Russia and confiscated electrical appliances and other valuables in the possession of the emigres. They said the police claimed the items were being smuggled because “as workers you could not afford to buy such things.”
About 200 immigrants from Western countries, mainly Latin America, arrived today in Haifa aboard the Israeli motorship Dan which they had boarded in Europe for the final leg of their journey. A total of 170 were from Latin America and the largest single group, 155, from Argentina.
Rabbi Mordechai Kirshblum, head of the Jewish Agency’s immigration department, greeted the newcomers before they disembarked. He said 3000 immigrants are expected from Latin America this year compared to 2500 last year. Rabbi Kirshblum attributed the increase to Zionist sentiments and the deteriorating economic situation in Latin America which has caused the shut-down of many Jewish schools.