CHICAGO (Mar. 21)
The two-day National Interreligious Consultation on Soviet Jewry ended yesterday afternoon with passage of a resolution authorizing “a direct appeal to President Nixon as the representative of the American people to convey in clear and forthright terms to the Soviet authorities during their forthcoming conversations in Moscow the expectation of the American people– Christians and Jews, Black and white, liberal and conservative–that (the) discriminations and denials of Soviet Jewry and others be stopped now and that fundamental human rights be granted–now.”
The “Manifesto of Conscience” declared: “We cannot remain silent as long as the Soviet Union continues to hamper or strangle the spirit and cultural life of the Jewish people through extreme and special acts of discrimination.”
The 165 Protestant, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Jewish delegates also authorized additional consultations on regional and local levels several times a year; an interfaith delegation to seek a meeting with Soviet Jewish political prisoners, and an interfaith delegation to request a meeting with Nixon to give him a copy of the manifesto.
BLACK SUPPORT FOR SOVIET JEWS
Dr. M.L. Wilson, chairman of the National Committee of Black Churchmen, declared: “I think it is fitting that a member of America’s largest minority should voice concern for the plight of Jews in the Soviet Union. I know of nothing in the world that should prick our consciences more than what is going on in the Soviet Union. If we are not willing to lay ourselves on the line for these people, we are not ready to help ourselves.”
Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum, interreligious affairs director of the American Jewish Committee, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the manifesto’s references to “Soviet Jewry and others” were not designed to downplay the situation of Soviet Jews but to inspire American Christians to involve themselves in the problem. Calling this an “Important achievement” of the resolution, he said of American Christians: “They have a stake in this problem, a personal stake. It wasn’t a question of being nice to the Jews.”
At an interreligious rally last night at Holy Name Cathedral, 700 persons heard Rabbi Tanenbaum declare that he expected Nixon to raise the Soviet Jewry issue with the Kremlin leaders and report to the American public on the results.
The Most Rev. Fulton J. Sheen, retired Archbishop of Rochester, N.Y., and Titular Archbishop of Newport, offered “my word of support,” saying: “May the God of love inspire our President to plead for the Jewish people and for all the persecuted people in Russia.” He added: “Every man has two or three critical moments in his lifetime,” and this trip to Moscow is one of those moments for President Nixon to come to the aid of suffering people.