WASHINGTON (Apr. 5)
The House Subcommittee on Postal Facilities and Mail has scheduled hearings for Wednesday, April 12 to find out why postal authorities ordered the destruction of several thousand pounds of matzo mailed to the Soviet Embassy here for delivery to Jews in the Soviet Union, but which the Embassy refused to accept. The hearing was ordered by Rep. Robert N. C. Nix (D. Pa.), the subcommittee chairman, at the request of Rep. Joshua Eilberg (D. Pa.).
In a separate development, Sen. Harrison A. Williams Jr. (D. N.J.) disclosed that he has asked the US Postal Service for an immediate explanation of why the matzos were destroyed. An aide to the eight-member subcommittee headed by Rep. Nix told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that the chairman has asked Postmaster General Elmer Klassen to have Postal Service representatives ready to testify at next week’s hearing.
Other witnesses are understood to include Robert C. Kohler, director of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League regional office in Newark, N.J.; and Samuel L. Gaber of Philadelphia, director of the ADL’s regional office for Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware. The ADL conceived the idea of mass mailings of matzos to the Soviet Embassy in Washington as a means of dramatizing the lack of freedom of Soviet Jews on the eve of Passover.
Williams said in a letter to the Postal Service that the destruction of the matzos “apparently took place just hours after my office contacted the Postal Service” in an “attempt to secure the matzos for distribution” to charitable institutions. His letter expressed “great dismay” over the destruction of the food and requested an immediate reply as to why it was destroyed “under what authority, who made the decision and when the order was issued.”