NEW YORK (Apr. 26)
Leaders of the American Zionist Federation, the Synagogue Council of America and the American Jewish Committee have issued appeals for mass support of National Solidarity Day for Soviet Jewry next Sunday and for action by President Nixon to relieve the plight of Soviet Jews. Rabbi Israel Miller, president of the AZF, issued a call to President Nixon “to make known to the American people that he will personally carry our message of concern for Russian Jewry to the leaders of the Soviet Union.”
It is “inconceivable to us,” he went on, “that our President would remain silent when other leaders of the free world raised the issue of Soviet Jewry during their visits to the Kremlin.” Nixon goes to Moscow May 22.
Rabbi Miller recalled that on Sept. 29, 1968, Nixon advised him: “I am deeply concerned by the resurgence of the Soviet anti-Jewish propaganda campaign, thinly disguised as anti-Zionism….I deplore the discriminatory measures imposed upon the Jews in the Soviet Union, and I hope and trust that humanitarians throughout the world will continue vigorously to protest these restrictions and deprivations of human rights.” At the time of this letter, Nixon held no public office and was the Republican nominee for President.
“President Nixon,” Rabbi Miller declared, “you are now the humanitarian who must protest. We ask you to let us know that you will protest, strongly and forthrightly, that you will be the advocate of three million oppressed Soviet Jews and the messenger of millions of Americans who join in their cry for freedom now.”
NATIONAL SABBATH DAY OF SOLIDARITY
The Synagogue Council–embracing six agencies of all three branches of Judaism–has designated Friday evening and Saturday a “National Sabbath of Solidarity With Soviet Jewry.” The SCA president, Rabbi Irving Lehrman of Miami Beach, urged synagogue prayers “that the meeting in Moscow will serve the cause of world peace, and that our Jewish brethren in the USSR and men of every faith who are not free to serve God will be granted the right to observe their faith in freedom and dignity.”
Rabbi Lehrman called on Nixon to advise the Kremlin that while “it is clear that the majority of Soviet Jews wish to remain in the Soviet Union as loyal citizens of that country,” they must have “the basic right to develop those religious institutions which will assure their religious survival.” And those who wish to leave, he added, should be allowed to.
CATHOLIC LEADER ISSUES SUPPORT
Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum, national interreligious affairs director of the American Jewish Committee, welcomed the endorsement of Solidarity Day by the Most Rev. Joseph L. Bernardin, general secretary of the United States Catholic Conference. Bishop Bernardin said in a statement that “Truly, when government is bent on denying fundamental religious liberties to any group, none is safe and all must join in protest.” Solidarity Day, he said, “draws United States Christians and Jews into even closer fellowship, in the knowledge that Soviet restriction of religious and civil liberties extends not only to Jews but to Christians as well.”
Rabbi Tanenbaum called this endorsement “a development of major importance,” as “it signifies that the plight of three million Jews of the Soviet Union, as well as of other religious and national groups who are being denied their fundamental human rights, has emerged as a moral priority on the agenda of the Roman Catholic Church, as it is among other large segments of American society.”
At Lehman College, City University, a demonstration by the Ad Hoc Committee for Soviet Jews today drew about 60 participants. The demonstrators marched and chanted for 90 minutes. They demanded that President Nixon take up the issue of Jewish freedom to emigrate when he visits Moscow next month.