NEW YORK (Aug. 22)
Paulina Korenblit, wife of Russian Jewish prisoner Mikhail Korenblit, said today that the stiff new emigration fees for educated Soviet Jews were “incomprehensible sums for people like my father, an engineer, and my brother, who has two or three degrees.” A good engineer, she reported to Hadassah today, earns 200 rubles ($243) monthly “at most,” and “families would have to literally go without food for years to accumulate the money to buy their way out, to pay for the exit visas.” She “still cannot believe that the government will really enforce these new charges,” she said.
Mrs. Korenblit, 28, was in town to accept Hadassah’s most prestigious honor, the Henrietta Szold Award, on behalf of her 35-year-old husband and other Soviet Jewish activists. It was to be presented at tonight’s banquet of Hadassah’s 58th national convention. Named after Hadassah’s founder, it recognizes exceptional humanitarian service. Last year’s winner was Israeli President Zalman Shazar. Hadassah is also underwriting scholarships to its Community College in Jerusalem for students from the Soviet Union who cannot afford further education.
Mrs. Korenblit, who left the USSR for Israel in April and works as a pharmacist for Haifa’s Kupat Holim (Sick Fund), told Hadassah today that when she last saw her husband, in Feb., he complained of heart pains, severe headaches and lack of thorough medical attention. She said he works alternately at heavy construction and in a glove factory, but that the productivity quotas are so high he cannot reach them and is docked five rubles ($6.08) a month.
The two two-kilo (4.41 pound) food packets per year allowed a Soviet prisoner could once include instant coffee, cocoa, vitamins, prescription drugs, post cards and cigarette lighters, but now are limited to concentrated soups and dried fruits, Mrs. Korenblit reported. “You see,” she said, “the authorities change the rules so arbitrarily, without any rhyme or reason, that it keeps one off-balance.” Of Israel, Mrs. Korenblit said: “It was much more developed than I expected. When Mikhail and I dreamed of going to Israel, we were prepared to be pioneers in a primitive country. It is beautiful, and both the officials and the ordinary people have given me every kind of help and attention. I have already made wonderful friends.”
Mrs. Faye L. Schenk, whose Hadassah presidency will end tomorrow after four one-year terms, said in remarks prepared for delivery tonight that “those who are fortunate enough to obtain visas and go to Israel” were benefited by Hadassah’s “great work of rebuilding lives.” Some, she noted, “come to Israel mentally and physically exhausted,” and children must be provided with a “transitional means of integrating into Israeli society.” Reviewing Hadassah Medical Center’s absorption of immigrants with health-care skills, Mrs. Schenk advised that “At the end of the year we plan to integrate these doctors and scientists either into our own staff or place them in other institutions. This is a costly and a challenging program,” she said. “However, the return to the people involved and the contribution to the upbuilding of Israel more than balance out cur efforts.”