WASHINGTON (Apr. 19)
The Washington area’s first celebration of Easter this year was the sunrise service yesterday morning by Catholic and Protestant clergymen, nuns and laity opposite the Soviet Embassy on behalf of Soviet Jewry.
“This inter-Christian and Interracial remembrance of the liberation of another Jew some 2000 years ago” a Lutheran sponsor of the program said, is “in behalf of persecuted, brutalized and imprisoned Soviet Jewish believers and citizens.”
“On this Easter, a day that over the centuries of Christian history has been one of harassment and brutalization of Jews by Christians as the climax of Holy Week,” said the Rev. John F. Steinbruck, Pastor of the Lutheran Place Memorial Church, “Washington Christians now call upon the Soviet government to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which it signed as a charter member, that guarantees the right to emigrate.”
Among the 30 participants were Dr. Robert L. Pruitt of the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church and Monsignor Ralph Kuehner of the Office of Social Development of the Washington Archdiocese.
The number was held to 30, Dr. Steinbruck said, to avoid possible police charges of excessive demonstration in front of the Soviet Embassy under a city ordinance. The service was conducted on the site of the daily Jewish vigil which usually numbers about 15 participants.
Dr. Steinbruck said that the ground unsuccessfully sought to send a message and a symbol of solidarity to the Soviet Jews through the Soviet Embassy. They rang the front door bell of the Embassy but no one responded to accept a copy of the “Call of Christian Conscience” which Christian delegates had developed at the Second Brussels Conference on Soviet Jewry in February and a potted Easter lily from the altar of the Luther Place Church.