NEW YORK (May. 24)
In what the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry termed a major new policy statement by leaders of the emigration movement,” 77 Jewish activists from 13 Soviet cities have called for “the revival of Jewish culture in the USSR” as an antidote to anti-Jewish pressure so severe that in one generation “one million Jews will disappear.”
The activists contend that they are not replacing emigration to Israel but are seeking “a cultural autonomy of Soviet Jews inside the USSR” at a time when the Kremlin’s “anti-Semitic campaign has the greatest effect precisely on those Jews who do not know their past, do not have a present and, under the press of propaganda renounce their future,” the SSSJ reported. “Only under conditions of a freer emigration is it possible to create inside the country an atmosphere that would assist the restoration of Jewish culture.”
The program of the activists for both Soviet Jews who choose to stay or wish to leave include a system of Jewish and Hebrew education; access to or publication of Jewish books in Russian, including religious works; publication of Jewish journals in Russian; and the establishment of Jewish cultural performing groups.
This program, the activists said, according to the SSSJ, would stimulate Jewish identity and education in the diaspora, will be “a strengthening of the basis for emigration as well as a serious improvement in the absorption process in Israel.” and might lead to “normal and mutually useful” Soviet-Israeli diplomatic relations. “Today,” the activists declared, “Soviet Jewry is approaching a decisive moment in its history. It can become a turning point for the future of Russian Jews, Israel and world Jewry. Soviet Jews must obtain the chance to be Jews.”