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Soviet Jewry Walkathon

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Holding aloft matzoh in protest against the Kremlin’s ban on importation of the Passover food, Bella Abzug, Representatives Elizabeth Holtzman, Edward Koch, Stephen Solarz, Herman Badillo, all of New York, and Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden led 1000 youths in a 10-mile Walkathon, a modern interpretation of the ancient Israelite exodus from Egypt. The Walkathon, the fourth annual such event, was sponsored by the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry and Brooklyn Coalition for Soviet Jewry.

The march also focused attention on recent threats against Soviet Jewish emigration movement leaders Vladimir Slepak, Prof. Alexander Lerner and Anatoly Sharansky, as well as on the fate of kidnapped Moscow Jewish teenager Marina Tiemkin, Sharansky was arrested March 15 and is currently under interrogation on charges of “spying and treason”. His parents were questioned and their home searched by police agents this weekend. Tiemkin has been held by the Soviets since she was abducted four years ago after she and her father declared their intentions of exiting to Israel.

Holtzman, who had met Sharansky during a visit to the USSR, declared that “people in the United States care deeply about freedom. We will not permit, without protest, our brothers in the Soviet Union to be oppressed any further.” Abzug summed up the goals of the march when she said. “This Walkathon is a celebration of the spirit and meaning of the Passover holiday the spirit of freedom.”

Some marchers wore mock prison suits. All had money pledged to them for each mile they walked. The funds go to help families dismissed from their jobs after applying to leave, and to wives and children of Prisoners of Conscience.

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