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Orthodox Poc May Be Sent to Penal Institution for Observing Sabbath

An Orthodox Jewish Prisoner of Conscience who, since 1970, has been serving a 12-year prison sentence in a strict regime Soviet labor comp, may be transferred to the most infamous Soviet penal institution because he refused to work on the Sabbath, the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry has learned. losif Mendelevitch, a 29-year-old student engineer from Riga, has steadfastly tried to maintain Orthodox Jewish practice within the labor camp to which he was originally imprisoned.

For refusing to work on the Sabbath, he was threatened with transfer to Vladimir Prison Camp, an institution to which prisoners from around the Soviet Union are sent for punishment by their camp commandants. Prisoners are usually sent to Vladimir for short periods of time, but Mendelevitch’s sentence at Vladimir is reportedly over a year, according to the Conference.

During his years as a prisoner, Mendelevitch has refused for reasons of kashruth to eat some foods comprising part of his meager 1200 calories-day diet, he had worked longer hours during the week to fulfill his work quota and not work on the Sabbath, and he has been known to abstain from eating any solid food during the eight days of Passover rather than eat foods containing leavened ingredients forbidden during the holiday, the Conference reported.

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