Eduard Kuznetsov, who arrived in Israel last week after spending nine years in a Siberian labor camp for his part in the 1970 Leningrad hijacking attempt, is preparing for formal conversion to Judaism.
Although his father was Jewish, his mother was not and this, according to Halacha, makes him a non-Jew. Kuznetsov was raised as a non-Jew but his Jewish consciousness was awakened during the time he spent in a labor camp from 1961 to 1968 as a political dissident. After his release from the camp he became an active Zionist and was involved in planning the Leningrad hijacking attempt.
Kuznetsov’s wife, Silva Zalmanson, and her brother, Vulf Zalmanson, both of whom also were in labor camps following the 1970 Leningrad trial, visited Rabbi Israel Lau in Tel Aviv last Saturday and explained the situation to him. He is instructing Kuznetsov in Judaism in preparation for conversion. According to Halacha, once the conversion is completed, Kuznetsov and Silva will have to be married in a Jewish religious ceremony.