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Special to the JTA Dulzin: ‘a Change for the Better’ in Rumanian Emigration Promises

Leon Dulzin, chairman of the World Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency Executives, contends there has been “a change for the better in Rumania’s promises” regarding the free emigration of Rumanian Jews to Israel. He spoke to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency following his recent visit to Rumania which he described enthusiastically as one of the most moving and exhilarating experiences of his life.

“I saw before my eyes the truth of ‘Am Yisrael Chai’,” Dulzin said, recalling his visits to outlying provincial cities where most of the Jewish residents turned out at the synagogue to meet with him and hear him speak in Yiddish.

In Dorokhoi, for example, a town with some 600 Jews, more than 400 came to the synagogue to see the Zionist leader. “I knew that village from Yiddish literature,” Dulzin said. “From Mendele Mocher Seforim….I could not control my tears, nor could the people. They touched me, stroked me…. It was sad, moving — and yet it was concrete evidence of Am Yisrael Chai.”

There are an estimated 40,000 Jews still living in Rumania, out of a post-war, total of 400,000. Almost 350,000 have gone to Israel over the years and thus almost all of those who still remain have relations or friends in Israel. Part of the heavy Israeli tourism to Rumania each summer comprises former Rumanians visiting relatives, and there is some Jewish tourist traffic, though restricted, in the other direction.

ONE-THIRD WANT TO EMIGRATE

According to Dulzin, one-third of the Jews in Rumania actively want and intend to immigrate to Israel. Another third would consider the move but the remainder cannot, because of age, infirmity or other reasons.

The Minister of Religions of the Rumanian government assured Dulzin that the procedures for applying for exit visas would henceforth be simplified. Dulzin accordingly urged the Jews wherever he went to make applications — repeated applications if necessary — and in this way put the government’s pledges to the test.

Meanwhile, Dulzin informed Rumanian officials that the WZO had, when asked for advice, told U.S. Jewish organizations that in its view Rumania did deserve most-favored-nation trade states. This advice was apparently given on the basis of past statistics and the promises of a change in present restrictions on emigration.

ONE OF THE BEST-RUN COMMUNITIES

Dulzin had praise for his host, Chief Rabbi Moshe Rosen, to whom he ascribes the impressive religious organization of the Rumanian community which has ritual slaughterers and Kosher restaurants in many cities, synagogues and Hebrew classes, burial societies and other institutions. Rumania, said Dulzin, has one of the best-run national Jewish communities anywhere — and this was almost entirely thanks to Rosen. “The facts speak for themselves,” the Zionist leader said. He denied the periodic allegations that Rosen refuses to allow Rumanian Jewish officials — teachers and shochets — to emigrate to Israel.

The Jewish Agency has undertaken to send to Rumania five religious officials to keep up religious services and practices in the outlying communities, Dulzin said. “It is a real holy mission to go out there for a year or two,” he remarked.

In his speeches in Rumania, Dulzin said he stressed three political points: the freedom of culture and worship enjoyed by Rumanian Jewry, in contrast to conditions elsewhere in the Communist bloc; Rumania’s refusal to support the infamous Zionism equals racism resolution at the UN; and Rumania’s support for the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.

He got his most rousing ovation; Dulzin recalls, when he remarked, to an overflow audience in Bucharest’s Choral Synagogue one Friday night: “Would that I could soon make this same Zionist speech in Moscow and Leningrad….”

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