Situation of Rumanian Jews

Alfred Moses; American Jewish Committee national vice president, left last night for Rumanid to participate in discussions with Rumanian officials on Jewish emigration from that country.

Moses played a key role in talks that led to emigration assurances from the Rumanian authorities last July, when Congress was considering whether to renew Most Favored Norton trade status for Rumania.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations recommended MFN renewal in testimony before the House Trade Subcommittee on the basis of the positive Rumanian assurances to Jewish leaders.

Jewish emigration from Rumania had fallen off precipitously early in 1979, Moses reported. Only some 320 were able to depart for Israel in the first six months of the year, about half the already low 1978 rate. Movement picked up significantly after the July discussions with the Rumanian authorities, and some 1100 Jews left Rumania during 1979. While this was still below the 1978 total of 1200, departures in the last quarter of 1979 increased to about 150 a month, an annual rate of some 1800 should this pace continue.

Important changes in Rumanian procedure in dealing with emigration were instituted following last July’s discussions, Moses noted. Chief Rabbi Moses Rosen of Rumania made it known publicly that persons who wished to emigrate should register, and emigration lists were opened in early September. Forthcoming conversations with the Rumanian authorities will turn on further implementation of the July assurances, Moses declared.

The assurances sought from the Rumanian authorities last July were intended to lighten procedural obstacles to departure and thus allow for greater movement. A major obstacle, Moses noted, still existing is the fact that even after a would-be emigrant is issued a passport by the Rumanian authorities, he still must go through a discouraging pre-application process before he can request a visa.

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