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Soviet Jewry Vigil, Human Rights Day Marked by Washington Jewry

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Washington Jewry observed the 10th anniversary of its daily vigil for Soviet Jewry and the 32nd anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights here yesterday with an appeal to the Soviet Union to free Jewish Prisoners of Conscience and to end the “cultural and religious persecution of Jews” who seek to emigrate from the USSR.

Marking the vigil, which has been a daily practice opposite the Soviet Embassy since it began on Dec. 10, 1970, during the Chanukah festival, a large crowd gathered at the site as Marcia Weinberg, chairman of the Soviet Jewry Committee of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, and Rev. John Steinbruch, Pastor of the Luther Place Memorial Church, attempted to deliver a “statement of concern” to the Embassy.

They were met at the Embassy gate by on official who spoke to them briefly but refused to accept the document. It was later mailed to the Embassy.

The case of Viktor Broilovsky, the Soviet Jewish scientist and human rights activist who was arrested Nov. 13 and is currently awaiting trial in Moscow on charges of “slandering the Soviet State,” was the central focus of the Human Rights Day observance. A program preceding the vigil was addressed by Jerry Goodman, executive director of the National Conference for Soviet Jewry, who assessed the outlook for human rights and Soviet Jews following the Helsinki review conference in Madrid, and by Steinbruch who reported on his human rights activities in Madrid. Steinbruch said he had raised the Brailovsky case with the delegates of several nations participating in the conference.

The statement addressed to the Soviet Embassy said: “We call on the government of the USSR to live up to the obligations of the UN Declaration on Human Rights and to the Helsinki agreements, and to free all Jewish Prisoners of Conscience who are suffering in labor camps, prisons or in exile because of their desire to emigrate to Israel; to forbid all existing forms of cultural and religious persecution of Jews who have expressed the wish to unite with their families and their people; and to allow the ‘refusniks’ — those men, women and children who for years hove been deprived of their basic rights and have lived under constant pressure without means of livelihood — to emigrate from the USSR.”

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