New York (Sep. 17)
Theodore Man# chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, Sergio Nudelstejer, secretary of Mexico’s Comite Pro Ayuda Judaisimo Sovietico, and Genya Intrator, chairwoman of the Canadian Committee for Soviet Jewry, today announced the convening of the first North American Leadership Emergency Conference for Soviet Jewry, to be held here Sept. 20-21.
According to the three leaders, the conference will serve to “unite international efforts on behalf of the more than two million Jews in the Soviet Union, mobilize national and local Jewish communal leadership, update the public on current issues, and impress upon delegates the need to return to their governments and have them immediately intervene with Soviet leadership.”
The co-sponsoring organizations maintain that “an emergency situation now exists in the USSR.” The number of Jews granted exit visas in the last year has plummeted to the lowest point in nearly a decade. “In addition, in the last several months, an increasing number of Jews have been arrested and tried, including Viktor Brailovsky, who was sentenced to five years of exile in Siberia.” In a personal message to Jewish leaders in the U.S., Mann stressed that “the fate of so many still in the Soviet Union depends on our work. They cannot afford to have our commitment to a strong advocacy campaign be diminished.”
Mrs. Intrator noted that “despite increased harassment Jewish emigration activists still persist. It is our responsibility to marshal public opinion and unmask Soviet injustices, as well as provide continuous help for Soviet Jews.”
National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (NJCRAC) chairman Bennett Yanowitz underscored the importance of this appeal to leadership, and called for the participation of Community Relations Councils, local Federations and Soviet Jewry committees throughout the country “to formulate a North American response to the current repression of Soviet Jews.”
Mann and his colleagues expect the Emergency Conference will uncover new resources to aid Jewish refuseniks (persons refused permission to leave and join families in Israel or elsewhere) and Prisoners of Conscience in the Soviet Union.
Among the critical topics to be addressed at the conference are: the alarming decrease in Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union; the parallel increase in the arrests of Jewish activists; the banning of scientific and Jewish cultural seminars; and the increased daily harassment of emigration activists.