Menu JTA Search

65 Orthodox Students, Rabbi and a Teacher Arrested for Holding Prayer Services at Soviet Mission

A group of 65 students of the Ramaz high school, an elite Manhattan day school under Orthodox sponsorship, was arrested today, along with school principal Haskell Lookstein, and a Ramaz teacher, in front of the Soviet Mission to the United Nations while they were conducting morning prayers for Soviet Prisoner of Conscience Anatoly Shcharansky who began an indefinite hunger strike three weeks ago.

Lookstein, who is also the spiritual leader of Congregation Kehillath Jeshurun, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the idea of holding the morning prayer service in front of the Soviet Mission came from the students. He said he had suggested that one class of 25 students of the high school make their afternoon prayers at 1 p.m. daily, skipping lunch to hold a daily fast in solidarity with Shcharansky.

Lookstein said the young worshippers were in technical violation of a court order banning demonstrations before 9 a.m. The protest morning services begin currently at 7:30 a.m. The students report to class at 8:15 a.m.

Lookstein said the police had given the worshippers time to complete the prayers. Then they marched to the nearby precinct house, the boys still wear- ing their prayershawls and phylacteries. He said the police treated them with the utmost respect in pointing out why they had made the arrests. Lookstein also said that he, the teacher and the students were detained for 30 minutes, then released without charges being filed.

Lookstein said he hoped to work out an arrangement with the police to permit the prayer demonstration but said both the morning and noon prayers would continue until Shcharansky finished his fast in the prison. The services, which started last Thursday, are held daily, except on Saturday and Sunday. Lookstein said Avital Shcharansky, wife of the POC, joined the group today at the request of the prayer demonstration sponsors.

NEXT STORY