WASHINGTON (Mar. 15)
B’nai B’rith International, which has been “adopting” individual Soviet Jewish refuseniks over the last several years, announced yesterday that it will take that concept a giant step further by “adopting” entire Soviet Jewish communities.
In letters to B’nai B’rith leaders around the world, B’nai B’rith president Gerald Kraft and executive vice president Dr. Daniel Thursz said that the Jewish Service organization’s local councils will be paired, beginning today, with cities in the Soviet Union in an ongoing program.
Several dozen cities have already been coupled, they said. Only those Soviet cities with known refuseniks and a significant Jewish population are being selected.
Kraft and Thursz noted that today has been designated by world Jewish organizations as the International Day of Concern for Soviet Jewry. That designation they explained, was inspired by B’nai B’rith’s worldwide demonstration last year, on the eve of the Third World Conference on Soviet Jewry in Jerusalem. More than 100 B’nai B’rith communities proclaimed their solidarity with Soviet Jewry with rallies, demonstrations, teach-ins, and petitions.
B’nai B’rith International is providing its local groups with profiles of known refuseniks in their adopted community; instructions on communicating with Jews in that city; and a step-by-step guide on implementing the program.
Among the steps are: serving as the voice for a Soviet community that is denied the right to speak for itself; in effect, the local B’nai B’rith has been “appointed” special advocate for that Soviet Jewry community; carrying on correspondence with refuseniks; and informing the local media about the adopted Soviet Jewish community.