NEW YORK (Mar. 15)
The International Day of Solidarity with Soviet Jews was marked today by a rally opposite to the Soviet Mission to the United Nations here. More than 300 people, most of them students from the Ramaz Jewish Day School, participated in the rally carrying placards and signs reading “Let Soviet Jews Emigrate,” and “Let Soviet Jews Live Jewish Life.”
The rally, which lasted more than an hour, was organized by the Leadership Development Division of the United Jewish Appeal–Federation Campaign in cooperation with the New York Conference on Soviet Jewry.
The protest rally also marked the seventh anniversary of the arrest of Soviet Jewish dissident Anatoly Shcharansky.
SAYS EFFORTS MUST CONTINUE
New York State Attorney General Robert Abrams, who is a former chairman of the New York Council on Soviet Jewry, said in a short speech to the demonstrators that the efforts on behalf of Soviet Jewry must continue. “Our message is that we shall not forget (Soviet Jews) and that we are dedicated to the struggle of free emigration” for those Russian Jews who want to leave.
Abrams pointed out the emigration of Soviet Jew in 1983 was “a trickle,” with only 1,314 Jews receiving exit visas. He said that judging by the first two months of 1984, the emigration of Soviet Jews this year will be even lower than last year.
Abrams also charged that Jews who seek to emigrate are subject now to more “intimidation and oppression” than previously. He said that it is “imperative” that American Jews continue to be active on behalf of Soviet Jewry because past experience had shown that Jewish pressure in America was effective in helping many Soviet Jews gain their freedom and receive an exit visa.
The rally concluded with a public Minchah (afternoon) service conducted by students of the Ramaz school with a Torah scroll from which they recited the prayer. The Minchah service, Ta’anit Esther, (the fast of Esther), deals with Queen Esther’s efforts to save her Jewish brethren in ancient Persia. The Minchah service commemorated it against the background of the plight of Soviet Jewry.
Meanwhile, earlier today five Hispanic organizations joined the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith to protest Soviet curtailment of Jewish emigration. At the end of their meeting at the Park East Synagogue, across the street from the Soviet Mission to the United Nations, representatives of the Hispanic organizations left a letter of protest at the steps of the Mission.
The letter was addressed to Oleg Troyanovsky, the Soviet Ambassador to the UN. It was signed by Nathan Nagler, chairman of the New York Regional Board of the ADL: Nestor Llamas, executive director of Governor Mario Cuomo’s Advisory Committee for Hispanic Affairs; and Angelo Del Toro, New York State Assemblyman and chairman of the Black and Hispanic Caucus of the New York State legislature.
It said: “Only 1,314 Jews were permitted to leave (the Soviet Union) in 1983, the lowest number in 20 years … The blatant denial of human rights for Jews who have expressed a desire to leave the Soviet Union is intolerable.”
The letter called on the Soviet Union to live up to the “obligation which it assumed by committing itself to the Helsinki accords” and to allow unrestricted Jewish emigration and allow Jews in the USSR to freely practice their faith.