NEW YORK (Jan. 31)
Four rabbis were among seven persons arrested as they sat in the street in front of the Soviet Mission to the United Nations to protest the KGB’s continued arrests and searches of homes of unofficial Jewish teachers. The seven were charged with disorderly conduct and ordered to appear for a court hearing February 27.
The protest action, several days ago, was organized by the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (SSSJ) as the first in a series at the Mission under the name “Operation Redemption.”
The seven arrested were Rabbis Lewis Frishman of Temple Beth El in Spring Valley, NY, Jeffrey Hoffman of Congregation Sons of Israel in Upper Nyack, NY, Michael Katz of Temple Beth Torah in Westbury, Long Island, and James Michaels of the Whitestone Hebrew Center, NY; Tod Jacobs and Tom Rose, journalism students at Columbia University who has just returned from the Soviet Union where they met with Jewish refuseniks; and Glenn Richter, national coordinator of the SSSJ. The seven demonstrators were joined by Rabbi Avraham Weiss, chairman of the SSSJ. He was one of the six rabbis arrested earlier this month while staging a sit-in at the offices of Tass, the Soviet news agency. Charges of criminal trespass against them were dismissed in City Criminal Court.
The group at the Soviet Mission stated that they were there “because the Kremlin is engaged in a systematic campaign of spiritual genocide. As such, there can be no business as usual” for Soviet officials in the United States.
The group pointed to the arrests of unofficial Jewish educators such as Yuli Edelstein, Yakov Mesh and Alexander Kholmyansky, and the arrest last week of Dan Shapiro of Moscow, coordinated with searches of six apartments of unofficial teachers. They also focused on “a new wave of KGB physical brutality, an increased anti-semitic campaign in the Soviet media, and the slashing of emigration by 98 percent since 1979.”