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Jewish Book Publisher Denied Visa to Attend Moscow Book Fair Next Month

The president of the Association of Jewish Book Publishers, Bernard Levinson, has been denied a visa to attend the biennial Moscow International Book Fair scheduled to open in the Soviet Union next month. No explanation was given.

Saying he had “no idea why” his visa was rejected, Levinson immediately fired off a telegram to lgor Kazansky, book fair chairman, to request that the visa be approved. Levinson suggested that perhaps the visa rejection amounted to a bureaucratic foul-up. “We have to assume that at this point,” he told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a telephone interview from Philadelphia.

The exhibit booth of the Jewish book publishers at the Moscow fair, featuring some 1,000 various titles on Jewish themes, has been a central attraction for Soviet Jews who come from all parts of the Soviet Union. Soviet authorities barred 49 books on Jewish issues from the 1983 book fair, and in 1981, five titles were barred from the exhibit. This year’s booth at the book fair will cost the Jewish publishers association some $2,000.

Besides exhibiting many books, the association distributes during the fair a 64-page catalogue which includes a listing of 1,300 titles from more than 80 publishers, including commercial, university and private presses. Rules for the book fair assert that an exhibitor cannot sell or give away books. In addition to listing various titles, the catalogue includes a two-page Russian translation of Abba Eban’s introduction to “Heritage: Civilization and the Jews,” the eight-part Public Broadcasting Service series. The catalogue also includes a time line of Jewish history; a biographical sketch of Maimonides, the Jewish philosopher and educator whose 850th birthday is being marked this year; and a four-year Jewish calendar.

The catalogue also includes a list of famous Jewish scientists, a description of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, recipes for Jewish food, Hebrew blessings and a popular Hebrew song, “Bashana Haba’ah. “The Jewish Publishers Association last year distributed, according to reports from Moscow, some 10,000 catalogues with similar information.

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