WASHINGTON (Nov. 19)
Participants in a conference here of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) joined in the daily vigil across the street from the Soviet Embassy today, coinciding with the first meeting of President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Geneva.
The vigil, which ended in an unsuccessful attempt to deliver a letter to Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin, was one of many scheduled to take place worldwide to keep the issue of Soviet Jewish emigration and human rights burning during the Geneva summit conference.
In her letter to the Ambassador, NCJW president Barbara Mandel called on the Soviets to abide by their human rights commitments set out in the 1975 Helsinki accords.
Speaking to the press and to the demonstrators — who included representatives of the National Council of Catholic Women — Mandel said she was not surprised that the Embassy refused to accept the letter but was nevertheless “very disappointed.”
The NCJW which has routinely participated in the Soviet Embassy vigil whenever it has meetings in Washington, is currently holding a four-day “Advocacy Training Conference” to end Thursday. An award was presented before the vigil to the Congressional Wives for Soviet Jewry. Several Congressmen are also slated to receive awards during the conference for their efforts on behalf of Soviet Jews.
The 15-year-old daily vigil is sponsored by the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington. Today’s demonstration followed a protest Sunday which resulted in the planned arrest of some 49 Jewish religious teachers, principals and others who rallied within 500 feet of the Embassy, a violation of a local ordinance. The protest, sponsored by the Washington Board of Rabbis, was the seventh since May that resulted in arrests.