NEW YORK (Dec. 16)
President Reagan has been urged to make a strong statement in support of Soviet Jewry by issuing a pardon to five rabbis currently serving a 15-day sentence in a Virginia prison for demonstrating within 500 feet of the Soviet Embassy in Washington. The plea, in a telegram to the President, was made by the Rabbinical Assembly and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Conservative and Reform rabbinical organizations,respectively. A similar plea was issued by the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry.
At the same time, B’nai B’rith International denounced the sentences handed down to the 22 rabbis and one Lutheran minister last week by a District of Columbia judge. The judge offered along with the fine and probation, a suspended sentence to all the protestors, but the five opted to take the 15 days in jail to dramatize the plight of Soviet Jews who,they said, are not entitled to suspended sentences in the Soviet Union.
Meanwhile, members of the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry and the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale yesterday staged a “flames of freedom” demonstration outside the Soviet diplomatic compound in the Bronx in support of the five imprisoned rabbis. The rabbis are in the Petersburg Prison in Virginia. They are in the minimum security section, receiving kosher food and doing maintenance work.