New York Zionist Activists Hold Passover Vigil for Soviet Jewry

With arms intertwined, voices raised in Hebrew song and an Israeli flag held proudly above their heads, agroup of Jewish students from universities-around the New York area held an all-night protest vigil, beginning Saturday night, across the street from the Soviet Union’s Mission to the United Nations.

The young protesters, members of the Tagar Zionist Student Activist Movement and the Betar Zionist Youth Organization, were calling on the Soviet Union to grant the Jews of that country the freedom to emigrate.

“Passover celebrates the time the Jewish people gained their freedom thousands of years ago, but today, a major portion of our people are not free,” said Ira Deutsch, one of the vigil organizers. “Just as the Hebrew slaves were once cruelly oppressed in Egypt, the Jews in Russia today are oppressed by a Soviet government that neither lest them emigrate to Israel nor practice their culture and religion.”

During the vigil, the students participated in many activities that are forbidden to their brothers and sisters in the Soviet Union, including the teaching of Hebrew, studying the Jewish religion and eating matzoh.

The vigil culminated in a rally Sunday morning during which the students took down a mock “iron curtain” in a ceremony that represented their hope that in the near future, all Jews will be free.

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