Trans-canada Caravan for Soviet Jewry

A trans-Canada “Caravan for Soviet Jewry” consisting of 30 Jewish college students in a chartered bus, arrived here from Halifax, Nova Scotia to a warm welcome by the Jewish community and the Vancouver city fathers.

Bedraggled and sleepless after the coast to coast drive, their enthusiasm for the cause of Soviet Jews denied emigration rights was boundless. They were greeted at City Hall by Mayor Mike Harcourt and addressed by Conservative Member of Parliament John Fraser and Irwin Cotler, the McGill University law professor who served as attorney for Anatoly Shcharansky before he was allowed to leave the USSR last February.

The youths responded by dancing an energetic hora and singing the traditional Hebrew hymn, “Hinei Ma Tov” which Shcharansky has said sustained his morale during nine years in the Soviet Gulag.

Later, before a crowd of 400, the students staged a mock trial, indicting the Soviet Union for barring the free movement of its citizens.

As a climax to their coast-to-coast trek, the students visited the Soviet Pavilion at the Vancouver Expo. Once inside, they removed their outer clothing to display red T-shirts bearing a picture of the Kremlin and the words “It’s a tough place to live. It’s a tougher place to leave.”

The youths left the pavilion peacefully when they were asked to do so. The Caravan was headed by Mimi Estrin, a 22-year-old student at York University, Toronto.

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