NEW YORK (Nov. 30)
Washington is abuzz this week with a myriad of activities on behalf of Soviet Jewry, to culminate in the mass mobilization Sunday on the eve of the summit meeting between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
On Tuesday morning, Senators for Soviet Jewry will discuss the issue of seriously ailing refuseniks who have received multiple refusals on “secrecy” grounds.
The news conference in the Russell Senate Building, organized by Sen. Pete Wilson (R-Calif.), will draw specific attention to the three-generation family of Leonid Bialy and Judith Ratner-Bialy in Moscow, who received their 14th refusal a week-and-a-half ago and were told their case would not be renewed until 1992.
The decision was made to focus on the Bialy family because of the juxtaposition of their most recent refusal and the summit meeting. Both Judith and Leonid are seriously ill.
The participants will include Soviet Jewish emigres Leon Charny and his niece, Anna Charny Blank, who are also campaigning for exit visas for Benjamin Charny, as well as Vladimir Bravve, widower of Rimma Bravve, who died of cancer in June in Rochester, N. Y., after a seven-year battle to join her mother and sister and receive medical treatment. The participants decided it would be more effective to focus on a small number of families in order to maximize their cause.
On Wednesday, more than 200 members of Congress are expected to participate in the fifth annual Congressional Fast and Prayer Vigil. The event, organized by Reps. John Porter (R-III.) and Robert Mrazek (D-N.Y.), was founded in 1983 and is one of several annual activities sponsored by national Jewish organizations and the Congressional Human Rights Caucus.
Members of Congress who participate agree to fast from sunrise to sunset. At 11:30 a.m., participants will gather on the east steps of the Capitol for a non-religious ceremony “on behalf of all refuseniks in light of restrictive Soviet emigration policies,” according to Porter’s press secretary, Dave Kohn.
‘HELSINKI’ HEARINGS SET
On Friday morning, five former. . . Soviet refuseniks will discuss the struggle of Soviet Jewry at a hearing before the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, frequently called the Helsinki Commission.
The hearing, to take place in the Rayburn House Office Building, will focus on the issues of “state secrets,” anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union and the overall significance of the Reagan-Gorbachev summit for Soviet Jews.
Participants will offer their own observations on Gorbachev’s policy of reform. Among those invited to testify are former prisoners of Zion Natan Sharansky, Ida Nudel, Vladimir Slepak, Yuli Edelshtein and Lev Elbert.
Friday at noon, a news conference to discuss the schedule for Sunday’s march will be convened at the Capital Hilton Hotel by the Summit Task Force, and will include Morris Abram, chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, and Nudel, Sharansky and Slepak.
Sunday evening following the march and demonstration, two dinners are scheduled to honor former refuseniks. The American Jewish Committee will hold a dinner at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, preceded by a 6:30 news conference at which. Sharansky will share his impressions of the mobilization by the Jewish community. He will then offer a final plea to Reagan and Gorbachev on the eve of their summit meeting.
At the dinner following, scheduled for 7, Sharansky will receive the AJCommittee’s highest award, the American Liberties Medallion, for being a “courageous fighter for Jewish dignity” and “for exceptional advancement of the principles of human liberty.”
At 8:30 p.m., the United Jewish Appeal will open its National Campaign Cabinet meeting at the Mayflower Hotel with a tribute to Soviet Jewry. At the conclave, which was moved from its original New York venue to Washington because of the march, the UJA will honor former refuseniks, among them Yuli Edelshtein and Vladimir Slepak.
UPDATED LIST OF PARTICIPANTS
An updated list of speakers for Freedom Sunday for Soviet Jews includes Abram; former refuseniks and prisoners of conscience Edelshtein, Iosif Mendelevich, Nudel, Sharansky and Slepak; Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel; Vice President George Bush; Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole; and Helen Jackson, founder of the Congressional Wives for Soviet Jewry.
Entertainers expected at the massive rally include singers Pearl Bailey, Paul Simon and Mary Travers.
On Monday morning following the march, a news conference will be held at the Capital Hilton Hotel to wrap up Sunday’s events and provide briefings on Soviet Jewry issues to be discussed during the summit.