Menu JTA Search

Kitty Dukakis Woos Jewish Vote with Phone Appeal for Refusenik

Kitty Dukakis, Jewish wife of Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Dukakis, arrived on Long Island Monday to woo the New York Jewish vote, two weeks before the delegate-rich state primary on April 19.

Last Thursday, the Dukakis for President Committee contacted the Long Island Committee for Soviet Jewry and arranged with the organization’s executive director, Lynn Singer, to have Kitty Dukakis adopt a Soviet Jewish refusenik at a news conference to take place Monday.

Singer, pressed for time to arrange both a news conference that would include a Soviet-American phone hookup — no mean feat — and prepare for Passover, thought fast and chose Zinovy Ostrovsky of Leningrad, a refusenik for nine years who has a sister, Irina Grottel, in Queens, N.Y., and another sister, Eva Grinberg, in Beersheba, Israel.

Ostrovsky, 41, a computer engineer, lost his position in 1976 when Grinberg applied to emigrate. He has worked odd jobs since then, most recently loading boxes.

At a news conference Monday at police headquarters in Mineola, N.Y. — chosen for its availability and its auditorium’s size — Kitty Dukakis telephoned Ostrovsky. “We look forward to celebrating Passover with you in the United States,” the Massachusetts governor’s wife said during their 20-minute conversation.

It was not the first time she has made such a promise. The Dukakis couple had the opportunity to fulfill a similar promise last June, when they were present at the Bar Mitzvah of longtime refusenik Mishka Fuchs-Rabinovich at Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley, Mass. Kitty Dukakis was given an aliyah.

The Dukakises were active among the long list of Boston-area activists pushing for the emigration of this Moscow family. The campaign was spearheaded by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith. Kitty Dukakis is an executive committee member of ADL in Boston.

Michael and Kitty Dukakis telephoned Michael Fuchs-Rabinovich, Mishka’s father, in December 1986, when he was on a hunger strike.

Singer recalls that Kitty Dukakis contacted her back in 1981 when Singer was president of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jewry. Kitty Dukakis also was involved with the Boston Action for Soviet Jewry, said the group’s director, Judy Patkin, who recalled that she contacted them when Avital Sharansky was in Boston in 1978.

Monday, Dukakis said she feels “very proud of my religion and ethnic roots,” but said, nevertheless, that she did not expect people to vote for her husband, who is not Jewish, just because she is.

NEXT STORY