JERUSALEM (Jan. 30)
Simcha Dinitz, head of the World Zionist Organization, and Ida Nudel, a former prisoner of conscience in the USSR, are impassioned speakers when it comes to the subject of Soviet Jewry.
But they differ sharply in their assessments of what the future has in store for Soviet Jews in light of the policies of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Both expressed their views at a session of the Hadassah national board, which held its annual midwinter meeting in Jerusalem last week.
Dinitz, chairman of the WZO and Jewish Agency Executive, said there were clear signs of a thaw in Soviet-Israeli relations, and that he expects many more Soviet Jews to be allowed to leave the USSR this year.
But Nudel, who waited nearly 20 years for an exit visa, was less sanguine.
“Gorbachev needs American food and technology. When he gets what he needs, your children and grandchildren will still have to fight” for Soviet Jews’ human rights, she said.
Nudel accepted the Henrietta Szold Award, Hadassah’s highest honor and named for its founder, which was awarded to her in absentia in 1981.
A highlight of the gathering occurred on Jan. 26, when the national president of Hadassah, Carmela Efros Kalmanson, presented a check for $100,000 to Moshe Rivlin, chairman of the Jewsh National Fund.
It was the highest contribution received to date by the JNF in its “tree for a tree” campaign.
The campaign is to help replace thousands of trees destroyed by Arab arsonists last summer in JNF forests.