WASHINGTON (Mar. 8)
Vladimir Raiz, the longest-waiting refusenik remaining in the Soviet Union, will be allowed to leave next Tuesday, Sen. Daniel Moynihan (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Benjamin Gilman (D-N.Y.) announced Thursday.
Gilman delivered the news to a rally of 250 Washington and Baltimore Jews across the street from the Soviet Embassy, where Raiz’s wife, Carmela, has been holding a vigil for five days.
Carmela Raiz has been in America for several months on a tourist visa, speaking to everybody from reporters to the president of the United States. She is here with the couple’s oldest son, Moshe, 12.
Gilman told JTA that Vladimir Raiz and the couple’s younger son, Shaul, 8, will leave for Israel with Albert Reichmann, the Toronto-based real estate magnate.
Reichmann, co-chairman of the Joint Committee for the Preservation for Jewish Culture in the Soviet Union, has been investing in Soviet business and involving himself in Jewish causes in that country.
The Raizes were first refused visas in 1972, supposedly for Vladimir’s past work. Officially, Vladimir, a mathematician who worked in biology, was refused permission to emigrate on the basis of knowledge of state secrets, but that explanation was a sham, Carmela maintained.
ASSISTANCE FROM ALGIRBAS BRAZAUSKAS
Moynihan, in his announcement, cited the assistance the Raizes have received from Algirbas Brazauskas, president of the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuania and a leader of the Lithuanian National Front.
The Raizes are from Vilnius, in Lithuania, although Vladimir and Shaul were in Moscow, where Vladimir has been attending the yeshiva established by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.
In his statement, Moynihan said the news of Vladimir Raiz’s permission “provides one more dramatic example of how the Soviet Union of Mikhail Gorbachev is undergoing a profound transformation.”
But impatience with the rate of change in the Soviet Union, coupled with fear for the lives of Soviet Jews faced with increased shows of anti-Semitism, prompted about 1,000 students to descend on Washington on Thursday, to call loudly for immediate direct flights for Soviet Jews from Moscow to Tel Aviv.
The students, mainly from Yeshiva University, carried posters and cheered repeatedly for “Direct Flights Now!” Yeshiva University cancelled classes for the day, which coincides with the Fast of Esther, and top school officials accompanied most of the student body on the five-hour bus ride to Washington.
“We demand that the Russian government stop anti-Semitism,” David Borowich of Yeshiva University told the crowd at Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House.
Rabbi Moshe Tendler, an eminent Yeshiva University teacher and Jewish biological ethicist, said, “Fifty years ago, communal leadership failed our people. Political considerations muted our voices and six-and-a-half million Jews were destroyed. We expect our president to use the leverage he has now, as Gorbachev comes to ask for help of the American people.”