The House Committee on Un-American Activities today summoned Rabbi Abraham Bick of New York to testify whether he writes for Communist newspapers, whether he attended the Communist-sponsored peace conferences in 1951 in Prague or in 1952 in Vienna, and whether he was a member of the Communist Party. Rabbi Bick invoked the fifth amendment 73 times during his testimony today.
Two members of the House Committee urged referral of his testimony to the Justice Department with a view to prosecution for perjury. Rep. Gordon H. Scherer, Ohio Republican, suggested that perjury charges be brought against the rabbi. Rep. Scherer said it was “a clear case of perjury,” referring to Rabbi Bick’s statements about losing his passport when he attempted to go to Canada in 1953.
The perjury charges arose from Rabbi Bick’s statement to the committee that his passport was picked up at the Canadian border. A Committee official, however, displayed a photostat of what he described as an affidavit filed by the rabbi with the State Department October 13, 1955, claiming his passport was lost on his way back to New York. Rabbi Bick identified the document and said. “I wrote either it was lost or you have it, please send it back to me.”
The rabbi told the Committee he was an ordained rabbi but did not have a synagogue since he resigned in 1949. He was asked if he resigned under “persuasion.” “No, I did not,” he replied, “I wanted to write books.” Committee chairman Francis E. Walter, Pennsylvania Democrat, asked if he had obtained a visa to Austria in 1952 from a “Communist apparatus in Paris.” Rabbi Bick refused to answer.
Rabbi Bick used the Fifth Amendment against possible self-incrimination when asked if he was bound for a Communist caucus in Canada when his passport was confiscated. He maintained that his application for another passport was pending.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.