Hadassah Appeals to Soviet Women on Rights for Jewish Children
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Hadassah Appeals to Soviet Women on Rights for Jewish Children

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Hadassah, the women’s Zionist organization of America, appealed tonight to the women of the Soviet Union to use their influence to secure the right of Jewish children in the U.S.S.R. to a Jewish education and participation in Jewish cultural activity.

The appeal was made on behalf of Hadassah by Mrs. Mortimer Jacobean, national president, and sent to Mme. M.D. Ovsyannikova, editor-in-chief of Sovietskaya Zhenshchina (The Soviet Woman), the most important Soviet women’s monthly journal, published in Moscow in Russian, English, Chinese, Spanish, Lithuanian, German and French.

The Hadassah action was announced at the organization’s 51st national convention at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. More than 2,500 delegates and guests, representing Hadassah’s more than 318,000 members throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, are participating in the four-day convention, which opened yesterday and will end Wednesday afternoon.

Mrs. Jacobson announced that, in her appeal to the Soviet women, she had stated:

“We are concerned with the fate of Jewish children and youth in the Soviet Union. We realize how much the Soviet Union is doing for the well-being and education of children and youth. We know that you teach young people to respect every nationality and every culture. However, we wonder why the Jewish child is given no opportunity to learn about his own people and his own culture. He grows up knowing that he is Jewish, but nowhere in the Soviet Union can he learn about Jews and Jewry. He does not know what Hebrew letters look like and, consequently, he is unable to learn how to read or write Hebrew or Yiddish. Nowhere is he taught the most elementary aspects of the Jewish people — past and present. Nowhere can he learn about Jewish communities outside of the Soviet Union. Does this not contradict the Soviet Constitution and your publicly expressed ideas concerning fundamental rights of every nationality within the U.S.S.R.?”

The Hadassah letter pointed out that in the last Soviet population census, some 500,000 Jews declared Yiddish to be their mother tongue. “Despite this, however,” the letter stated, “no Jewish child is able to learn or read Yiddish or study the ancient history of his people.” It noted:

“We know that some injustices against the Jews have been rectified to some degree of late. Nevertheless, we appeal to you and ask you to mobilize your energies to redress the evils that still exist. Please help to see that there be no further delay in redressing the wrongs to the Jewish community in the Soviet Union and fully restoring the rights it must have.”


Tonight’s plenary session was addressed by John F. Henning, Under Secretary of Labor; Herbert J. Waters, assistant administrator for material resources of the Agency for International Development; Dr. Kalman J. Mann, director-general of the Hadassah Medical Organization in Israel; and Mrs. Irving Mack, Hadassah’s medical center committee chairman. Mrs. Siegfried Kramarsky, national chairman of the Hadassah Medical Organization Committee, presided.

Moshe Kol, world head of Youth Aliyah, international child welfare movement, told an earlier session that Youth Aliyah institutions in Israel will absorb 30,000 children from Eastern Europe, Latin American and Oriental countries within the next five years. He said: “Youth Aliyah is in need of additional facilities to accommodate Jewish children who seek admission to its institutions. Our annual budget of more than $5,000,000–of which Hadassah contributes $2,100,000 — must be increased to meet the increasing needs of Youth Aliyah. Despite the fact that lack of funds and accommodations compelled us to refuse admission to 2,000 Jewish children last year, we shall accept all the Jewish children, especially from Eastern European countries, who come to us for help. We shall take them into Youth Aliyah somehow.”

Mr. Kol said that, within the next five years, Youth Aliyah also plans to “complete its task of bringing to Israel Jewish children from North African countries.” The North African phase of Youth Aliyah’s work was begun in 1949. Since then, he said, 30,000 North African children — mostly from 12 to 16 years of age — have been brought into Youth Aliyah institutions, where they were educated and integrated into Israeli life. “Bringing these children to Israel from North Africa will stimulate the immigration of their parents to Israel,” he said.

He said that Youth Aliyah expects to take in also 3,000 children from Latin American countries during this period. Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, he said, Youth Aliyah has absorbed 1,000 young people from Latin American countries.

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