NEW YORK (May. 20)
Some 35 members of the Jewish Defense League took over today the Park East Synagogue, opposite the Soviet Mission, barricading entrances and vowing to occupy the building for three days for the purpose of holding a “liberation seder” for Soviet Jewry. They said they would not admit anyone, including the police, unless they intended to take part in the service or pray. A spokesman for the JDL said they “seized the synagogue after the rabbi and board of directors declined permission for use of the synagogue.” The JDL contended, however, “the synagogue is community property and emphasized they had no intention of disrupting or obstructing religious services. A spokesman for the synagogue could not be reached for comment. The JDL claimed its action was not similar to the interruption of services for anti-war statements last Friday at Temple Emanu-El by members of the Radical Jewish Union, a faculty-student group from Columbia University.