100,000 Americans Sign Petition Urging Freedom for Soviet Jews
Menu JTA Search

100,000 Americans Sign Petition Urging Freedom for Soviet Jews

Download PDF for this date

A wheelbarrow loaded with petitions signed by 100,000 Americans urging freedom for Soviet Jews was rolled to the front door of the Soviet Mission to the United Nations today in a demonstration protesting the USSR’s failure to adhere to the principles of the Helsinki agreement. The Helsinki Accord, signed by 35 nations a year ago, committed the signators to strive to achieve a “freer flow of people and ideas” across national Judailism.

“The Soviet Union signed that agreement, but has since made a mockery of the spirit and the intent of the document by denying vast numbers of Soviet Jews their human rights and the opportunity to emigrate,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Eugene Gold, chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry. That the Soviets have failed to live up to the Helsinki agreement. Gold said, is reflected in the fact that there are over 130,000 requests for emigration which the Soviet authorities have not yet acted upon or processed.

The petition, addressed to Soviet Communist Party Secretary Leonid I. Brezhnev, calls for freeing all Jewish Prisoners of Conscience incarcerated in labor camps and prisons for their desire to leave for Israel; forbidding all existing forms of persecution of Jews, who have expressed the wish to unite with their families and their own people; and allowing the “refuseniks” to leave the Soviet Union and emigrate.

Gold was accompanied to the Soviet Mission by Bess Myerson, former New York City Commissioner of Consumer Affairs; Bronx Borough President Robert Abrams, chairman of the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry; Rev. Nathan VanderWerf, representing the National Council of Churches; Sister Rose Thering, associate professor at Seton Hall University; and Rabbi David Hill, National Council of Young Israel and NCSJ vice-president.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund