Special to the JTA the 3 Jews Among the Former 52 U.S. Hostages to Hold Their First Sabbath Services
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Special to the JTA the 3 Jews Among the Former 52 U.S. Hostages to Hold Their First Sabbath Services

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The three Jews among the 52 former American hostages released from Iran Tuesday are receiving spiritual ministration from a U.S. Air Force chaplain who will conduct their first Sabbath services in over 14 months in Wiesbaden, West Germany tomorrow night.

According to the National Jewish Welfare Board in New York, Rabbi Joel Schwartzman, who is stationed at the Ramstein Air Force Base, flew to Wiesbaden to meet the returnees who landed there in the early hours yesterday morning.

The Jewish returnees are Barry Rosen, 36, of Brooklyn, N. Y.; Jerry Plotkin, 45, of Sherman Oaks, Calif.; and Malcolm Kalp, 42, of Fairfax, Va. Schwartzman described his meeting with them in a telephone call today to Rabbi Joseph Messing, director of the JWB’s Armed Forces, Veterans Services and Jewish Chaplaincy commissions who sent him on his mission.


His first act was to give the three men the JWB’s prayer book and Bible, a necklace with a Star of David and the JWB’s chaplaincy badge which also bears a Star of David. “All three men are wearing the JWB necklace and Rosen is proudly wearing the chaplaincy badge,” Schwartzman reported.

He said that he would join a Protestant minister and a Catholic priest tonight in an ecumenical service for all of the returnees and would conduct Friday night service for Rosen, Plotkin and Kalp and for Jewish military personnel stationed in Wiesbaden.

Rosen, who was Press Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Teheran when it was seized by student revolutionaries Nov. 4, 1979, had served with the Peace Corps in Iran in the 1960s. The Iranian militants had referred to him as “a famous spy and plotter.”

Plotkin, a businessman on his first trip outside of the U.S., arrived in Teheran in October, 1979 seeking business opportunities and chanced to be in the U.S. Embassy when it was seized. He was born in New York and has lived in California for the past 18 years.

Kalp’s duties at the Embassy are unknown. The militants accused him of being a CIA agent. He had served in Vietnam. He told his brother by telephone after landing at Wiesbaden that because of repeated attempts to escape, he was beaten by his captors, kept in solitary confinement for five months and denied mail from home.

Many of the former hostages suffered maltreatment at the hands of the Iranians but none apparently was singled out because of his Jewish origin. Schwartzman, a Reform rabbi from Cincinnati, is one of 55 Jewish chaplains stationed at U.S. military, naval and air bases all over the world, the JWB said.

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