A group of 25 local area rabbis — Reform, Conservative and Orthodox — were arrested today during a demonstration in front of the Soviet Mission to the United Nations, as President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev were meeting in Geneva.
Rabbi Allan Meyerowitz, chairman of the Rabbirical Assembly’s Soviet Jewry Committee, said the demonstration, which lasted about 30 minutes before the police moved into the group to arrest the rabbis, was aimed at the Geneva summit meeting.
The rabbis prayed, danced and sang, and chanted that “if we cannot trust the Soviet Union to live up to the Helsinki accords, how can we trust them on any arms control agreement?” In a statement distributed at the demonstration, the rabbis declared: “We are determined to put an end to the spiritual ‘final solution’ which the Soviet Union is carrying out against its Jewish citizens.”
Meyerowitz said the demonstrators had no permit and deliberately violated a city ordinance banning demonstrations within 500 feet of an Embassy. The rabbis were taken to a local police station and booked on charges of disorderly conduct. They were released on their own recognizance for appearance in court on December 27. Meyerowitz said he organized the protest in cooperation with the New York Board of Rabbis, the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry and the Rabbinical Assembly, the association of Conservative rabbis.
In a similar action, the 3,000 delegates at the biennial convention of the United Synagogue of America held a symbolic 24-hour vigil at the Concord Hotel in Kiamesha Lake, N.Y. The Conservative movement delegates from the United States and Canada pledged to conduct a series of protests on behalf of Soviet Jews until Soviet leaders open the gates to emigration again, free the Prisoners of Conscience, and permit the teaching of Hebrew and other Jewish cultural subjects.
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.