Odessa Hebrew Teacher Given Exit Visa
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Odessa Hebrew Teacher Given Exit Visa

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Yakov Mesh, a 33-year-old Jewish activist and Hebrew teacher in Odessa, has received permission to leave for Israel, the National Conference on Soviet Jewry reported today.

Mesh, who first applied to leave the Soviet Union in 1977, will go to Israel with his nine-year-old son Marat and wife Marina. Mesh’s brother and mother live in Israel.

A former boxer in the Soviet Army, Mesh has been refused permission to leave, obstensibly for “security reasons” because of his army service, the NCSJ reported. For the past year Mesh has been under pressure by local authorities and had been threatened he would be placed on trial for his activities.

Mesh has been the object of a continuing campaign, especially by Dr. Joel Levin, a plastic surgeon in Miami who has participated in boxing bouts to bring Mesh’s case to public attention.

Mesh is a friend of Yakov Levin, a Hebrew teacher in Odessa arrested and sentenced to three years in a labor camp last November as part of an intense KGB effort to destroy the unofficial Hebrew study network in the Soviet Union.

Mesh refused to testify against Levin and other Odessa Jewish activists. He was interrogated several times and beaten, suffering liver damage while in police custody, the NCSJ said.

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