Rabbi asks Obama to repeal Jackson-Vanik


MOSCOW (JTA) — The chief rabbi of Kazakhstan asked officials from the Obama administration to repeal the Jackson-Vanik amendment. 

Yeshaya Cohen, a Chabad emissary who serves as the head rabbi in the former Soviet republic, met Friday with administration officials in Washington and asked them to cancel the Soviet-era trade restriction.

Adopted in 1974, the Jackson-Vanik amendment was meant to target countries that made it difficult for Jews and others to emigrate.

"When things were bad for us, we knocked on every door, and the United States heard us," Cohen said in the meeting, according to a transcript provided by the Kazakhstan Embassy in Washington. "Today we feel at home in Kazakhstan, and we appeal to our American partners and the new administration to resolve this issue by withdrawing the amendment for Kazakhstan."

The amendment is still in force for many countries of the former Soviet Union, including Russia. It prevents normal trade relations with targeted countries, but relations have continued under waivers that require a review process.

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