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200,000 March in Solidarity with Soviet Jewry; Urge Nixon to Help

May 1, 1972
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

An estimated 200,000 people today expressed solidarity with Soviet Jewry and called on President Nixon to utilize his trip to Moscow to help Soviet Jews achieve their right to live as Jews or to emigrate to Israel and elsewhere. The event was the National Solidarity Day for Soviet Jewry which in New York was coordinated by the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry.

Carrying banners stating, “Mr. Nixon – Intervene for Soviet Jews,” “Save the Russian Jews.” and “Let My People Go,” the participants marched from the assembly point at 68th Street and Fifth Avenue to the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza opposite the United Nations where a mass rally was held. Three hours after the march began, police reported that people were backed up all the way to the assembly point. (Similar demonstrations took place in 100 cities across the nation. Full details of these rallies will be reported in tomorrow’s News Bulletin.)

While these events were taking place, Jews in the Soviet Union, many of whom are under threat of police action, held vigils and began hunger strikes to coincide with the rallies in this country. Jerry Goodman, executive director of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, the organization which sponsored Solidarity Day, announced that messages had been received from Jews in the USSR expressing their “determination to continue the struggle for human rights.”

Marching at the head of the parade here were three Russian Jewish women whose relatives are presently in Soviet labor camps, Boris Kochubievsky, Sen. Jacob K. Javits (P.N.Y.), all the Borough Presidents, many New York Congressmen, City Council members and state and local officials. Mayor John V. Lindsay declared today National Solidarity Day.

Kochubievsky, who in 1967 was among the first Soviet Jews to demonstrate for freedom, said that the German holocaust began when the Jews were thrown into prison camps, just as is happening today in the Soviet Union. Speaking in Russian, with the aid of a translator, the Jewish freedom fighter declared that “the Soviets use the most refined methods of barbarism – life in prison camps leads to insanity and suicide.” Kochubievsky, who recently emigrated to Israel after spending three years in a Soviet labor camp, expressed the hope that Nixon would discuss the plight of Soviet Jewry during his summit conference. “Tomorrow may be too late,” he said, “we cannot let the holocaust be repeated.”


Katya Palatnik, Serafima Kaminsky and Mindl Veinger urged Americans – Jews and non-Jews – to stand together with their brethren in Russia in demanding the freedom of the Jewish prisoners of conscience. Rabbi Gilbert Klaperman, chairman of the NYCSJ, said: “We have just completed part of the long march through Jewish history. Our men, women, and children have marched today to tell the world that our people’s present oppression in the Soviet Union must come to an end.”

Javits stressed the importance of demonstrations and protest marches such as today’s and urged Jews to support the United Jewish Appeal in providing Israel with the needed funds for settling the Russian immigrants. Citing the emigration of 13,000 Jews last year and the anticipated emigration this year, Javits expressed the belief that “protest works.” Continuing, he said “I am satisfied, deeply convinced, that President Nixon will have the subject of freeing Soviet Jews on his agenda at the summit conference.” His statement was greeted with thunderous ovation and applause.

A group of young people from the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, dressed in prison clothes to represent the Soviet-Jewish prisoners of conscience, danced to music with their arms around each other’s shoulders, to symbolize the overwhelming mood of the demonstration–one of protest, action and solidarity.


According to Richard Maass, chairman of the NCSJ, expressions of supportive demonstrations were reported from England. Australia, Israel and the World Union of Jewish Students. In a statement Maass declared: “The knowledge that as we in New York were joining together to demonstrate solidarity, the rest of the nation. Soviet Jews, and people in other countries were also focusing on the problems of Soviet Jewry, was overwhelming and encouraging. I am more certain than ever that our voices will not go unheeded, and that the Soviet Union will bend in light of such an unusual display of unanimity.”

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