Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Interfaith Delegation Protests Conditions of Soviet Jews

January 19, 1973
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Five local clergymen and a nun representing the Philadelphia area’s major faiths met Wednesday morning at the docking berth of the Russian ship “Novogrudok” in an attempt to present to the ship’s captain a letter protesting the Soviet Union’s treatment of Jews. The letter, translated into Russian, protested the “American subsidies of trade with a Soviet government which places on the head of its Jewish citizens an extortionate exit tax.”

Organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council, the project was aimed at the first Soviet cargo ship to dock here since 1948. The six did not succeed in boarding the ship, because of security guards, but they did leave their letter and statement with the ship’s transfer agent, who promised to deliver it to the captain.

Taking part were: Rev. Rufus Cornelson, executive director of the Metropolitan Christian Council; Rev. Donald Clifford, professor of theology at St. Joseph’s College; Rabbi Maurice Corson, of JCRC; Rev. Richard Firster, director of Judeo-Christian Relations for the American Baptist Churches of Pennsylvania and Delaware; Rabbi Harold Goldfarb, executive director of the Philadelphia Board of Rabbis; and Sister Regina Ryan, ecumenical liaison for the national staff of Opportunities Industrialization Center.-

“We’re here to ask the Soviet captain and crew to take a message back to their government.” Rabbi Conson told the press. “We want the Soviets to know that not only does the Jewish community of Philadelphia deplore their treatment of Jews, but so do these important representatives of the Catholic and Protestant faiths.”

In their statement, the six criticized the upcoming trial of Lazar Lubarsky, 45-year-old engineer from Rostov, who could receive up to five years for “slandering the Soviet system.” The six also said they will urge U.S. Senators and Congressmen to vote for the Jackson amendment, which is scheduled to be reintroduced this term. The amendment to a trade bill would deny the USSR most favored nation status until the education tax is lifted.

Recommended from JTA