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Jewish Groups Prepare ‘operation Exodus’ to Confront Soviet Delegates at Pugwash Conclave

September 2, 1970
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Soviet delegates to the Pugwash conference at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, will be confronted on Sept. 13 by the Jewish community of metropolitan Chicago in “Operation Exodus,” it was announced today by Dr. Paul Hurwitz and Mitchell Dredze, co-chairmen of the Community Council of Jewish Organizations. Dr. Hurwitz said the CCJO, representing 41 major Jewish organizations, will hold “Operation Exodus” to protest continuing persecution of Jews in the USSR. “The 18 Soviet delegates to the Pugwash conference and the other delegates as well, must be made aware of the continuing persecution of Jews by the Soviet government.” Dr. Hurwitz emphasized that the CCJO does not oppose the conference or other forms of international cooperation and cultural exchanges with the Soviet Union. “We support the conference and we welcome the foreign visitors to our country,” he stated. “We want the Soviet delegates to see how a free society operates. We invite them to meet with us and especially to see our religious and educational institutions. But we do want the delegates to know that we are deeply concerned about the fate of three million Jews in the USSR.” The theme of the Pugwash conference is “Peace and International Cooperation: A Program for the Seventies.”

The council has named its confrontation with the Soviet delegates “Operation Exodus” because the plea to the Soviet government is the same as Moses brought before Pharaoh: “Let our people go!” Mr. Dredze said. He added the council objected to four principal aspects of the persecution of Jews by the Soviet government: Refusal to allow Russian Jews to emigrate to Israel; imprisonment and torture of Jews in secret; denial of rights to operate religious schools and to have religious books and publications; and anti-Jewish campaigns in the Soviet press. “The oppressed Jews of the USSR must know that the world has not forgotten them,” Dr. Hurwitz declared. “We hope the Soviet representatives will listen to our plea and carry it home with them.” Rabbi William Frankel of the Conservative Congregation of the North Shore and vice president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis will speak at “Operation Exodus” representing the Chicago Board of Rabbis. Rabbi David Polish of Beth Emet Synagogue. Evanston, said, “The repression of Soviet Jewry is part of the world wide conspiracy to undermine the Jewish people everywhere as well as in the State of Israel. American Jews have no alternative but to recognize that an attack on Soviet Jewry is also an attack on us.” Byron Cohl of Evanston, a member of the Jewish Student Movement said that his group would be going to “Operation Exodus Pugwash.” “Once more the Jews of the world cry let our people go, But this time the American public must not be silent,” Cohl said.

Rabbi Dresner of the North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, said that he expects 200 members of his congregation to attend “Operation Exodus Pugwash.” He cited the remarkable “courage of the Russian Jews” in continuing their religion despite the fact that they have been deprived Jewish schools and institutions. “They live on our support and encouragement,” Rabbi Dresner said. Esther Rabinowitz, chairman of the Committee on Soviet Jewry of the Chicago Jewish Youth Council, said that, “We hope to have 500 hundred of our members at “Operation Exodus Pugwash.” Marty Rabinovitz of Students for Israel, said that members of his group, which includes students from six universities in the Chicago area, would be present at “Operation Exodus Pugwash.” Rabbi Ernest M. Lorge of Temple Beth Israel, Chicago, said that “Having experienced Nazi persecution I feel it is my duty to be watchful. The position of the Jews in the Soviet Union is not comparable to that of Nazi persecution but by speaking up early we hope to prevent a similar situation from developing. All the rabbis said they would urge members of their congregations to join in “Operation Exodus Pugwash.”

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