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N. Y. Meeting Demands Restoration of Jewish Cultural Life in Russia

January 13, 1958
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A demand that the Soviet Union “grant Soviet Jewry the freedom to live and create collectively” was voiced here today in a resolution adopted at a protest rally marking the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the Jewish cultural purge in the USSR. More than 1,500 people attended the rally, which was called by the Congress for Jewish Culture.

“Three million Jews are silent,” the resolution said, “every indication of a Jewish national life has been destroyed.” The resolution demanded of the USSR: that the Jews be given an opportunity to maintain their own literature, schools, theatres in the Yiddish language; that they be permitted to live in their own communal and cultural life, and afforded the opportunity of contact with Jews everywhere.

Principal speakers at the rally included H. Leivick, president of the Congress for Jewish Culture; Jacob Pat, executive secretary of the Jewish Labor Committee, and Mrs. Miriam Broderson, widow of Moshe Broderson, prominent poet-playwright who was imprisoned between 1950 and 1955 in the USSR. A message was received from Gov. Averell Harriman condemning the Soviet suppression of Jewish cultural and spiritual life.

Dr. Israel Goldstein, president of the American Jewish Congress, issued a statement demanding that the USSR grant its Jewish population spiritual and cultural freedom. He made the demand in connection with the 10th anniversary tomorrow of the execution of Prof. Solomon Mikhoels, founder of the Moscow Jewish State Theatre and a giant of a figure in Russian Jewish intellectual life. The attempt to wipe out Jewish cultural life in the USSR dates from Prof. Mikoels’ death.

A group of prominent American writers, in a letter to the New York Times this weekend, recalled the purge of Yiddish writers, the refusal of the current Soviet regime to permit a renaissance of Jewish culture and the existence of a quota system on Jews in education, professional and civil service fields. The letter concludes with an appeal to the USSR to release to Israel and other countries Soviet Jews. The signatories of the letter were: Saul Bellow, Leslie Fiedler, Irving Howe, Alfred Kazin, Philip Rahv, Lionel Trilling and Robert Penn Warren.

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