Inquiries at the Soviet Embassy here today regarding what action, if any, was planned by Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin in connection with several Congressional appeals to permit Soviet Jews to secure matzohs for Passover were politely but firmly turned aside.
A spokesman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he knows “what has been done with the requests, but I cannot say. ” Pressed for some indication of how the newly named Soviet envoy has handled the requests for his assistance in getting the Soviet Government to rescind its reported ban on matzohs for this Passover, the spokesman said that this was “an internal Embassy matter which could never be discussed.”
Officially, the spokesman would say only that the Embassy “has no information” on the reports published that Jews will be unable to purchase or bake matzohs. He said no such reports have appeared in the Soviet press and therefore the Embassy “has no knowledge of what is happening, He declined for the second time in three days to comment on whether Mr. Dobrynin has been in touch with the Kremlin in an effort to confirm the reports.
Meanwhile, Congressman Leonard Farbstein, acting “on humanitarian grounds as a private citizen,” appealed directly today to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to allow receipt of American-made matzohs for Soviet Jews this Passover.
The Democratic New York Congressman, in a cable to the Soviet Premier, transmitted through the Soviet Embassy here, disclaimed any desire “to engage in a long-range debate over whether Soviet citizens of the Jewish faith are completely free to pursue a religious life.” He told the Soviet leader that his sole concern was that observant Jews should have “a sufficient supply of matzohs for an appropriate and traditional observance of the Passover festival.”
Rep. Farbstein, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, stressed the need for an immediate favorable response so that the matzoh shipment would arrive in time for the start of Passover. He pointed out that the offer of help was motivated only by “the desire to enable observant Jews to cling to their religious identity.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.