Special memorial prayers for six Syrian Jews–four women and two men–murdered last month were offered yesterday by Chicago-area congregations during traditional Yiskor (memorial) services, at the urging of the Chicago Board of Rabbis and the Chicago Rabbinical Council. Prayers were also said for the welfare of 4500 Jews in Syria, remnants of a community numbering 40.000 in 1947, most of whom have fled to other lands. The services were part of a national effort to call attention to the plight of Syrian Jewry. Local efforts were coordinated by the Public Affairs Committee of the Jewish United Fund.
The four dead women were murdered on or about March 4 after participating in a peaceful Christian-Jewish demonstration against governmental anti-Semitism. The bodies of the men were found a week later. Syria claims the women’s bodies were found near the Lebanon border and implied the women were attempting to cross the border-a right denied Syrian Jews. The French daily, Figaro, said the bodies were found in Damascus. Syrian authorities allege that two Jews, now held prisoner, responsible members of the local Jewish community, are part of a band of assassins responsible for the slayings of the four women.
“The murders and the attempt of the Syrian government to throw suspicion for them on members of the Jewish community raises deep fears for the safety of Syria’s remaining Jewish population,” said Maynard I. Wishner, chairman of JUF’s Public Affairs Committee. The persecution of Syrian Jews has been the subject of many protests to Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations. Haissam Kelani. UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim has been asked to intercede in behalf of Syrian Jews by Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban. So far, the requests and protests have been ignored, Wishner said.
RALLY SCHEDULED IN NEW YORK
On Wednesday an emergency rally for Syrian Jews will be held in front of the Syrian Mission to the United Nations from noon to 1 pm. It will be conducted as a memorial services for the four murdered Jewish women. The event is sponsored by the Committee for the Rescue of Syrian Jewry with the cooperation of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the American Sephardi Federation, the American Jewish Committee and the Committee of Concern, which is a non-sectarian group seeking to alleviate the plight of minorities in Arab countries.
Rabbi Israel Miller, chairman of the Presidents’ Conference and chairman of the event, said that in addition to memorializing the four women, they are seeking: “a fair trial for the two Jewish men accused by the Syrian authorities of killing the women–an obviously trumped up charge–and, the right of the remaining 4500 Jews to leave Syria, where they live under harsh, restrictive regulations tantamount to house-arrest.”
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.