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May 31, 1985 - Image 20

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-05-31

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

20

THE biETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Friday, May 31, 1985

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Continued from preceding page

data processing from foreign lit-
erature.
"So, even when desperate par-
ents are forced by the ugly and
inhuman circumstances to make
a decision to part with their
only child, they achieve nothing,
as it is beyond their ability to
change this ugly situation."

I ou cannot tell me any-
thing that can disappoint me,"
Abram said. "And I will not be
telling you anything I have not
already said to the authorities
to their faces," he added.
Abram is a compact, hand-
some man with a well-trimmed,
gray-streaked dark beard, the
kind of beard Rabbi Berlin calls
"a good stroking beard."
Abram has published about 60
papers on mathematics in the
so-called "open" scientific press.
It soon becomes clear that his
work is the first priority. He
works hard at keeping contacts
with fellow professionals around
the world and has an elaborate
system of letters — about 70
percent of his mail gets through,
he estimates — and telephone
callers keeping him in touch
with developments. He recog-
nizes the name of a British
mathematician I know, identify-
ing his field, biological statis-
tics, immediately.
It is not that Abram and his
wife Svetlana are less cordial
than the other refuseniks we
have met — they are just as
warm and friendly. But they are
very experienced. They have
perfected their communications
strategies, they are "professional
refuseniks." Visitors come to see
them about once every two
months. The former president of
Israel, at a conference in the
Soviet Union, had been barred
from making such a contact.
Still, it was important that he
was seen to try, important that
the world observed the Soviets
blocking his path, Abram said.
We mention that a group of
Americans had been stopped
and held outsde a refusenik's
apartment in Leningrad a few
weeks earlier by KGB agents.
It might happen, Abram con-
ceded. "If so," he instructs us,
"you must be firm. Stand up for
yourself. Don't panic. Don't cave
in to them. You are doing noth-
ing wrong."
Abram asks for a few mo-
ments of my husband's time,
taking him aside to look over a
highly technical paper he has
written in English. He wants
the grammar and punctuation
double-checked. He does not ask
us even to consider taking the
document out for him.
Svetlana, meanwhile, shows
us the needlework she has been
learning to do. Her daughter,
Clara, 15, suffers from bronchial
asthma, and Svetlana had had
to give up her job as a computer
teacher. Now that Clara was
managing better, Svetlana
hoped to return to her work.
The sweaters, scarves and
squares she had knitted and
crocheted were exceptional.
Someone had given her a Vogue
knitting magazine, but she

didn't have enough wool to com-
plete any project it directed. In-
stead, she had improvised with
what she had. The results were
remarkable, original, very at-
tractive. Svetlana didn't men-
tion the possibility of selling her
handwork.
The family still worries about
Clara's health. They still don't
understand why the son, Vadim,
was dismissed from his institute
after hospitalization for bleeding
ulcers. Except possibly out of
malice against his father. He
works at a computer center now.
Abram, who held onto his
position at the Soviet Academy
of Science when he was able to
demonstrate before a peer re-
view panel that his work had no

"Don't call me a
Russian," Misha
insists gently but
firmly. "A Jew, a
Soviet Jew if you
must, but I am no
Russian."

possible application to state
secrets, dreams of someday
working at the Weizmann Insti-
tute in Israel. He has received
scores of invitations to attend
scientific meetings outside the
Soviet Union. He has never
been permitted to attend. He
has been refused permission to
emigrate to Israel repeatedly
since he first applied in January
1976.
He's still trying.

t first Pasha was not sure
that he wanted to see us on
Purim. He suggested over the
telephone that we visit the next
afternoon.
"But it's Purim," Rabbi Berlin
said.
Pash understood. His English
is not as firm as his Russian, or
his fluent Hebrew, but he un-
derstood.
Yes, he would meet us, and he `I
would lead us.
Lead us?
"I think we're going to a
<
Purim party," Rabbi Berlin said.
The metro stop was the last
on the longest line. Then there
was a long walk over snow and
ice-covered paths into a large
apartment complex. We rode up
by by threes in a small, rickety
elevator to the seventh floor.
- "Welcome! Welcome!" Vla-
dimir cried out to us, showing
us into his apartment. There,
women were carrying plate after
plate of food to the L-shaped
combination of tables that had
been set up in the sitting room.
Twenty-two of us crowded
around the heavily-laden tables
to hear Pasha read the megilla
in Russian.
"Does he have to read every
word of it?" complained Ora,
Vladimir's 18-year-old daughter,
who had been seated next to me
because her English is good.
Norma Berlin teased Ora about

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