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December 20, 1985 - Image 34

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-12-20

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

34

Friday, December 20, 1985 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

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Protesters against the treatment of Soviet Jews parade through
downtown Chicago.

Washington (JTA) — Five
rabbis arrested at a Soviet
Jewry demonstration last May
began a fifteen-day prison sen-
tence Friday, urging members of
the press to focus not on them
personally, but on the conditions
of Jews in the Soviet Union
which the planned arrest and
imprisonment were meant to
dramatize.
"This act will be worthwhile
only if it will generate aware-
ness and action on behalf of
Prisoners of Conscience lan-
guishing in Soviet prisons," the
rabbis said in a statement read
by Gary Fink, another rabbi ar-
rested last May. Like most of
the 23 who were convicted last
Wednesday of violating a Dis-
trict statute against demonstrat-
ing within 500 feet of an em-
bassy, Fink accepted the origi-
nal suspended 15-day prison
sentence, together with six
months unsupervised probation
and a $50 fine.
Clearly concerned that the lit-
tle media attention that has
been generated by the series of
arrests, convictions and the cur-
rent imprisonment has been di-
rected toward the Soviet Jewry
activists themselves rather than
their cause, the Jewish Commu-
nity Council of Greater Wash-
ington, where last week's press
conference was held, offered a
long statement of its own detail-
ing the nature of religious per-
secution against Jews in the
Soviet Union and only seondar-
ily making mention of the jailed
rabbis and their "effort to give
dramatic voice to the severity of
the situation facing Soviet
Jews."
Similarly, the rabbis, some of
whom had been quoted in the

press as protesting the judge's
handling of the case and what
they called unduly harsh sen-
tences and selective prosecution
— demonstrators arrested at the
South African Embassy have
not been prosecuted — urged
that the media "not write or re-
port about us,or our families of
our conditions during these fif-
teen days."
Instead, they asked them to
"focus on our oppressed brethren
in Soviet jails, their families,
and on the unbearable condi-
tions of Soviet Jews who seek to
live in freedom."
A statement by the Washing-
ton Board of Rabbis, which has
sponsored the arrest rallies at
the Soviet Embassy, called on
the Soviet Union to cease the
harrassment and persecution of
Soviet Jews, without mentioning
the ve rabbis in jail.
Following the press confer-
ence, six Chanukah dandles
were lit by Eileen Bayer and
Karen Oler, the wives of jailed
rabbis Harold Bayer and David
Oler, who dedicated each of the
six to a Jewish activist who has
been persecuted in the Soviet
Union.
President Reagan has been
urged to make a strong state-
ment in support of Soviet Jewry
by issuing a pardon to the five
rabbis. The plea, in a telegram
to the President, was made by
the Rabbinical Assembly and
the Central Conference of
American Rabbis, the Conserva-
tive and Reform rabbinical
organizations, respectively. A
similar plea was issued by the
Student Struggle for Soviet
Jewry.
At the same time, B'nai B'rith
International denounced the

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