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July 03, 1987 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-07-03

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

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Rabbis Hear Critique
Of Soviet Situation

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14

FRIDAY, JULY 3, 1987

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Richard Shifter took a cold,
hard look at the Soviet Union
on Monday . . . and did not
like what he saw.
Shifter, assistant U.S.
secretary of state for human
rights and humanitarian af-
fairs, told the Council of Or-
thodox Rabbis dinner in
Detroit that the Soviets cut
Jewish emigration from
50,000 per year to 1,000 per
year. "Now that they have
raised it a little bit, we are
supposed to cheer."
His remarks were made at
the Westin Hotel dinner
honoring Rabbi Chaskel
Grubner's 37 years of service
to the Council of Orthodox
Rabbis. Rabbi Grubner was
honored with a kiddush cup
and plaque, and a trip .to
Israel for himself and his wife.
His son-in-law, Rabbi Yitz-
chok Sorotzkin of Cleveland,
paid tribute to Rabbi Grubner
on behalf of the family.
Shifter also lauded the rab-
bis, telling Grubner and the
audience of his recent visit to
Grubner's native Cracow. But
Cracow saddened Shifter,
because even more than the
death camps he visited at
Birkenau and Majdanek,
Cracow's absence of Jews
represented the losses of the
Holocaust.
He used the case of
Svetlana Braun, wife of
Southfield attorney Keith
Braun, to illustrate the fact
that, despite widespread
publicity, little has changed
in the Soviet Union's policies
towards its Jews. Svetlana
and Keith have been working
for her emigration for two
years since their marriage in
Moscow while he was an ex-
change student. Despite con-
stant pressure, the Brauns re-
main separated by the
Soviets.
"Denial of an exit visa for
Svetlana," he said, "is based
on the fact that her father
once held a security-sensitive
job. But he resigned from that
job nine years ago — this is
one year after the beginning
of the era known as glasnost."
Shifter said that the Soviets
were surprised by the Soviet
Jewry movement that sprang
up after the Six-Day War.
Despite the consequences of
applying for an exit visa —
loss of jobs, schooling, and en-
during anti-Semitic bias —
many Soviet Jews took the
risk because Jews were allow-
ed to leave after a year or two.
Now, in the 1980s, the wait to
emigrate has become "a long,
endless tunnel."

"Even though Gorbachev
has said that a five- to ten-
year lapse should be suffi-
cient to overcome 'security'
considerations;' Shifter said,
a Svetlana Braun is still
denied the right to emigrate
because of her father. He said
the Soviets' obvious goal is to
hold down the number of ap-
plicants "and the refuseniks
will be replaced by those too
afraid to apply."
Shifter told a Soviet joke
making the rounds. The
ultimate penalty for drunken-
ness in the Soviet Union is to
have the word "Jew" stamped
on your internal passport. "It
is not funny," Shifter said,

Continued on Page 16

Spouses Meet
With Shultz

Keith Braun met with U.S.
Secretary of State George
Shultz yesterday, the second
time in- two weeks the
Southfield man has discussed
with Shultz how to free his
wife from the Soviet Union.
Braun re-introduced himself
to Shultz at an Economic
Club reception in downtown
Detroit. Last week, Braun
spent 45 minutes with Shultz
and other "divided spouses"
in Washington. "He really
listened and asked ques-
tions;' Braun said of last
week's meeting, which lasted
15 minutes longer than
scheduled. "If I were (Soviet
Foreign Minister) Shevard-
nardze, I'd expect to be talk-
ing about this issue." Several
assistant secretaries of state,
including Richard Shifter, at-
tended the meeting with
Shultz.
The divided spouses also
met with Soviet envoys at the
Soviet Embassy in
Washington. "It wasn't nasty,
but it wasn't a pleasant ses-
sion," Braun said. "The
spouses were very ag-
gressive;' criticizing Soviet
examples of movement in
divided spouse cases as being
too long ago and too little.
Braun credited Congressman
Sander Levin and his staff for
working very hard on the
_divided spouse situation. "He
got on the phone and called
several congressmen going to
Washington and several
Soviet Jewry groups. He real-
ly went to bat for us."
Braun left yesterday to
spend 17 days in the USSR
with his wife, Svetlana.
Braun said the couple wanted
to relax, "to be renewed;' but
will also try to see Soviet of-
ficials to press their case.

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