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April 21, 1989 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-04-21

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Continued from Page 6



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economic hardships en-
countered by the immigrants.
This cynical document con-
tributed to the death of
thousands of Jews who could
have been otherwise saved
from the ovens of the Nazi
concentration camps.
In a Jewish Welfare Federa-
tion letter called "Passage to
Freedom — A Campaign for
Soviet Jewry," the authors
wrote the following: "We don't
insist upon their going to
Israel because it is unfair to
them and not in Israel's best
interest. The Jewish State is
beset with many problems; to
accept thousands of im-
migrants who seek to live
elsewhere can only drain
Israel's limited resources."
It surely reminds me of the
British White Paper.
"Simultaneously a cam-
paign is going on to grant
Jewish immigrants from the
USSR who are holding visas
to Israel the status of refugees
and provide $75,000,000 for
their resettlement outside of
Israel:" Not only is the term
"refugee' misapplied here, but
the "quote" above is full of in-
accuracies and lies. Is
"Passage to Freedom" rather
a passage of the "New White
Paper" perpetrated by some
Jews themselves?
Israel is a modern, pro-
gressive industrial coun-
try with the finest univer-
sities, research institutions,
public health care (for all
citizens), modern housing
facilities and highest employ-
ment opportunities.
Is an Israeli visa a passage
to a refugee status? Or maybe
a mistake was made by the

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FRIDAY, APRIL 21, 1989


Soviet Immigrants
Are Participating

Hurrahs go to the New
World Club of the senior adult
Soviet Jewish immigrant
community in our area for
being the first to respond to
the emergency Passage to
Freedom campaign launched
at the annual Allied Jewish
Campaign closing.
Unfortunately, I don't think
the significance of this act
reached the majority of those
in attendance. I think its
message should be touted
loud and clear to the entire
community: our Soviet
Jewish brethren residing
among us do care!
They have been quiet con-
tributors to the Campaign in
the past, but felt so strongly
about the Passage to Freedom
campaign that they did
something unheard of, given
their cultural backgrounds.

They stood up and were
counted among the Jewish
people in front of the entire
This overt identification
with the Jewish community
would not have been possible
in the Soviet Union and, had
it been attempted, might
have led to arrest by the KGB.
Our community has been
quick to criticize the seeming
lack of involvement and lack
of commitment to Jewish
causes exhibited by the Soviet
Jewish immigrant population
here in Detroit. How can they
become involved in
something they don't unders-
tand? There are sufficient
cultural differences to
preclude participation
without education first.
Judaism, what little could
be practiced, was a negative
factor in their lives — it
always meant trouble. We
can't expect them to change
overnight. The Soviet govern-
ment has wiped out almost
all traces of Judaic tradition,
especially among the younger
Voluntarism for anything
not directly related to one's
immediate family is unheard
of in the Soviet Union. Yet,
not only are Soviet Jews
working as volunteers for
Jewish Family Service, but a
Soviet Jewish division of the
Allied Jewish Campaign has
been formed which will take
an active part not only in the
special Passage to Freedom
campaign but will be an ongo-
ing division.
The immigrants, par-
ticularly those who have
come in the last year and a
half, are very uncomfortable
being on the receiving end of
community support. They
want to pay back the com-
munity and reciprocate in
any way they can.
Please help these wonderful
people learn to be Jewish =
they want this — for
themselves and for their
children. Remember, had our
parents or grandparents not
come to America when they
did, we could be new Soviet
Jewish immigrants, and they
could be us.

Joanna Berger
English Language Department
Jewish Community Center

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