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November 24, 1989 - Image 58

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-11-24

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

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FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 1989



5-8577

J.J. GOLDBERG

Special to The Jewish News

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Novelist Uris Discovers
`Unpleasantness'

American Heart
Association

WERE FIGHTING FOR YOUR LIFE

he celebrated novelist
Leon Uris is winding
up a three-city lecture
tour of the Soviet Union that,
he describes as having
"quite a bit of unpleasant-
ness surrounding it."
"I think when we get out of
the Soviet Union, we have to
take a long, second look at
what has happened," Uris
said grimly in a telephone
conversation from Moscow
recently. "I think that a lot
of the news that the
American Jewish communi-
ty is dying to hear is just not
true."
Uris, whose 1957 novel
Exodus is widely credited
with helping to spark the
post-1967 revival of Jewish
consciousness in the Soviet
Union, went to the USSR
under the sponsorship of
B'nai B'rith International.
He was accompanied by Dr.
Michael Neiditch of the
B'nai B'rith International
staff.
Uris repeatedly refused to
give details of the
"unpleasantness" he en-
countered, apparently fear-
ing surveillance. But he ac-
knowledged that reported
increases in anti-Semitism
were "absolutely" a factor in
his gloomy assessment.
He also said that during
the course of his lecture tour,
which covered Riga, Len-
ingrad and Moscow, "our
halls grew smaller and fur-
ther out of the center, for
reasons that were not clear
and probably never will be. I
think the audiences were
kept small."
At the same time, Uris
said the trip was deeply
gratifying for him personal-
ly, because of the influence
of his popular novel. For
many years, typewritten
copies of illegal translations
of Exodus were passed from
hand to hand throughout
Russia.
"It's the most tremendous
experience a writer can
undergo, to realize that his
work has been that far-
reaching," said Uris, adding
that he was "exhilarated" to
learn that his book "has
changed a lot of people's
lives."
"The accolades have been
tremendous," he said. "They
call it a 'bible' of truth -- not

J.J. Goldberg is associate
editor of The New York
Jewish World.

in a religious sense, but it's a
textbook that bridged their
isolation over the last 70
years."
In much of the Soviet
Union, said Uris, "Jewish
life has been pretty well
eradicated.' We found a lot of
intermarriage."
"We have seen a whole
range of attitudes," added
Neiditch, "ranging from ap-
prehension and fear to
extraordinary': optimism in
Riga," the capital of the
Latvian republic. "I think
that what is happening in
Riga is something the
Jewish world has got to pay
attention to."
"They seem to be estab-
lishing Jewish culture in the
Riga community," said Uris.
"We found they were
breathing a little easier."
The novelist described the
Riga Jewish community as
going through a
"revolutionizing" process,
with an active Jewish
cultural center, senior choirs
and a Jewish day school --
1 the first in the Soviet
Union -- with 400 students in
its first year.
"The most heartwarming
moment in the trip was
when we walked into the day
school and the kids got up
and sang to me in Yiddish
and Hebrew. They were very
happy, very open and very
Jewish," he said.
Uris said that after leav-
ing Moscow, he would be
visiting Poland and
Hungary, under the spon-
sorship of the United Jewish
Appeal.
Among the activities
planned for him were a visit
to Mila 18, the Warsaw
street address immortalized
in his novel of the Warsaw
Ghetto, and participation in
a ceremony in Budapest to.
mark the first legal publica-
tion of Exodus in an East-
bloc country.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Pro-PLO Israeli
Is Sentenced

Jerusalem (JTA) — An
Israeli accused of
disseminating propaganda
for a Palestinian terrorist
organization was sentenced
to 20 months in prison Tues-
day.
Michael Warshawsky, di-
rector of the Jerusalem-
based Alternative Informa-
tion Center, was arrested in
February 1987,
But Warshawsky was ac-
quitted of charges that he
was a member of the PFLP.

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