Devout, courageous Jews are stimulating a major revival of concern for religious liberty.
The immediate focus is the plight of Jews in the Soviet Union. Their activities have been restricted for many years, but the issue has been coming to a head only recently. Many want to emigrate to Israel. Soviet authorities have frowned on this but have let a few go.
The latest event interpreted by Jews as repression was a trial in May of four Jews in Riga, Latvia. They were found guilty of anti-Soviet activity and sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to three years.
The trial provided Exhibit A for a crusading Jewess, Mrs. Rivka Alexandrovich, 47, who has crisscrossed the Western world in recent weeks to call public attention to Soviet persecution of those who take their Judaism seriously. Her 23-year-old daughter was one of the Riga defendants. “The only crime is that Ruth is Jewish,” said Mrs. Alexandrovich, who taught English in Riga for twenty-five years and was allowed to emigrate to Israel with an 18-year-old son only a few weeks ago. Ruth, a nurse, has been in jail since last October. At the trial in May she was given a one-year term. Her father has remained behind with her in the Soviet Union.
Pleas like those of Mrs. Alexandrovich are arousing the interest of many who heretofore have thought that religious persecution existed almost exclusively in the minds of right-wing nuts. They are also putting ecumenists on the spot, obliging them to speak up on the denial of religious freedom in many Communist countries. Thus far, the ecumenical movement has been promoting the kind of dialogue with Communists that sweeps such unpleasantries under diplomatic rugs.
Mrs. Alexandrovich has appeared on a number of television shows in the ...1
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