Monsey Memories: The Rockland County Committee for Soviet Jewry
By: Yitzy Fried
The early 1970’s found a powerful movement of young Orthodox Jews to free Soviet Jewry from the terrible oppression that they were living with under the Communist regime. The movement held many demonstrations throughout New York, and many chapters cropped up throughout Jewish communities, as they identified with the pain of their brethren in Russia.
Rockland County was no different, and the Rockland County Committee for Soviet Jewry
On January 4, 1971, we find the following article in the New York Times: “Demonstrations protesting suppression of the cultural and spiritual rights of Jews in Soviet Union were staged yesterday at Soviet mission to the United Nations on East 67th Street and at a Glen Cove, L.I., estate used by the Soviet mission.
“The police estimated that 5,000 people attended a rally at the Roosevelt Field Shopping Center in Garden City to pro test harsh sentences against 11 persons convicted in Leningrad on charges of plotting to hijack a Soviet airliner. The demonstrators then traveled by motor cade to the Glen Cove estate to continue their protest. The Long Island Committee for Soviet Jewry organized the demonstration.
“Earlier, about 400 members of the Rockland County Committee for Soviet Jewry demonstrated near ‘the United Nations Assembly building and then went by car to the Soviet mission. Soviet officials there refused to accept a petition of protest.”
March 16 found another demonstration, an all-night vigil, by this group. “Morris B. Abram, a former member of the United Nations Human Rights Commission will speak... the procession will go from the Hillcrest Shopping Center to the Jewish Community Center here.”
Finally, the Journal News reports on December 22, 1970, about “letters of Mercy” sent to Russian Jews from Rockland County, along with a photo of activists at the post office:
Rabbi Hillel Friedman posts several hundred lettes at Spring Valley Post Office destined for the Soviet Union. The letters, which are being accepted by Postmaster Bernadt S. Oolie and John Murdock, postal clerk, are addressed to relatives of Leningrad Jews now being tried in the Soviet Union for attempting to emigrate to Israel. The action was sponsored by Rockland County Committee for Soviet Jewry.
Thus, this chapter in Rockland County history is one of valiant fighting for the cause of Yidden across the world whom these kids never met—but the brotherly love bridged Russia and Rockland.