U.S. Women Show Solidarity With Soviet Refuseniks

A new organization, the Rabbinical Assembly Wives for Refusenik Women, held a conference call early this year with a women’s support group in Moscow, called Jewish Women for Emigration and Survival in Refusal.

On the Moscow end of the line was Judith Ratner, who with her husband Leonid Bialy and their sons Alexander and Mikhail first filed for emigration to Israel in October, 1977. Ratner and her family have made aliyah since the call.

The women hope to draw attention to such cases as that of Polina Gaicinskaya, a 19-yearold Moscow resident who was granted an exit visa early this year, and whose mother Leona’s application was denied the next day. Leona, now a member of the Moscow women’s group, was fired from her job six months ago.

Meanwhile, in New York, the leaders of Na’amat U.S.A. gathered on International Women’s Day March 8, to fast in solidarity with the Soviet Jewish Women Against Refusal, a group of refuseniks the majority of whom have been waiting for at least ten years for permission to leave the Soviet Union.

One refusenik, Yuli Kosharovsky, who first applied to leave the Soviet Union 17 years ago in March, began a hunger strike on March 9 in hopes of being granted an exit visa. His wife, Inna, started a hunger strike three days earlier, along with the 130 women refuseniks in Moscow and Leningrad.

Members of Na’amat Israel also fasted in solidarity with the Soviet action, which followed on the heels of an emigration protest in Moscow, where at least 30 Soviet Jews demonstrated for exit visas at the Lenin Library. One protester was beaten by police, and the others were taken away from the area by bus.

The demonstration was reportedly part of a plan by refuseniks in Moscow to gather each Thursday at the Moscow landmark.

The Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry reports that Soviet mathematician Yuri Rudin of Moscow also began a hunger strike in March to protest the Soviet government’s refusal to grant an exit visa to his daughter and son-in-law. Professor Rudin and his wife Elena were given permission to leave, but they refuse to leave without their children, and their own visas are in danger of expiring.

Elena Rudin addressed an appeal for support from “all women of the world” to help the family’s cause by contacting Soviet Foreign Minister Edward Shevardnadze at the Soviet Embassy, 1 Andre Sakharov Plaza, Washington, D.C. 20036.