Despite the fact that eight Moscow activists were arrested on Monday following a demonstration, Soviet Jews bravely and defiantly went ahead with their celebrations of the Festival of Purim. Some went to the Moscow Central Synagogue for the traditional reading of the story of Esther while others met in private homes.
The most poignant gathering was that of the Leviev family, Whose thoughts were concentrated on the fate of Mikhail Leviev, sitting in the death cell in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison.
Last Friday, his wife Sophia was able to see him for the first time since the end of his trial on December 8. She found him thin and ill. The prison authorities refused her permission to bring food parcels to her husband. Last week, they refused to allow Leviev to attend the funeral of his elder brother.
The central post office in Moscow refused to accept a Purim message to the people of Israel written by 80 Soviet Jews. In the message, they said: “No Hamans will break the will of our people for unification”
Earlier in the day, eight Moscow Jews were arrested after demonstrating in front of the city’s Lenin Library with banners bearing the slogans “Freedom for the prisoners of Israel” and “Visas — not prisons”. Another demonstrator, Alexander Gvinter, was released.
Those arrested included two people who were only watching —Alexander Lunts and Leonid Tsipin. They were released later in the day, together with Anatoly Shcharansky, a mathematician. The others were detained.
A Purim message from Tbilisi activist Ovsei Gelman was received by a London housewife. It expressed “our warmest feeling to the people and Government of Israel and to all our friends”.
Jewish Observer 28 February 1975