Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
"Have you ever been to the Soviet Union?" one man replied when asked what Thursday night's dinner for Friends of the Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry was all about.
Of the 80 or so guests who gathered at the Bethesda home of Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and his wife, Janet, for buffet supper of fishwrapped broccoli, cheese souffle and a mountain of resh fruit, there were indeed a number who had been and many more who had relatives and friends now in the Soviet Union.
"It is one thing to read about it but another to go and see for yourself," he said, referring to the plight to refuseniks, Jews who have requested and been denied permission to emigrate.
Former Assistant Secretary of State John Richardson, now president of Freedom House, an organization which he described as "combatting totalitarianism of the left as well as of the right," and president of Radio Free Europe, praised the Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry for what he said were its three-old contribution: informing the public about "the reality of the Soviet regime," promtoing "world wide the causeo f human freedom," and "contributing at a simple human level to the relief of pain and suffering in the world."
He praised President Carter as a man truly interested in human rights and said he looked forward to theera of "realism tin foreign policy." The Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry, which dispenses information and encourages its members to write letters to refuseniks and Soviet and American political figures alike, is presently stirring up support for Anatoly Sharansky, a Soviet mathematician active in the Jewish immigration and human rights movement, who was arrested by the KGB.
Irene Manekofsky, chairman of the Washington Committee, called Sharansky her closest friend in the Soviet Union and listed his return to safety as a top priority of the committee in the next few weeks.
Reps. Newton Steers (R-Md.), Herb Harris (D-Va.) and Gladys Spellman (D-Md.) were present for most of the evening.