Asya Ploshchanskaya fished from her armload of papers dog-eared snapshots of her daughter and grandsons yesterday, fanning herself in the shade of a skimpy tree across the street from the Soviet Embassy while she waited for the start of the vigil on behalf of Soviet Jews.

It has been 10 years since Ploshchanskaya, who now lives in Israel, has seen her family, which now includes three great-grandsons she has never seen.

Inna Yakhot, also a Soviet emigrant to Israel, has been fighting 14 years to get her mother out of Moscow. At first, she said, Soviet authorities denied the visa because of her scientist-father's "secret work."

But her father died two years ago, and Yakhot was not allowed to return for the funeral. Her mother, now 74, applied again in April. But, Yakhot said, "she still is denied the possibility to join me in Israel because of my father's classified work."

Ploshchanskaya, Yakhot and a handful of other Russian-born Israelis involved in equally poignant struggles to get family members out of the Soviet Union added a touch of immediacy to yesterday's vigil, which linked the problems of Soviet Jewry with the ancient Jewish fast day of Tisha B'av.

Tisha B'av is the traditional Jewish observance mourning the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

In the Jewish tradition of linking ancient tragedies with more contemporary ones, the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington and the Soviet Jewry Committee observed Tisha B'av by linking the community's ongoing daily vigil on behalf of Soviet Jews with the 1952 murder by Stalinist forces of 24 poets and other Jewish intellectuals in the Soviet Union.

About 70 persons, more than half of them youngsters from the Jewish Community Center Day Camp, took part in yesterday's noon-hour vigil.

Wearing traditional fringed prayer shawls, Rabbi Jack Luxemburg of the Washington Board of Rabbis and Ira Bartfield of Jewish Community Council's Soviet Jewry Committee led the mincha prayer service. Children from the day camp read brief translated excerpts from the murdered poets' work.

"It's important to have the children here," said Rabbi Saul Grife of Mishkan Torah Congregation in Greenbelt. "They are the future."

"I just don't understand why they {the Soviets} don't let the Jews go free. We're not holding any of their people, I don't think," said Jodi Politz, 19, of Potomac, a day camp counselor.

The Soviet Israelis took time out from their round of appointments with U.S. government leaders to take part in the vigil, said Chesler Chaim, head of the Tel Aviv-based Public Council for Soviet Jewry, who also served as translator.