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Soviet Family Recognized in Whittier Ceremony Given Visas

September 26, 1985

Exit visas have been issued to a Soviet Jewish family featured in an article June 9 in the Southeast/Long Beach sections of The Times.

Four members of the Solovei family were among 29 Soviet Jews granted permission last month to emigrate to Israel, said Nancy Albrecht, public information director of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry. The family had waited 12 years to leave their home in Riga, Latvia, and join relatives in Israel.

Their cause had been taken up by Leann Baker, 12, of Diamond Bar. Baker, who celebrated her bat mitzvah in June at Beth Shalom synagogue in Whittier, was one of hundreds of American children who symbolically shared her coming-of-age ceremony with Diana Solovei and sent letters to the family. The procedure, known as "twinning," pairs American children with Soviet counterparts whose families have applied for permission to emigrate.

Albrecht said that the children's letters--which usually went unanswered and may have been intercepted--and publicity about the family may have contributed to the family's release.

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