Soviet emigres Boris and Natalia Katz and their two daughters, Jessica and Gabrielle, arrived at Logan International Airport yesterday afternoon to be reunited with family members before a crowd of well-wishers and reporters.
The Boris Katz family was able to obtain exit visas so that their daughter Jessica could receive proper medical treatment for a rare congenital digestive ailment.
Boris Katz first embraced his mother Khaika, and then his two brothers, Victor and Michail. The youngest, Michail Katz '80, is a mathematics major at Harvard, while Victor teaches mathematics at MIT. The two brothers and their mother have lived in Cambridge since 1975, when they were granted exit visas from the Soviet Union.
Boris Katz spoke briefly and emotionally to the gathering. "You have all helped us to be here today...I thank you...I love you all," he said.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy '54 (D-Mass.) came to the airport yesterday to greet the Katz family. The family was included in a list of 18 Soviet Jews permitted to emigrate which President Leonid I. Brezhnev presented Kennedy during his September Russian visit. Katz thanked Kennedy for his personal involvement in the cause of Soviet Jews.
The Soviet government had turned down the couple's previous applications to emigrate, saying they had learned state secrets as computer programmers at the Soviet Institute for Experimental Meteorology.
Khaika Landman Katz said yesterday that her son's family will stay at her apartment in Cambridge for a short time until they can find a place to live in the area. "I have waited so long to see them again. This is a very happy day for us," she said.
When it first became apparent that Jessica needed treatment outside the Soviet Union, Khaika Katz sought the assistance of Action for Soviet Jewry, Inc., a social and political activist group that promotes the emigration of Soviet Jews. They enlisted the help of Dr. Richard Feinbloom, assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.
Feinbloom tentatively diagnosed Jessica's illness as a digestive disorder and recommended the feeding of "Pregestimil" (a formula which is directly absorbed by the body) which is not sold in the Soviet Union.
For the past few months, Jessica has survived on the formula, which the Katz family obtained from American tourists. Her health has shown a definite improvement, Feinbloom said.
"Next week we will run some tests on Jessica, and judging from her present condition, it may not be necessary to hospitalize her at all," Feinbloom added. Jessica's parents are now trying to wean her off the special formula by giving her more solid food, he said.
Action for Soviet Jewry has been involved in mobilizing support for the Katzes and other oppressed Jews in Russia, Diana Appelbaum, a spokeswoman for the group, said yesterday. "We have sent thousands of letters to Brezhnev on the part of individuals being treated unfairly there," Appelbaum said. She noted the help of Kathleen "Kitty" Dukakis, wife of the governor of Massachusetts, as well as Kennedy.
Also among those given exit visas by the Soviets was Professor Benjamin Levitch, who is expected to take a teaching position offered by MIT.