Many young people in Israel, Russia and the "West" today have never heard of the Soviet Jewry Campaign and know little about the harsh realities of life in the totalitarian USSR for those Jews who created and led the movement for their personal and collective dignity as Jews and their right to emigrate to Israel - to go on Aliyah.

Fired by the Israeli victory in the Six Day War in 1967, it all began as a trickle of unconnected groups of families, students and professionals with relatives in Israel who issued an affidavit on their behalf, applied for a visa to join their families in Israel. Those who were allowed to leave were but the tip of the iceberg of Soviet Jewry; many languished for years, but resolved to act from the tip of another iceberg – one that would thaw only when the gates opened.

40 Years On

We ask that educators and students reflect on the people who made history through their valour, and those who took up their cause on campuses and in Jewish groups before anyone took it seriously, as well as those who followed and created the mass movement.

We also wish to offer insights on the nature of the Soviet Jewry as a cause: how it sparked a mass revolution in Jewish circles, public life, and internationally – both for the Soviet Jewish themselves and in the West. Indeed, in the free world, activists worldwide often quote the Soviet Jewry Campaign as the archetype grass-roots campaign that fired the public imagination in the Jewish community, the Human Rights' community, and the political sphere.

We also take this opportunity to acknowledge the steadfast commitment to Israel, Jewish life, and their fellow Jews, of Soviet Jewish activists, who made tremendous sacrifices as part of this movement, as well as that of their counterparts from Jewish, scientific, juridical, and political communities, who campaigned for their release.

If you, or your family were part of this history and can provide additional materials, we would be pleased to hear from you.

The Editors:
Igal Lapidus, Gila Ansell Brauner, Dina Goldman and Irena Chornaya.

This thematic curricular collection of original and linked resources about the Soviet Jewish Aliyah Movement and the Soviet Jewry Campaign has been designed so that Jewish communities, students, activists and educational institutions will be able to mark this important anniversary in a meaningful way. It is designed specifically to convey the unprecedented courage of the Refuseniks and Prisoners of Zion who were at the very centre of this movement and the unique, wider, and momentous significance of this struggle and its achievements - both within the USSR and at the international level.

We have created parallel collections in three languages: English, Russian and Hebrew, offering resources from the Jewish Agency website, its partner sites, and links to websites worldwide. Broadly speaking, they are grouped into Interviews, Visual Resources, Background Resources, and Bibliography, with internal cross-referencing as relevant. However, the Background Resources also act as the curricular hub for this series, in terms of the educational process.

We begin with a few websites that are already offering major resources in this area and we build up the picture in parallel, contextually and historically.

1. From a conceptual introduction to Aliyah and Zionism, we move to a historical overview, in order to set the stage for a better understanding of the issues involved.

2. This is followed by a section of resources providing a more detailed history of the Jews in Russia, the Soviet Union and modern Russia, into the early 1990s.

3. There is, naturally, a special section dedicated to the history of the Soviet Jewish Aliyah movement and resources that address the life of the Refuseniks and Prisoners of Zion, their protests and activisim in Jewish education, Aliyah activism, and teaching the Hebrew language.

A deeper insight into their struggle is provided by:
 4. A focus on the lives of several Prisoners of Zion and Refuseniks, with full or condensed biographies and resource collections;

 5. A special highlight is a collection of 7 original interviews with former Refuseniks, Prisoners of Zion, and professionals and volunteers involved in either the Soviet Jewry Campaign or the Aliyah process itself.

6. Separate coverage is given to three other areas of the massive Soviet Jewry campaign:

  • in Israel;
  • in Jewish communities around the world;
  • and (through them) to the work of statesmen, jurists and scientists of international standing on behalf of Soviet Jewish Refuseniks and Prisoners of Zion.
    In Russian and Hebrew, the separation is slightly different.


A Project of the eLearning and Resource Division, The Department for Jewish Zionist Education,The Jewish Agency for Israel (C)

Project Manager, Russian Editor: Igal Lapidus

Resource Editors & Producers: Igal Lapidus, Gila Ansell Brauner, Irena Chornaya

Interviewer & Presenter: Dina Goldman

Interviewees: Schlomo Balsam, MK Yuli Edelstein, Binyamin Bogomolny, Dov Kontorer, Lev Shogolev, Benny Lidsky, Gila Ansell-Brauner, Louis Rosenblum, Leonid Lenrner, Asher Uljamperl, Dyonna Ginsburg, Margalit Kavenstock

Visual Exhibits loaned by: (C): Schlomo Balsam, Gila Ansell Brauner

Graphic Design: Liza Barnea

Web Design: Esther Carciente

Acknowledgements: Serah Beizer, Gilat Inbal, Abba Taratuta, Victor Fulmacht.

Louis Rosenblum for excerpts from: Involvement in the Soviet Jewry Movement ©

Acknowledgements for the chapter Anti-Semitism in Mathematics and Soviet Jewish Response


© World Scientific, 2005

© Journal MatProsvescheniye (Prof.M.Vyaliy)

© Vesty

© Jewish National University Library at the Hebrew U

niversity of
  • Slavik V. Jablan
  • Prof. Dmitry Fuchs
  • Dr. Roman Kris
  • Dr. Pua
  • Prof. Andrey Reznikov
  • Prof. Alexander Shen
  • Prof. Mikhail Shifman
  • Irina Solganik
  • Prof. Andrey Zelevinsky




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19 Sep 2007 / 7 Tishrei 5768 0