March 11., Mikhail S. Gorbachev appointed General Secretary of the Communist Party. (Following the death of Brezhnev and, in quick succession, the appointment of Konstantin Chernenko and then Yuri Andropov, former KGB chief, as Premier and General Secretary of the Communist Party). Gorbachev promises a new policy of openness (Glasnost).
Israel's Prime Minster, Shimon Peres, makes a pre-Geneva summit appeal to President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, seeking free emigration for Soviet Jews.
October 11-12. The second summit meeting between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev is held in Iceland. A group of US Jewish leaders flies to Reykyavik to brief delegates. Colleagues from Israel join in parallel events, including a well attended major press briefing.
February 11. Natan Sharansky, after an early release from prison arrives in Israel.
March. Edgar Bronfman, President, World Jewish Congress and Morris. B. Abram, Chairman, National Conference on Soviet Jewry, visit Moscow in a failed effort to negotiate freedom for Jews to leave, and to practice Jewish culture and religion.
December 6. "Freedom Sunday" March on Washington, DC on the eve of the first Reagan-Gorbachev Summit Meeting in the US capital. 250,000 people participate in the largest rally ever organized in the US on behalf of a Jewish issue. The event marks the peak of the Soviet Jewry advocacy campaign in the US.
Coalition to Free Soviet Jews halts annual Solidarity Sunday demonstrations near the United Nations, in New York City.
October 1. Mikhail Gorbachev becomes President of the Soviet Union.
January. Meeting of the Conference on Security and Economic Cooperation (CSCE) in Vienna, which opened in 1986, concludes with an address by Secretary of State George Shultz addressing issues of human rights and emigration. Mikhail Gorbachev also addresses the forum. Soviet delegation approves the Final Declaration which includes the Right to Leave and the principle of family reunification.
Reflecting the profound changes unfolding in the Soviet Union, the Solomon Mikhoels Jewish Cultural Center opens in Moscow, with the help of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC or "The Joint"), a social welfare agency whose mission is to assist Jews throughout the world.
December. More than 700 Soviet Jews, from 175 non-governmental organizations, and observers from other countries, meet in Moscow at the first national conference of Soviet Jews in over 70 years.
December 10. The daily Soviet Jewry Vigil, opposite Soviet Embassy in Washington, D.C., ends after 20 years.
Nearly 182,000 Jews leave the Soviet Union for Israel; thousands of others to the United States.
December 24. Mikhail Gorbachev resigns, after an aborted anti-government coup, and is succeeded by Boris Yeltsin. The Soviet Union dissolves into independent republics.