A former Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations in Geneva and an outstanding leader of the Jewish Community, Mr. Abram served as President of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, American Jewish Committee, and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations during crucial periods, visiting the Soviet Union in 1988 to meet with Soviet leaders, devoting his distinguished talents to the ongoing effort to utilize international human rights norms to safeguard the rights of Soviet Jews.
Roll of Honor
Roll of Honor
The posthumous Roll of Honor of the Archive of the American Soviet Jewry Movement is dedicated to persons of all faiths that played a leadership role in the Movement. We honor and preserve their memories so that future generations will be familiar with their achievements.
Click on a name to expand the bio.
Distinguished Professor of Law in the College of Law at Syracuse University, Professor Arzt published numerous articles on human rights in the Soviet Union and the Middle East, while serving as a consultant to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
As leader of the American Jewish Congress and pioneer in Jewish public affairs, Phil Baum was one of the first to design public demonstrations as central to the advocacy strategy on behalf of Soviet Jews.
Recognized for his work as the director of international concerns for the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, Mr. Bayer's activism was integral to the creation of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry and was active in its predecessor, the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry.
New York City's first Jewish mayor.
An executive of the Council of Jewish Federations and a lifetime civic leader and philanthropist, Philip Bernstein helped create the National Conference on Soviet Jewry in 1971.
Rabbi Bernstein served as advisor on Jewish affairs to US Army commanders in Europe during World War II, and after the war, assisted in the resettlement of hundreds of thousands of displaced European Jews, including Soviet Jews. For many years he served as Executive Vice President of the Council of Jewish Federations and was one of the major Jewish professionals active in the cause for Soviet Jewry.
The noted actor and folk singer Theodore Bikel sang and spoke at numerous rallies and demonstrations on behalf of the Soviet Jews, led thousands of activists in protest marches in Washington, D.C., and in 1971 released the iconic album "Silent No More - Jewish Underground Songs from Soviet Russia."
Founder of the first national grassroots American Soviet Jewry movement organization, Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, Jacob Birnbaum played a pivotal role in launching and leading the national movement to save Soviet Jews.
A president of the American Jewish Committee, the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights is named for him in recognition of his life-long advocacy for human rights, including significant campaigns to assist Soviet Jews in emigrating from the Soviet Union.
Former president of B'nai B'rith International, Mr. Blumberg received a brotherhood award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
During his tenure as the Washington Representative of the American Jewish Committee, Hyman Bookbinder collaborated with and advised the Washington Office of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry. "Bookie," as he was known, was an important advisor to the NCSJ as it developed the successful campaign to pass into law the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to trade legislation, linking freedom of emigration from communist countries to their securing trade benefits. Mr. Bookbinder was also central to the planning and implementation of the December 6, 1987 Mobilization for Soviet Jewry.
Mr. Brafman was a leader of various well-known Jewish organizations, including the American League for the Repatriation of Russian Jews. He was an advocate for Revisionist Zionism, which insisted upon the Jewish right to sovereignty over the whole territory of Eretz Yisrael. Brafman was the keynote speaker at the meeting at Columbia University establishing the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, led by Jacob Birnbaum.
As head of the World Jewish Congress and a billionaire philanthropist, Edgar Bronfman used his influence to increase pressure on the Soviet Union to allow Jews to emigrate.
Rabbi Emeritus of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York and an outspoken political and social activist, Rabbi Brickner and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations campaigned for freedom for Soviet Jews and others, and played a pivotal role in winning the support of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and the National Conference on Soviet Jewry to support the Jackson-Vanik Amendment.
As co- chair of Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, Mrs. Bronfman supported initiatives that strengthened the unity of the Jewish people.
Considered by many to be the foremost Jewish religious songwriter in the second half of the 20th century. Rabbi Carlebach was also a pioneer of the Baal teshuva movement ("returnees to Judaism"), encouraging Jewish youth, including Soviet Jews to re-embrace their heritage.
New York Congressman for almost 50 years, Mr. Cellar championed eliminating national origin quotas as a basis for immigration restrictions, which barred many Eastern European Jews from immigrating into the US.
As leader of the National Jewish Community Relations Council, Mr. Chernin played an important leadership role in the Soviet Jewry movement, marshalling Jewish community and national activities and writing extensively on the situation of Jews in the USSR.
Senator Church used raised global awareness about the injustices committed against Soviet Jews. His famed address to the opening session of the World Conference on Soviet Jewry was a pivotal point in the campaign against the discriminatory policies of the Soviet Union.
Associate executive director of the American Jewish Congress, Richard Cohen served as chief press officer of the three World Conferences of Jewish Communities on Soviet Jewry and authored the book Let My People Go: Today's Documentary Story of Soviet Jewry's Struggle to be Free in 1971.
As editor of the New Leader Moshe Decter published one of the first accounts of the status of Soviet Jews. He set up the Jewish Minorities Research Burea which was located at the American Jewish Congress in New York City. He later organized the Conference on the Status of Soviet Jews at the Carnegie Foundation in February of 1963.
Founder of the Human Rights Watch, Mr. DeWind defended the cause of Soviet Jews by traveling to the former USSR and reporting on Soviet violations of international human rights norms, including the Jewish community's right to emigrate.
Former Israeli Government spokesman, Mr. Dolinsky founded the Jewish Defense League, and was an ardent supporter of Soviet Jewry's right to emigrate.
A Roman Catholic Jesuit priest, lawyer, human rights activist, Democratic US Representative from Massachusetts and a law professor at Georgetown University Law Center, father Drinan was one of the founders of the National Interreligious Task Force on Soviet Jewry.
President of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Rabbi Eisendrath positioned the UAHC as a leading voice in the struggle for Soviet Jewry.
Philanthropist and advocate for social justice, Mr. Everett provided funds to aid Jewish organizations working on behalf of Soviet Jewry, including the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
As a member of the House of Representatives, and chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Farbstein sponsered numerous bills facilitating the release of the Refuseniks, and for the implemetation of human rights in Soviet policy.
Representative Fascell launched and chaired the important U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (also known as the "Helsinki Commission") to monitor action of member states under the provisions of the Helsinki Final Act.
As chair of the JCRC's Minnesota-Dakota Action Committee on Soviet Jews and an academic advisor to the National Conference on Soviet Jewry Professor Feinstein worked with a great cross-section of the Jewish community in the Upper Midwest to organize the movement on behalf of Jews in the USSR.
Member of Congress and sponsor of legislation to create the US Commision on Securiy and Cooperation in Europe, which was instrumental in forcing the US to take a more aggressive approach in monitoring human rights, especially in the USSR.
Mr. Fisher played a leading role in many major Jewish community organizations, and as a trusted advisor to the US presidents, he was instrumental in securing entry for many Soviet Jews in the 1970s. In 1989 he negotiated with the American government the quota for Soviet Jews' admission into the US.
President Ford spoke out against the USSR's discriminatory emigration policies aimed and supported the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which played a pivotal role in Soviet Jewish Emigration.
As an advisor to Senator Henry M. Jackson, Mrs. Fosdick played a major role in the development of the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which pressured the Soviet Union to allow Soviet Jews to emigrate freely.
An American-Jewish historian and a civil rights leader, Dr. Friedman was the founder and director of the Feinstein Center for American Jewish History at Temple University, and the author of publications including, "The Second Exodus: The American Movement to Free Soviet Jews".
Holocaust survivor, Mr. Frumkin was the founder of the Southern California Council for Soviet Jews and the Association of Soviet Jewish Emigres, and served on the Board of Directors of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews.
A distinguished British historian, Sir Martin Gilbert was a dedicated publicist of the international Soviet Jewry movement and a personal friend to countless Refuseniks. He authored a greatly influential book The Jews of Hope: The Plight of Soviet Jewry Today (1984).
Executive director of the National Interreligious Task Force on Soviet Jewry for over fifteen years, Sister Ann picketed Soviet embassies and petitioned leaders in Washington and the United Nations for the free emigration for Soviet Jews.
A prominent real estate developer and philanthropist, Guilford Glazer contributed generously to the cause of the Soviet Jewry movement and helped resettle Soviet Jewish refugees in the United States.
Justice Goldberg defended the cause of Soviet Jews as the US Secretary of Labor, Supreme Court Justice and Ambassador to the United Nations.
As a chair of the Coordinating Committee on Soviet Jewry, Rabbi Goldberg helped organize public demonstrations on behalf of Soviet Jewry.
He held down several key positions in Jewish life, but during his long tenure as the Executive Vice President of the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), he facilitated the departure of Jews in the Soviet Union. He was able to work out difficult administrative and inter-agency issues to accomplish this goal.
Executive director of the North American Jewish Student Mr. Goldman helped mobilize Jewish youth in America on behalf of Soviet Jews.
A celebrated philanthropist in the Omaha Jewish community, Leonard "Buddy" Goldstein assisted his wife Shirley Goldstein in creating Omaha Committee for Soviet Jewry, an organization that helped more than 100 Soviet Jewish families leave USSR and resettle in Omaha.
Shirley Goldstein created the Omaha Committee for Soviet Jewry, an organization that helped more than 100 Soviet Jewish families leave USSR and resettle in Omaha.
A distinguished Philadelphia congressman and a mentor to a generation of African-American politicians and civic leaders, William H. Gray III spoke at public rallies, and used his Congressional pulpit on behalf of Soviet Jewry, helping set a course for many of his colleagues.
Mr. Hausman donated millions of dollars to civil rights and Jewish causes. He headed the International League for the Repatriation of Russian Jews and the advisory council to the first New York State Commission on Human Rights.
As the ambassador to the Soviet Union in the late 1960's, Senator Heinz, petitioned Soviet officials to allow free emigration of Soviet Jewry.
Executive vice chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and a member of the International Steering Committee of the World Conference on Soviet Jewry, Mr. Hellman worked alongside American and Israeli officials to secure freedom for Soviet Jews.
Rabbi Hertzberg was president of the American Jewish Congress and vice president of the World Jewish Congress, which applied pressure on American politicians to aid in the struggle for Soviet Jewry.
Rabbi Heschel played a key role in the founding of the Soviet Jewry movement in the US. In the early 1960's he declared Soviet Jewry the number one priority for American Jews.
As a co-chair of the Colorado Committee of Concern for Soviet Jewry, Mrs. Hoffman devoted her efforts to mobilizing citizens on behalf of Soviet Jewry's plight, and worked tirelessly to secure the freedom of individual Refuseniks.
Vice President of the United States, Mr. Humphrey publicly advocated the release of Refuseniks, appearing at Soviet Jewry demonstrations and lending his political influence to the cause.
US Congressman and then Senator from the state of Washington, Senator Jackson sponsored the Jackson-Vanik amendment in the Senate which denied normal trade relations to countries with non-market economies that restricted freedom of emigration. The amendment was intended to help refugees, particularly Jews, emigrate from the Soviet Bloc.
As national president of Hadassah, Charlotte Jacobson's significant accomplishments in the American Soviet Jewry Movement included leading a historic mission to the Soviet Union to evaluate the condition of the Jews in 1966, and were honored by the National Conference on Soviet Jewry Solidarity Award in 1980.
Senator Javits rendered a critical service in writing the compromise wording and leading the negotiations over the Jackson-Vanik Amendment of 1974. His connections within the United States government and with the American Jewish leadership proved indispensable in aiding Soviet Jewish emigration.
As chair of the Washington Heights-Inwood Council for Soviet Jewry, Rabbi Kahn was dedicated to the cause of Soviet Jewish emigration to Israel.
As chief U.S. arms control negotiator in the Reagan administration, Mr. Kampelman played a key diplomatic role in enabling the emigration of hundreds of thousands of Jews from the Soviet Union.
As president of B'nai B'rith, Mr. Katz met with various political and religious officials to discuss remedies for Soviet Jewry's plight.
Pioneer in the movement to free Soviet Jews, Mr. Katz traveled to the USSR to meet with Refusenik families and aid them in emigrating to the US and Israel.
As founder and director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Mr. Kenen was influential in the passing of the Jackson-Vanik amendment which secured the release of thousands of Soviet dissidents and Refuseniks.
One of the earliest American politicians to take up the cause of Soviet Jewry, Senator Kennedy participated in numerous missions to Moscow, meeting with Refuseniks, bringing their concerns directly to Soviet leadership, and making their plight known internationally.
As the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy was advised and considered the situation of Soviet Jews in his diplomacy with the USSR.
Senator Kennedy persistently urged Soviet officials to liberalize treatment of Jewish citizens in the USSR.
An icon of the civil rights movement, Dr. King helped form the Conference on the Status of Soviet Jews. More than 300 distinguished American leaders participated in the conference, which concluded by issuing an "An Appeal of Conscience for the Jews of the Soviet Union" to leaders of the USSR.
US Secretary of Commerce Philip Klutznick used his political power to emphasize the depravity to which Refuseniks were subjected by Soviet officials. Apart from his political positions, he was also president of the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization, president of B'nai B'rith International, and president of the World Jewish Congress.
As a U.S. Congressman and mayor of New York City Ed Koch advocated for the freedom of Soviet Jews, supported the American Soviet Jewry movement organizations and participated in the SJM rallies, helping make New York City a major hub of the movement.
Co-founder of the American Conference on Soviet Jewry, Fabian Kolker spent 30 years advocating for Soviet Jewry, personally helping over 150 Jewish families leave Soviet Union.
An authority on human rights and long-associated with B'nai Brith, Bill Korey was author of The Soviet Cage and a leading activist on behalf of Soviet Jewry.
Chairman of the Medical Committee on Soviet Jewry, and Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry, Dr. Samuel Korman was dedicated to publicize the plight of the persecuted Jewish doctors in the Soviet Union and to help them emigrate and resettle in the United States.
Corporate attorney, Mr. Kronish was an active member of several Jewish organizations and an early activist on behalf of Jews in the former Soviet Union. As Chair of the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry, he led two missions to the USSR meeting with Refuseniks and offering friendship and financial aid.
As a chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the only Holocaust survivor ever to serve in Congress, Representative Lantos was deeply committed to the plight of Soviet Jews and championed their cause in Congress. He also made several trips to Russia to meet with the the Refuseniks and adopt their individual cases.
Holocaust survivor, Mr. Laufer was deeply involved in the campaign for the free emigration of Soviet Jewry and the resettlement of Soviet Jews in the USA.
New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg authored the Lautenberg Amendment, a legislation that identified Soviet Jewry as a persecuted religious minority and allowed some 400,000 Jews to leave USSR under extraordinary immigration privileges.
As both the driving force behind the creation of the Bay Area Council for Soviet Jewry and its director, Mr. Light orchestrated rallies, wrote articles for Jewish bulletins, and recruited volunteers to travel to the USSR to meet with fellow Soviet Jews in order to secure their release.
Pioneer in the movement on behalf of Soviet Jews, Mrs. Light was a close associate of Andrei Sakharov, Yelena Bonner and Natan Sharansky. Mrs. Light and her husband Harold Light, were the inspiration for the Harold & Selma Light Center for Human Rights Advocacy in St. Petersburg, which works to protect the rights of Soviet Jews and other minorities.
A mayor of New York City, Mr. Lindsay advocated the rights of Soviet Jews and visited Moscow to discuss Jewish emigration with Soviet officials.
A prominent New York civic leader, Judge Lowell was a chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry and a chairman of the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry.
Founding chair of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry and president of the American Jewish Committee, Richard Maass lead an international campaign to pressure the Soviet Union's Communist leaders to ease emigration barriers for Jews.
As a chair of the Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union, Ms. Manekofsky urged Congress to pass the Jackson-Vanik Amendment.
As a Democratic presidential candidate in 1972 Senator McGovern made the opression of Soviet Jewry one of the key issues of his campaign. He spoke at Soviet Jewry movement rallies, defended the Jackson-Vanik amendment and denounced the Soviet authorities for holding Jews hostages of the state with the “diploma tax.”
Senator Metzenbaum co-sponsored numerous resolutions outlining the plight of Soviet Jews. He also publicly supported the Refuseniks through speeches at rallies.
A lawyer, a social worker and the executive director of Jewish Community Council of Greater Brighton in Brooklyn, Joel Michaels spoke out against the repression of Jews in the USSR and devoted himself to the cases of individual Refuseniks.
Ally Milder was instrumental in forming the Interparliamentary Group for Human Rights in the Soviet Union, an important organization aimed at fighting abuses and securing freedom for Soviet Jews.
A founding member of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, and the chair of the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry, Rabbi Miller traveled to the Soviet Union and spoke publicly on the need to free Soviet Jews.
A founding member of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry and the executive vice chair of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, Isaiah Minkoff worked diligently to help create and maintain the National Conference on Soviet Jewry.
A prominent theorist in international relations, Hans J. Morgenthau was also a political activist who chaired the Academic Committee for Soviet Jewry that championed the cause of Soviet Jews seeking to emigrate to Israel from the Soviet Union.
As a Democratic senator, Moynihan was intimately involved in the fight for the rights of Jews in the Soviet Union. He attended Soviet Jewry rallies and met with Jewish leaders to discuss the issue of Soviet Jewry.
As a national director of Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, for over two decades Micah Naftalin supplied the White House, Congress, the State Department and the media with primary data on Soviet and post-Soviet antisemitism, and participated in the establishment of human rights and rule of law monitoring bureaus across the former Soviet Union.
Lawyer and president of the City Council of New York, Paul O'Dwyer traveled to the Soviet Union to denounce the repression of Soviet Jews.
As director of Canadian Jewish Congress’s committee for Soviet Jewry and head of its international affairs department Rabbi Penn worked very closely with the National Conference for Soviet Jews and inspired many members of the Canadian and American Jewish communities to take up the cause of the Soviet Jewry.
Rabbi Baruch Poupko was one of the very first Jewish leaders who advocated international efforts on behalf of Soviet Jews during the early 1950s. Rabbi Poupko promoted public and private action within the Orthodox movement, as well as in the community at large and authored the award-winning Yiddish book In the Shadow of the Kremlin.
President Reagan exerted tremendous effort in relaying Soviet Jewry's suffering to Mikail Gorbachov, the President of the Soviet Union. His continued efforts led to the passage of Public Law 97-157, which expressed the sense of the Congress that the Soviet Union should cease its repressive actions against those individuals who seek the freedom to emigrate or to practice their religious or cultural traditions.
A Congressman and a Senator from Connecticut, Abraham Ribicoff was a leader in the struggle for civil rights, and traveled to the USSR to meet with Soviet politicians on behalf of Refuseniks.
A chair of the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning executive editor of the New York Times, A.M. Rosenthal kept the plight of Soviet Jews aflame, by continuously reporting on the condition of Jews in the Soviet Union.
Rep. Rosenthal was a pioneering Member of Congress who early on recognized and publicly condemned Soviet abuses against the Jewish minority. He chaired a subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that drew together the nascent community that was forming around the Soviet Jewry issue.
One of the most important leaders of the American civil rights movement, Bayard Rustin spoke publicly in support of Soviet Jewry and Zionism.
Director of Columbia University chapter of Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry.
A senior adviser to President Jimmy Carter and a leader of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations, Ed Sanders used his considerable influence to promote the causes of the Soviet Jewry.
A founding member of the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry and a chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Rabbi Schacter was an outspoken advocate for the rights of Soviet Jews and an adviser on the subject to President Richard M. Nixon.
Using his political influence, Scheuer worked with Soviet officials to secure the freedom of individual Refuseniks, and was arrested and imprisoned for participating in a demonstration in Moscow.
A chair of the influential Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
Constitutional lawyer and civil rights advocate Leonard W. Schroeter held leading positions in the Anti-Defamation League and in the ACLU. For a decade he served as legal representative in Europe and the U.S. of the Soviet samizdat writers and authored The Last Exodus, an influential study of the Jewish dissident movement in the USSR.
Through the American Jewish Committee, Dr. Segal was an important early figure in the struggle for Soviet Jewry. He headed the Committee's Office of Foreign Affairs, and commissioned a history of Jews of the Soviet Union (1950).
As the author of the acclaimed Warsaw Ghetto Diaries, and a survivor of the Holocaust, Dr. Seidman championed the cause of the Soviet Jews through his writing career.
Mr. Sher served on the Board of Governors for the National Interreligious Task on Soviet Jewry.
In addition to his role as an educator, Noam Shudofsky was a leader in the movement to free Soviet Jews from Communist oppression, and permit their emigration to Israel. He was one of the first to travel to the Soviet Union during the movement.
One of the founders of the Long Island Committee for Soviet Jewry and the Union of Councils for Soviet Jewry Lynn Singer championed the cause of Soviet Jews through public demonstrations and fundraisers. She also traveled to the Soviet Union to meet with individual Refuseniks and adopt their cases.
Long-term Refusenik and Prisoner of Conscience, for nearly two decades Vladimir Slepak was one of the iconic central figures of the movement for the freedom of Soviet Jews.
A lawyer, philanthropist and civic leader dedicated to the Soviet Jewry movement, Joseph Smukler, with his wife Constance "Connie", was an early advocate for Soviet Jews locally, nationally and in Washington. He served as Vice-Chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry and founding Co-Chair of the Philadelphia Soviet Jewry Council that linked Jewish community leaders with grass-roots reformers.
Former president of United Jewish Communities, Sandford Solender worked to secure the right of Soviet Jews to emigrate to Israel and the United States.
An adviser of Henry A. Kissinger on the Soviet-American relations, Helmut Sonnenfeldt helped place the plight of Soviet Jewry on the agenda of the Nixon and Ford administrations.
Senator Specter was a staunch champion for Soviet Jews in Washington, and worked very closely with Philadelphia's Soviet Jewry campaign.
Former President of the American Jewish Congress and chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, attorney Howard Squadron was a champion of the campaign to free Soviet Jews and met with Soviet representatives to discuss the right of Soviet Jews to emigrate.
Lutheran minister, humanitarian activist, and a firm believer in interfaith solidarity, Reverend John Frederick Steinbruck was a prominent activist of the Soviet Jewry movement, participating in numerous Soviet Jewry demonstrations, helping Soviet Jewish families, and repeatedly visiting Refuseniks in the USSR.
A pioneer of the Soviet Jewry movement and a leader of the Chicago Action for Soviet Jewry, Marillyn A. Tallman was pivotal in the organization of fact-finding missions, linking U.S. synagogues with communities in the former Soviet Union, pressing for legislative action to combat anti-Semitism and countless other projects.
A social justice activist and co-chair of the National Inter-religious Consultation on Soviet Jewry, Rabbi Tanenbaum (American Jewish Committee) was critical to the organization's success in pressuring President Nixon to aid Soviet Jews' right to emigrate.
An American lawyer and educator, Telford Taylor is best known for his role as Counsel for the Prosecution at the Nuremberg Trials after World War II. In his later career, Telford Taylor offered legal assistance to help imprisoned Jews in the Soviet Union.
A prominent religious leader, educator and broadcaster, Rabbi Teitz was a dedicated supporter of Jewish life in the USSR. Rabbi Teitz made 22 trips to the Soviet Union to teach Torah, arrange for shipments of religious literature and supplies to the Soviet Jewish communities, work on preservation of the historic Jewish cemeteries in the Soviet Union and fund the creation of monuments on the graves of the prominent Jewish scholars and Rabbis.
A lawyer, philanthropist and former Democratic Congressman, Herbert Tenzer was the founder of United Jewish Appeal and many other Jewish organizations engaged with the Soviet Jewry Movement.
As a Roman Catholic nun and retired Seton Hall University professor, Rose Thering was an ardent advocate for Soviet Jewry. She was a national leader in the Soviet Jewry campaign and participated in hunger strikes to emphasize her commitment to freeing Soviet Jews.
A businessman and philanthropist, Laurence Tisch contributed both time and funds, greatly influencing the success of the movement to free Soviet Jews.
As a women's rights activist and nun, Margaret Traxler co-founded the National Interreligious Task Force on Soviet Jewry, and as executive director of the National Catholic Conference, worked to inform the Christian community of Soviet Jewry's plight.
As an American novelist and author of the groundbreaking work, Exodus, Leon Uris is credited with changing the conception of the Jewish people on the international stage, as well as the image of Israel. His work was circulated among Soviet Jews, and served as a great source of inspiration for the movement to free Soviet Jewry.
Congressman Vanik is credited with sponsoring the Jackson-Vanik amendment with Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson, which denied normal trade relations to certain countries with non-market economies that restricted freedom of emigration. The amendment was intended to allow religious minorities, particularly Jews, to leave the Soviet Bloc.
During his five decades of public service United States senator, governor of Ohio, and mayor of Cleveland, George Voinovich was active in the Soviet Jewry movement on local, national, and international levels. He was a member of the Lawyers’ Committee for Soviet Jewry, fighting for the human rights of Jews in the USSR, raised money to help resettle Soviet Jewish immigrants, and continued combating anti-Semitism in the former Soviet States in the 1990s and 2000s.
A foreign correspondent in the Middle East for two decades, John Wallach orchestrated a series of meetings where Soviet officials and American Jewish leaders were able to address the plight of Soviet Jews.
As the president of the Communications Workers of America, Mr. Watts used his wealth and influence to aid the cause of the Soviet Jews.
A US attorney and communal leader, Lewis Weinstein helped found the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry, and was a member of the American Jewish Committee. As a personal friend of President John F. Kennedy, Lewis Weinstein constantly raised the issue of Soviet Jewry with the president, and drafted an extensive memorandum on the issue to Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
As president of the Conference of Major Jewish Organizations, William Wexler met with President Nixon in an effort to reverse the death sentences of the "Leningrad Hijackers", a group of Jews wishing to leave the Soviet Union.
Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel's seminal book “The Jews of Silence” informed, shocked and inspired American Jewry to act on behalf of their brethren locked in the Soviet Union. He was a regular featured speaker at rallies and relentlessly utilized his moral authority to fight for the human rights of Soviet Jews.
Serving as a chairman of the South Florida Conference on Soviet Jewry for eight years in the 1970s, Dr. Robert Wolf was a leader in catalyzing support for the Soviet Jewry Movement among fellow Floridians and was particularly active in maintaining lines of communication with Refuseniks. His commitment to those in need continued throughout his lifetime through service to people with disabilities and those in need of affordable dental care.
President of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, Stuart Wurtman, with his wife Enid, provided an inspiring leadership in the Soviet Jewry movement and worked on resettlement of Jews from USSR in Israel.
A prominent businessman and a founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Gordon Zacks helped lead the historic Operation Exodus to enable Jews to emigration from the USSR, helped finance their resettlement in Israel and the United States, and advised George H.W. Bush on the issues of Soviet Jewry.
Last updated 7/21/15
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