We had one vision we all had to realize. And we did.Stuart Kurlander, President, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, quoted in The Washington Post, December 2012
There was often tension at the national level between established Jewish organizations and grassroots Soviet Jewry activists. Although the groups were sometimes divided on tactics, all had the same ultimate goal: liberating Soviet Jews.
Two primary groups in Washington worked on the Soviet Jewry issue:
The Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry (WCSJ), a grassroots organization formed in 1968, grew to 5,000 individual members at its height. WCSJ had two primary goals: helping Jews emigrate from the Soviet Union, and activating the Washington community on behalf of Soviet Jewry. WCSJ was one of the earliest members of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews.
The Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, composed of over 100 local constituent organizations, established a Soviet Jewry Committee in 1969. It drew on the Council’s professional staff and organizational networks to coordinate activities, and worked with the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (now the Jewish Council for Public Affairs).
Numerous synagogues, fraternal and community organizations participated in Soviet Jewry activities.
The WCSJ and the Jewish Community Council were each connected with national organizations:
The Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (UCSJ) formed in 1970 as an umbrella organization of grassroots Soviet Jewry organizations around the country. UCSJ pioneered the first person-to-person programs with Soviet Jews, and was involved with contacting and locating refuseniks and coordinating relief for their cases.
The National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ), formerly known as the American Jewry Conference on Soviet Jewry, became the largest Soviet Jewry advocacy organization. It coordinated Soviet Jewry policies and events for national Jewish organizations and community groups.
Ameinu Washington-Baltimore Chapter, Bet Mishpachah, Sharon Burka, Linda Causey, Congregation Har Shalom, Paula Goldman, Trenice D. Goldstein, Ella Kagan, Nathan Lewin, NA’AMAT Greater Washington Council, Rabbi Mindy Portnoy, Judy & Russell Smith, Donna & Stan Stoller, Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, Jennifer & Jonathan Weinberg
And other supporters: Neale Ainsfield, Elaine Amir, Les Bergen, Inna & Lev Goldfarb, Betty Miller, Jonathan Skolnik, John Tolleris, Geraldyne & Jeffrey Weiser, Mendelle T. Woodley, Paul Wright
Many thanks to those who supported the exhibition with their time, knowledge, and expertise:
Sara Apelbaum, Samantha Bass, Phoebe Coleman, Mary Ann Dawedeit, Dr. Shulamith Elster, Amy Federman, Elsie Klumpner, Merrill Lavine, Zachary Paul Levine, Nathan Lewin, David McKenzie, Dr. Peggy Pearlstein, June Rogul, Josh Schooler, Samuel Sislen
We are especially grateful to all those who donated materials to the JHSGW Soviet Jewry Archives: Avrum Ashery, Rabbi Marvin Bash, Herbert Beller, Moshe Brodetzky, Dr. Jack Cohen, Joan & Oscar Dodek, Shulamith & Sheldon Elster, Dene Garbow, Steven N. Gell, Marcia Goldberg, Norman Goldstein, Walter Golman, Judye Groner, Susan Banes Harris, Ida Jervis, Jewish Community Relations Council, Ella Kagan, Maryla Korn, Marjorie Kravitz, Lawrence Lewin, Dr. Jack Lowe, Sydney Manekofsky, Daniel Mann, Betty Miller, Jack Minker, Dr. Peggy Pearlstein, June Rogul, Rabbi Arnold Saltzman, Elias Savada, Diane Schilit, Rabbi Gerald Serotta, Bert Silver, Sara Rubinow Simon, Samuel Sislen, Russell Smith, Haim Solomon, Reverend John Steinbruck, Donna Stoller, Marcia Weinberg, and Liliane Willens.