Exhibit: Women Who Dared
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  Galina Nizhnikov Veremkroit
  Activist for Soviet Jewry
  Boston WWD Event 2003
  Born in 1940
  Former Soviet Refusenik and activist in the Jewish Women's Movement in Russia, and also worked in the US to help Soviet Jews resettle here
 
Biography  up to top

Galina was born in Moscow in 1940, the much beloved youngest child and only daughter in a family of six. Her family was very close, and she spent a great deal of time with her grandparents and cousins. Although her family was unable to observe most Jewish religious practices because of government restrictions, her parents taught her to be proud of her Jewish identity.

Galina earned a degree in mechanical engineering, got married, and bore two sons. She and her husband, both experiencing discrimination at work and concerned about their sons' futures, began to consider emigrating. In 1975, they applied to emigrate and were refused. Soon after, they became active in the refusenik community. Their son also became an activist, joining the Jewish underground.

Galina's in-laws introduced her to the famous refusenik, Ida Nudel. Nudel invited Galina to participate in demonstrations of Jewish women refuseniks. Galina, who at this time quit her job to focus on the quest to emigrate, was one of six women who participated in this new Jewish women's movement. Their first demonstration was held at the Kremlin Wall; they caught the guards unaware since no one had ever dared to demonstrate there before. Galina made a special t-shirt emblazoned with a blue Jewish star, and it became her activist trademark. The women held several other demonstrations, including one from an apartment, hanging flags and banners out of the windows, and one across the street from KGB headquarters. Three KGB agents began to trail Galina in her every movement, and after one demonstration, took Galina to the police station and confiscated her passport. The KGB also targeted her older son.

Finally, with the intervention of relatives in the US and Senator Edward Kennedy, Galina and her family received permission to leave the Soviet Union. With a mixture of joy and fear, they emigrated in 1978 and resettled in the Boston area. After her arrival, Galina spent ten years working with Action for Post-Soviet Jewry to help others leave the Soviet Union. She also worked with Jewish Family Services of the North Shore and founded an organization for resettlement called HELP. Among those she brought to the US were her brothers and their children. Galina wrote a memoir, The Courage of Despair, detailing her experiences in the Jewish women's movement in Russia. She also got divorced and remarried, and is now quite family-oriented, focusing on her three grandchildren as well as her extended family, which remains close.

Galina and her husband live in Peabody, Massachusetts. She works in the Business Office at the Germaine Lawrence School in Arlington.

 
What She Said  up to top
ON FAMILY UPBRINGING
In Russia, because of the situation of anti-Semitism, a lot of Jewish people tried to hide from their children their identity, which wasn't the case in our family. ...More 
ON ROLE MODELS
My role model was first my mom, [who] I think really raised me well in the way that she gave me some qualities in life to be strong, honest, open, loving, and helpful to others. ...More  Audio available
ON BEING A WOMAN ACTIVIST
We though that it was less risky to take this step [to demonstrate as women]. ...More 
ON PATH TO ACTIVISM
[After being refused permission to emigrate] we got involved in an absolutely different life... I knew that the time was running out for us ...More 
When I came to this country I had this feeling of guilt -- why had we received permission and not others who were even waiting longer? It was a drive for me, a real drive not to stop ...More 
ON IMPACT ON WORLD
I feel very proud of having played a part in bringing a number of families to freedom. ...More 
ON IMPACT ON SELF
I didn't know that I'm so strong. I didn't know that I'm so gutsy. I can tell you that I never would be divorced in Russia. ...More 
ON CHALLENGES
For me [the greatest challenge was] to be strong, not to show any fear at all, because I knew that if I show any fear in any area, then we will lose the battle. When I started to demonstrate, one of the KGB agents ...More 
 
Multimedia  up to top
Photographs Photographs
Audio Clips Audio 
Answer - Role Models (Galina Nizhnikov Veremkroit)
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How to Cite This Page
For a bibliography: Jewish Women's Archive. "JWA - Women Who Dared - Biography Galina Nizhnikov Veremkroit." <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/bio.jsp?personID=pgveremkroit>.

For a footnote: Jewish Women's Archive, "JWA - Women Who Dared - Biography Galina Nizhnikov Veremkroit," <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/bio.jsp?personID=pgveremkroit>.