Marillyn Tallman was born and raised in Decatur Illinois. Marillyn fell in love with Jewish history when Rabbi Albert Goldman asked if she would like to study with him. Marillyn says "It was like I found a new home. I found my people."
Marillyn has always been compelled by the historical moment. In 1945 she directed the Hillel Foreign Student Service, a rescue project for young Holocaust survivors in displaced persons camps. Marillyn helped 125 survivors begin new lives in the U.S. In 1968 she traveled to the Soviet Union. Upon her return, she connected with Chicago Action for Soviet Jewry and joined Pam Cohen as its leader. With Pam, she developed a nine-hour briefing session for tourists who met with Soviet Jews, smuggled in Jewish books, tapes, articles and important papers and brought out information used to help monitor Jewish human rights. Marillyn continues to lead Chicago Action. She says, "Our work today is sustenance and protection of Jewish communities in the Former Soviet Union."
Marillyn is widely known across the U.S. and Canada as a teacher and lecturer of Jewish history. With Dawn Schuman, Marillyn crafted a seven-year course of Jewish studies for adults that she taught for many years. Through U.J.A.'s National Speakers Bureau, Marillyn shares the stories of "our remarkable people who have struggled to do mitzvot and have clung to their own Jewish history from the time of Abraham."
Marillyn has been a leader and an activist in the Jewish community for sixty years. She is living witness to her own conviction: "Do not stand by. Be a part of your dynamic Jewish history. It will enrich your life. It will help your fellow Jews."