I was 21 years old when I got married, and [was] really a kid. We had 3 children and it was really shortly after that, that I learned about Jews being arrested in Russia. And, everything inside me said not again. Jews arrested in Russia? And I had to really dig for the information. I mean there was no information. It wasn't public information. I had to really do a lot of research to find out where I could get the information. We subscribed at the time, [to] a Jewish paper in Philadelphia, and I think it was called the Jewish Observer, It was a weekly and they ran a little column about what was happening in the Soviet Union. I didn't have my own private channels. I had gotten involved in an organization (NCJW) that was taking roles in political activism, various lobbies. It must have been the early 70's And, I would trot in and the next thing I knew I was telling everybody that this Jew was arrested and I said to write letters... after a long period of time [I learned] that there was an organization called Chicago Action for Soviet Jewry. It was started in 1972 by three activists after the Leningrad trials.
I connected to the organization in the middle 70's. It was one council, connected to other grass roots councils in the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, which was in Washington. Natan Sharansky said that it was a movement led by students and housewives. If there was anything we came out of the holocaust with was the fact that our silence was complicity and that we may not be silent and that whatever the cost personally, we had to "do". Within a few months, a group of women started joining this organization (NCJW) to be in this [project] that I was putting together. All of the sudden this organization became filled with people who had heard about it, and we started a little branch of the NCJW and Chicago Action. It was like a little mini-satellite up here on the North Shore (of Chicago). And, the idea was that I would give them cases of Refuseniks. We would "adopt" a Refusenik. What that meant was that we became like a political anchor for that family. We contacted our Congressmen and asked the Congressman to write letters. In 1975 when there was... in Nixon's Summit, we made sure that this case was on the list that the President brought to Brezhnev.
How to Cite This Page
For a bibliography:
Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Women's Archive - Women Who Dared - Pamela Cohen on PATH TO ACTIVISM." <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/fullAnswer.jsp>.
For a footnote:
Jewish Women's Archive, "Jewish Women's Archive - Women Who Dared - Pamela Cohen on PATH TO ACTIVISM," <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/fullAnswer.jsp>.