Boston’s Soviet Jewry Movement

Spanning the mid-1960s through the early 1990s, the movement for Soviet Jewry was an international campaign to secure two basic human rights for Jews--their right to live openly as Jews within the Soviet Union and to freely emigrate if they wished to do so. During the summer of 2016, inspired by a sense of urgency to capture their stories before they were lost, JWA organized a story collecting project to document the experiences of Soviet Jews and American Jewish activists living in the Boston area.


The narrators hail from the Boston area, Leningrad, and Moscow. Some have a long history of activism, while others became activists by necessity or chance. Together, their stories describe a movement that lasted nearly 30 years and eventually helped resettle approximately two million Soviet Jews and their relatives.


Explore six themes that capture and highlight different aspects of the movement for Soviet Jewry, such as “The Decision to Emigrate” and “Life as a Refusenik.”


View a timeline of the movement for Soviet Jewry, beginning in 1953 with Joseph Stalin’s death, and lasting until 1991 when the Soviet Union dissolved into independent republics and emigration restrictions were removed.


Learn about the students, interns, and volunteers who helped develop this project by conducting oral history interviews, curating content, and designing the online exhibit.


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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Boston’s Soviet Jewry Movement." (Viewed on April 15, 2024) <>.