Narrators

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.

Alla Aberson

Alla Aberson is a Soviet Jew who grew up in a family that was critical of Communist Party rule. When she and her family were denied exit visas to emigrate, they became known as refuseniks.

Anna Charny

Anna Charny and her family were a prominent part of the refusenik community in Moscow, working with various Jewish organizations that advocated for and provided economic support to refuseniks.

Sheila Decter

Originally from the Boston area, Sheila Decter worked throughout her career to support the Jewish community, including the movement for Soviet Jewry, until her retirement in 2017.

Roy B. Einhorn

Roy Einhorn has been the cantor at Temple Israel in Boston for more than 35 years. In the 1980s, he made several trips to the Soviet Union as part of the temple’s efforts to support refuseniks.

Nadia Fradkova

Growing up in a small town near Moscow, Nadia Fradkova didn’t learn of her Judaism until faced with taunting by her peers. After the Soviet Union collapsed and restrictions on emigration ended, she settled in Israel for a few years before making her way to Boston.

Ronne Friedman

Ronne Friedman served as a rabbi at Temple Israel of Boston for more than thirty years. In the 1980s, he made several trips to the former Soviet Union and continued his engagement with the movement for Soviet Jewry after his return to Boston.

Janna Kaplan

After facing significant challenges as a Jewish woman scientist in the Soviet Union, Janna Kaplan tried to emigrate, but was denied an exit visa. Her persistence enabled her to eventually leave the country and settle in the United States.

Bernice Kazis

Bernice Kazis is a former teacher and social worker who dedicated much of her career to resettling Soviet Jews in the greater Boston area.

Bernard H. Mehlman

Rabbi Bernard Mehlman is the senior scholar at Temple Israel of Boston. In the 1980s, he made several trips to the Soviet Union and helped facilitate the emigration of several high-profile refuseniks in the Boston area.

Judy Patkin

Judy Patkin is the founder of Action for Post-Soviet Jewry (formerly known as Action for Soviet Jewry), a group that supports refuseniks socially and economically.

Donald Putnoi

Donald Putnoi was an active member of the movement for Soviet Jewry in Boston, through his membership at Temple Israel and friendship with Rabbi Bernard Mehlman.

Fran Putnoi

The first woman to serve as president at Temple Israel of Boston, Fran Putnoi was an active member of the movement for Soviet Jewry in Boston.

Ary Rotman

A refusenik for many years, Ary Rotman eventually emigrated to Boston in the early 1970s with his wife and their young son, first working at a department store before taking a job at an insurance company.

Diana Shklyarov

Born in Leningrad, Diana Shklyarov came to terms with the antisemitism she faced after being refused entrance to a prestigious university. Years later, she and her family were finally granted permission to emigrate and resettled in Boston in 1988.

Olga Shmuylovich

An artist whose work is rooted in Jewish identity, Olga Shmuylovich spent the first part of her life trying unsuccessfully to emigrate from the Soviet Union, until finally resettling in Boston with her husband, also an artist, in 1992.

Andrea Waldstein

Andrea Waldstein is a Boston-based social worker and activist who worked internationally to support Soviet Jews, particularly women.

Judy Wolf

Judy Wolf's career has centered on Jewish philanthropy, international relations, women's rights, and the movement for Soviet Jewry. She continues her work to support world Jewry through efforts like the Kehillah project in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Narrators." (Viewed on October 18, 2019) <https://jwa.org/communitystories/sovietjewry/narrators>.

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