Anna Charny

b. 1960

Anna Charny was born in Moscow, in 1960. Her father was a noted mathematician who worked in the Soviet space program and her mother was an engineer. After being denied permission to leave the Soviet Union in 1978, she and her family became activists for the rights of a growing refusenik community in Moscow. They had no idea that nearly ten years would pass before they would finally be granted exit visas. During those years, Anna and her parents worked with various Jewish organizations that advocated for and provided economic support to refuseniks. After Charny, her husband, and their oldest child finally arrived in the US, she continued to advocate for other refuseniks, including her parents. After arriving in the United States, she earned her M.S. and PhD from MIT. She is the founder of the Russian School of Mathematics-MetroWest and its managing director.

Scope and Content Note

Anna Charny grew up in Moscow and talks about realizing the limitations for Jews there, being a Jewish student in school where she encountered antisemitism, and her first protest.  She discusses antisemitism as part of daily life and her feelings about antisemitism. Charney discusses observing Jewish holidays, her family history, and becoming more active in Judaism later in life. Anna discusses her first attempt to leave the USSR and immigrate to Israel.  She applied to leave the USSR in 1978 and discusses the consequences of that decision.  She talks about changing schools as a result of being a refusenik and her life as a refusenik. She also discusses her social life and refusenik activism.  She describes her second attempt for applying to leave the USSR and the specifics of applying; she could only apply to go to Israel.  Also, she talks about her family’s Jewish Identity over generations in USSR and her knowledge about the outside world and Jewish life from growing up in the USSR.  She details meeting American rabbis for the first time, including Rabbi Bernard Mehlman and Rabbi Ronne Friedman, and getting together with refusenik families.  She talks about her employment status as a refusenik, her science and math work as a refusenik, and looking for work after moving to the United States.  She was finally able to leave the USSR and move to the United States.  She describes having to leave her family and their reaction.  She talks about her first year in the US and settling, assimilating, and working in the States.  Finally, she discusses Soviet Jewish Emigres and family in the United States.

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How to cite this page

Oral History of Anna Charny. Interviewed by Gabriel Weinstein. . Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on February 23, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories/charny-anna>.

Oral History of Anna Charny by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jwa.org/contact/OralHistory.