Sheila Decter

Originally from the Boston area, Sheila Decter holds an Master's degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin. She has had a long career working for Jewish communal organizations, including a 23-year tenure at the American Jewish Congress, New England Region. She later served as executive director of the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action until her retirement in 2017. In the 1970s she worked to keep the movement for Soviet Jewry in the news day after day, year after year. She also lobbied state and national officeholders to secure their support for the movement.

Scope and Content Note

Sheila Decter discusses the Simcha Torah awareness truck drive, Refuseniks versus Dissidents, and working with the Kennedy Administration.  She also talked about community divisions and the student struggle versus the Federation strategy.  Additionally, she talks about the role of women and letter-writing campaigns, the Jewish Agenda in Washington, and the “staying power” of the Soviet Jewry cause in comparison to today’s Iran Deal issue.  Finally, she talks about keeping the project alive through hope and care packages. 


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How to cite this page

Oral History of Sheila Decter. 7 October 2016. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on February 26, 2024) <>.

Oral History of Sheila Decter 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