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Pamela Cohen

Called “the general of a fighting army” by jailed dissident Natan Sharansky, Pamela Cohen rescued countless refuseniks from Soviet Russia with her grassroots efforts. Cohen grew up on tales of one grandparent who escaped the Czar’s army and another who survived pogroms. When she heard that Jews were being jailed in the USSR for their beliefs, she felt a moral responsibility to avert another tragedy. She created the satellite office of Chicago Action for Soviet Jewry and eventually became president of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews. She testified before Congress and participated in briefings on Soviet emigration and state-sponsored anti-Semitism for President Reagan and Secretaries of State Schultz, Baker, and Condoleeza Rice. Her army of students and housewives became advocates for Soviet Jews; they “adopted” specific refuseniks to raise American awareness of their plight and help them emigrate.

Pamela Cohen was honored at the 2005 Women Who Dared event in Chicago.

Pamela Cohen, 1997
Full image

Pamela Braun Cohen receiving a Doctor of Human Letters Degree honoris causa, Sunday, September 21, 1997 from Spertus Institute of Jewish Study, Chicago.

Date of Birth
Place of Birth
Oak Park, Illinois

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Pamela Cohen." (Viewed on November 18, 2018) <>.


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