Soviet Jewry

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Berlin "Stumbling Stone" to commemorate Holocaust victim with rose and sign reading "never again" placed on top

I Visited Six European Jewish Communities to Explore My Own Identity

Zia Saylor

My travels in Europe helped me reconcile some of the tensions in my Jewish identity.

Episode 76: Message From Ukraine

Vlada Nedak lives in Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine, only an hour's drive from the front lines of the war. She's a wife and mother and the owner of a menagerie of household pets. She's also the Executive Director of Project Kesher Ukraine, a network of Jewish women building community and leadership. When Russia invaded Ukraine, like many Ukrainians, Vlada was faced with the difficult choice of whether to stay or try to leave the country. In this episode of Can We Talk?, Nahanni speaks with Vlada about her experiences of the war and about how it has affected the women in Project Kesher's network.

Sarah Gorbatov in Her Grandmother’s Traditional Belarusian Clothing

"Invisibility Cloak": Uncovering My Identity as a Descendant of Soviet Jews

Sarah Gorbatov

I’m the daughter of an immigrant family, and nothing appealed to my Soviet Jewish family more than the idea of invisibility.

Zoya Cherkassky

Zoya Cherkassky (b. 1976 in Kyiv, Ukraine) is a prominent Israeli artist. She works in a range of media and styles, synthesizing traditional painting techniques with vernacular tools and moving freely between allusions to the European canon and contemporary art. Her work is marked by humor, irony, and satire and at times has been controversial.

Twenty-First Century Jewish Literature by Women in the US

Twenty-first-century Jewish women’s writing in the United States is wide-ranging in genre and topic. In this body of literature, we can find insightful and nuanced stories of contemporary American life as well as fiction that delves into lost or forgotten Jewish histories. From a female Spinoza to a female golem, a strong feminist ethic is pervasive in these writings.

Valentina Vaysfeld at an October Revolution celebration, 1937

How a Trip to Ukraine Helped Me Decide to Have Children

Zhanna Slor

A trip to Ukraine helped this writer decide to have children.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Miriam Weiner

Through her genealogical program Routes to Roots, Miriam Weiner helped Jews access historical records that had survived the Soviet suppression of information throughout Eastern Europe.

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