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Soviet Jewry

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Collection
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Rising Voices Fellow Maya Jodidio with her Aunt

Because There's More to Russian Jews than Borscht

Maya Jodidio

My aunt and I share so much more than our smile, passion for math and science, and college (go Barnard!). Our strongest and arguably our most important similarity lies in our shared sense of civic responsibility. Although I still have more to learn about social justice work, my aunt is the perfect model of a passionate, hard-working, and persevering activist.

Tina Grimberg

Denied the opportunity to explore her Jewish heritage as a child in Soviet Ukraine, Tina Grimberg has used her career in the rabbinate to ensure inclusivity in the Jewish community.

Tina Grimberg

Tina Grimberg has focused her rabbinic career on empowering women and fighting domestic violence.

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