Freeing Russian Jewry: The Refuseniks

The campaign to free the Jews of the USSR grew into a global phenomenon that motivated Jews across the world to fight for their fellow Jews. With incredible results.

Comments (5)

(5) Glenn Richter, May 14, 2019 3:14 PM

Terrific video on Soviet Jews -- but need these corrections

I'm the former national coordinator of the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, and would like to offer a hearty kol hakovod for your video on Soviet Jewry. But there are two factual errors I caught: 1) Jacob Birnbaum indeed founded SSSJ with us students as his assistants in 1964, but he was not a Yeshiva University student. He deliberately moved to a couple of blocks from YU so he could encourage students to be active for our Russian brethren. Birnbaum, the grandson of Nathan Birnbaum who'd coined the term "zionism", suffered as a child in Germany in the 1930s under the Nazis, and helped young Jewish refugees after World War II, an an example of his motivation. 2)Shlomo Carlebach, at our request, penned "Am Yisrael Chai" as SSSJ's marching song for our April 1965 Jericho March of thousands from the Soviet UN Mission to the United Nations, where a group of rabbis blew shofrot, not Jacob. The Madison Square Garden rally was convened by Jewish establishment organizations and was in June that year. Hope you can correct this video to make it even better.

(4) Julian Ross, May 14, 2019 3:12 PM


With great pride, I point out that the initial and vital grassroots effort in the United States on behalf of Soviet Jews was started by members of Beth-Israel, the West Temple, in Cleveland, Ohio. Jewish community members (among them NASA engineers, medical doctors, and college professors) living the west side of Cleveland created the Cleveland Council on Soviet Anti-Semitism. The group's efforts were housed in a tiny office created above the Beth-Israel Bimah. Among the group's leaders were Louis Rosenblum, Herbert Caron, Abe Silverstein, Don Bogart, Bob Steinberg, David Gitlin, and Rabbi Daniel Litt. Beth-Israel, The West Temple, remains a warm, vibrant and loving congregation, very proud of its historical tradition. A good deal of information about the Cleveland Council on Soviet Anti-Semitism is located here:

(3) Bat-sheva Venismach, May 14, 2019 3:00 PM

Rabbi Meir Kahane's role in the freedom of Soviet Jewry vastly understated in your video!

Glad that you at least mentioned Rabbi Meir Kahane's role, but saddened that it was so outrageously understated!
Rabbi Kahane spearheaded the grassroots movements that came after him. He made the issue of Soviet Jewry a priority through his writings and political activism. way back in the early 1960's when other Jewish leaders were afraid to bring it up. He was not afraid to confront major world leaders about the horrible persecution of Jews in the Soviet Union. It was only AFTER his brave efforts that it became a number one priority in the Jewish community at large.
To intimate that his role was limited to sporadic violent tactics, is a grave injustice on your part! To mention him only in passing, is like mentioning Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in passing when talking about the black struggle for equal rights in the South!

(2) Menachem, May 14, 2019 2:33 PM

Rav Kahane deserves much more credit than given.

Rabbi Meir Kahane hy"d deserves a lot more credit than the few seconds he was given in this video. The Rav moved the Soviet Jewish issue to the front pages of the newspapers with his self sacrifice and dedication. Jewish youth were inspired by him to fight for their brothers and sisters even if it meant arrest and trial.

(1) Dvirah, April 30, 2019 8:46 PM

Nice Summary

Another good one! Please keep them coming.


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