Regarding “30 Years Later, ‘The Big Rally’ Is Little Remembered” (Nov. 16): I grew up in Queens, mostly in the 1970s. In Hebrew school, we learned about social justice and that meant fighting for Soviet Jewry, like writing letters to dissidents or Jewish families as pen pals, letting them know we cared. The older kids took turns going down to the Soviet Consulate protesting and ‘sitting-in,’ as that was a popular form of protest at the time. Even the theme of the Salute to Israel Parade in 1972 highlighted the plight of our Jewish brothers and sisters in the Soviet Union. We marched with paper-mache shackles on our wrists. In front of us drove a float depicting Israel, the land of milk and honey. My beautiful older sister represented Miss Israel on that float. Such glorious memories.
All of this background is why I was even more honored and completely psyched to be one of the ‘leads’ on the public relations effort for the famous 1987 rally. It was an amazing effort for Jewish organizations nationally, even worldwide. As a public relations professional, I was sent to Washington a few weeks prior to the rally to work out of AJC’s D.C. office to coordinate the TV and radio coverage.
On the day of the rally, I was to escort Natan Sharansky to his first in-studio CNN interview. I quickly learned that he was funny, clever, fascinating, and strong willed—just like his wife, Avital Sharansky, whom I had been working with in years prior to the rally. It was a day I would never forget. There were many press events during my 35-year-career but none other was as cohesive, with all-encompassing support from the world, as that 1987 rally.
I have made a point in my home to be sure my children know the importance of the Soviet Jewry movement and Freedom Sunday. I have tried to teach them how to replicate some of our disciplines for their causes today. There is a lot to be learned and much to be taught from the past. That era of activism needs to be re-visited, learned and taught to enhance and broaden our future.