Daniel Eisenstadt and Michael Granoff’s op-ed, “Never Forgetting – Soviet Jewry Movement, That Is” (Sept. 14), is not only eloquent and compelling but also a very timely reminder of one of the most glorious and triumphant moments in modern Jewish history.
On the High Holy Days, bringing our attention to this exceptional example of Jewish unity and urging to make it a centerpiece of our communal narrative is an excellent way to move teshuvah — the theme of return to our more authentic self — from our prayers into actual practice. For the history of that movement reminds us of what was required to bring people together across such a broad spectrum for “the largest-ever gathering of American Jews”: heroic self-sacrifice by Russian Jewish refuseniks and those who struggled to revive Jewish religion and culture in the face of suppression and persecution by the authorities; the ability of the Jews in the West to recognize this struggle, to relate and to respond to it with compassion and a sense of urgency; the context of Jewish involvement in the broader advocacy for the rights of minorities in America and elsewhere; and the universal appeal of human and civil rights, experienced as perfectly in sync with fundamental Jewish values.
Last year, on the 20th anniversary of the USSR’s collapse, I was privileged to co-organize and co-chair, with Jerry Goodman, an international conference on this subject at the American Jewish Committee, with thought-provoking remarks by Natan Sharansky, Yosef Begun, and other history makers from that movement. It is great to see the spirit and the intent of that conference and other similar efforts carried to the next stage by Freedom 25.
President & CEO, Russian-Speaking Community Council of Manhattan and the Bronx, Inc.