In “Reviving the Values of the Soviet Jewry Movement” (July 13) Jonathan Mark helped focus attention on “Freedom25” and its goals.
To convey the spirit and values of the historic March on Washington on Dec. 6, 1987 is a significant undertaking. Yes, it is important for the understanding of how and why the Jewish community mobilized for that event. The generations that matured afterwards deserve to make sense of its impact on our Soviet Jewry movement, in the former Soviet Union and in Israel.
If we are to help pass on the meaning of the march, and its place in the highly successful campaign for Jews in the former Soviet Union, the complete and accurate retelling of the story is vital.
The march reflected the work and cooperation of several dozen national organizations and not merely a handful of local activists as implied. It was spearheaded by the wall-to-wall coalition constituting the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ). The buses, cars, trains and airplanes bringing 250,000 people could not have happened without the grass-roots network of activists in hundreds of communities, linked to the NCSJ through the National Jewish Community Advisory Council, now the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. The Student Struggle for Soviet Jews, the American Jewish Committee, the American Zionist Movement, the Anti-Defamation League, et al, together with the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews and the Inter-religious Task Force on Soviet Jewry, among others, were part of the trans-continental migration to Washington.
They were highly motivated, inspired and well organized. These were the factors that strengthened the march. “Freedom25” will help us absorb those lessons for the future.
The writer was founding executive director of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry and is a member of the “Freedom25” steering committee.