Jewish History Soundbites

The History of Soviet Jewry Part III: Refuseniks & Immigrants

March 25, 2022

Soviet Jewry in the 1970’s and 80’s was a large community which was struggling to define its Jewish identity. Following the Six Day War in Israel, the Refusenik movement gained traction, with many young Soviet Jews applying for exit visas, and willing to sustain the consequences when their applications were denied. Anatoly Sharansky, Ida Nudel, Eliyahu Essas, Yosef Mendelevich, Yuli Edelstein, and many others were exiled or went to prison for the crime of desiring to exit the Soviet Union. For some there was a resurgence of Jewish observance.

In the 1980’s emigration increased, and the last great emigration from Russia began. Many arrived in Israel, while others went to the United States or Germany. In Israel they integrated while maintaining elements of their own culture. 

Rav Avraham Yaakov Pam thought it imperative to create a school system where children of immigrant families from the Soviet Union would be accommodated, and where they would be introduced to religious education. 

This series on the history of Soviet Jewry is sponsored by Shuvu - Chazon Avraham, a network of schools in Israel whose student body is primarily composed of children of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Support Shuvu’s educational projects here:


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