Chronology of Major Events was prepared by Yuli Kosharovsky and Enid Wurtman. We are grateful to Pam Cohen and Jerry Goodman for their valuable contributions.
Stage I: Isolation of Russian Jewry from World Jewry and Zionist Movement – 1917-1940
|1917||Two Russian revolutions emancipated Russian Jews from a number of special anti-Jewish measures.|
|1918||Founding of “Habimah” – a Hebrew-language Jewish theater in Moscow.|
|1919||Hebrew teaching is forbidden in Jewish schools by decision of the Ministry of Education.|
|1928||March. Birobidzhan, the Jewish Autonomous Region in the Soviet Far East, is founded as an alternative to Jewish Zionist national aspirations.|
|1929||Nearly all Yiddish schools and cultural institutions outside of Birobidzhan are closed.|
|1930||April 25. The Soviet Union establishes the Gulag administration to coordinate the network of penal labor camps for criminals and political prisoners. Many Zionist, religious, and other Jewish activists perished or suffered for many years in the Gulag.|
|1932||A new internal passport system is introduced: Jews (“Yevrei”) and other national minorities are now identified as such on individual identification documents.|
|1938||The first large anti-Jewish purge takes place; district leaders in Birobidzhan are accused of “Trotskyism.”Also deemed anti-Soviet is membership in certain Jewish parties or organizations, including the Yiddish-speaking Bund and Zionist Poalei Zion. These groups are seen as promoting Jewish national autonomy and as obstacles to the full assimilation of Jews into Soviet society.|
|1940||June 16. During World War II, the Soviet Union invades and annexes Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Bessarabia as part of its pact with Nazi Germany.|
Stage II: World War II, Holocaust, creation of the State of Israel and Black Years of Soviet Jewry, out of which future Jewish leaders emerged – 1941-1953.
|1941||September 29-31. Massacre of 33,000 Jews of Kiev by the Nazis and their Ukrainian supporters takes place at nearby Babi Yar ravine.|
|1942||April. The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAFC), headed by noted Yiddish actor and director of the Moscow State Jewish Theater, Solomon Mikhoels, is created to help mobilize worldwide Jewish support for the USSR during World War II.|
|1945||May 9. Germany surrenders and the Second World War ends. Death of nearly 30 million Soviet citizens recorded, including 2.5 million Jews.|
|1947||The Soviet Union’s foreign minister, Andrei Gromyko, addresses the United Nations General Assembly and urges the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.|
|1948||The beginning of the period (1948-53) labeled the “Black Years” in Soviet Jewish history, a terrifying time when the aggressive dismantling of the remaining Jewish institutions takes place, including the Yiddish theater, newspapers, and journals.January 12. The chairman of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, Solomon Mikhoels, is killed by KGB agents on Stalin’s order in a staged accident in Minsk. Within a year, the Yiddish theater is liquidated.May 14. Jewish People’s Council in Palestine declared the establishment of the State of Israel. Beginning of the second wave of Zionist revival in the USSR.
October 16. Ambassador Golda Meir, head of an Israeli delegation to the USSR, visits the Moscow Chorale Synagogue, attracting a mass crowd of some 50,000 Jews who greet her enthusiastically. The event causes great concern among Soviet officials, who see it as a remnant of Jewish national sentiments.
November 20. The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, the last vestige of organized Jewish cultural life, is dissolved and many of its leaders imprisoned. The Yiddish newspaper Eynikeyt, published by the Committee, is closed.
|1949||Anti-Zionist trials: 12 people of the group Eynikeyt, a Zionist youth organization, in Zhmerinka, Kiev, Leningrad, and other cities (Meir Gelfond, Tatiana Kertsman, Alexander Khodorkovsky, Mikhail Spivak, Alexander Sukher, Helena Rachlis, Efraim Wolf, Ludmila Reznikova, and others) were arrested and imprisoned for long terms in forced labor camps.|
|1949-1951||Jews in the arts and sciences are targeted as anti-Soviet nationalists and “rootless cosmopolitans” sympathetic to the West. Key Jewish personalities in Birobidzhan are swept up in the campaign, and many are sent to prison or labor camps.|
|1950||Anti-Zionist trials in Moscow: Vitali Svechinsky, Roman Brakhman, and Mikhail Margulis are sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment.|
|1952||August 12. The “Night of the Murdered Poets”. The extra-legal execution of 13 prominent Jewish writers, poets, scientists, and political figures, members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee: Peretz Markish, David Hofstein, Itzik Fefer, Leib Kvitko, David Bergelson, Solomon Lozovsky, Boris Shimeliovich, Benjamin Zuskin, Joseph Yuzefovich, Leon Talmy, Ilya Vatenberg, Chaika Vatenberg, Emilia Teumin. Execution takes place in Moscow’s Lubyanka prison.Israel creates a special high-level secret bureau, Nativ, to coordinate activities on behalf of Soviet Jews.|
|1953||January 13. Article in Pravda “Dastardly Spies and Assassins in the Guise of Professors and Doctors“- the beginning of the “Doctors Plot” campaign accusing Jewish medical professionals of planning to kill Stalin and other officials, as well as being “agents” of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), an international social welfare agency.March 5. Stalin dies on Purim. The trial of the Jewish medical professionals is cancelled.|
Stage III. Israel widens efforts behind the scenes on behalf of Soviet Jewry - 1953-1962
|1955||Arrests of Jewish activists, connected to the Israeli Embassy in Moscow and their subsequent imprisonment: Moshe Brodsky – 10 years of hard labor, reduced to 6 years upon appeal; Avraham Landman – 1 year; Ida Rozhansky – 5 years.|
|1956||Signing of Russian-Polish Repatriation Agreement, enabling Jews entitled to Polish citizenship to emigrate from USSR to Warsaw en route to Israel. Nativ creates Bar, an international branch for mobilizing public opinion and lobbing political structures in the West in support of the Soviet Jewry struggle.February 25. Nikita Khrushchev’s secret speech denouncing the personality cult of Stalin, delivered at the Twentieth Communist Party Congress.August. Three Israeli diplomats, accused of establishing contacts with the Jewish activists arrested in 1955, are expelled, including Nehemia Levanon, future head of Nativ.|
|1957||July-August. Sixth International Youth and Student Festival in Moscow. Israeli delegation attracts Soviet Jews’ interest.|
|1958||Arrests of Jewish activists, connected to the Israeli Embassy and their subsequent imprisonment: Dora, Shimon and Boris Podolsky; Tina Brodetskaia, Evsei Drobovsky, Anatoly Belfer and David Khavkin.|
|1959||A ground breaking cover story by Moshe Decter in the New Leader documents discrimination against Soviet Jews, a major publishing event in creating public awareness of their plight.September 25. During a meeting at Camp David, President Dwight D. Eisenhower urges Nikita Khrushchev to resolve issues concerning the status of Jews in the USSR. Eisenhower cites the “deep concern” expressed to him by Jewish groups.|
|1960||October. A study by Dr. William Korey and B’nai B’rith on the Right to Leave and Return is submitted to the United Nations. (In 1964 it is adopted by the inter-organizational American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry [AJCSJ] as a basic, legal argument for the rights of Soviet Jews).|
|1961||July. Campaign against economic crimes begins and lasts through March 1963. Most of those arrested are Jews; death penalties are imposed in many cases.|
|1962||At the United Nations, Australia’s chief delegate, Douglas White, states that the Soviet Union is obligated, under the terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to permit emigration. He is encouraged by Isi Liebler, an Australian Jewish community leader|
Stage IV: American Jewry joins the struggle for Soviet Jewry followed by other Jewish communities around the world – 1963 – 1967
|1963||A virulent anti-Semitic book, Judaism Without Embellishment, by Trofim Kichko is published in the USSR.October 12. In Cleveland, Ohio, the “Cleveland Committee on Soviet Anti-Semitism” is created under the leadership of Louis Rosenblum, the future president of the national organization, the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews.October 29. As news trickles out of the Soviet Union, Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg, with Senators Abraham Ribicoff and Jacob Javits, meet with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin. They challenge him regarding Moscow’s treatment of Jews, but no policy changes are forthcoming.|
|1964||April. The major, national Jewish organizations meet at the Wilshire Hotel in Washington DC. They launch the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry (AJCSJ), an ad hoc body to advocate for Soviet Jews.The Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (SSSJ) is launched at Columbia University to enlist students at American colleges and universities in the advocacy effort.October 28. Over 10,000 people attend a rally in New York’s Madison Square Garden, the earliest large scale public demonstration for Soviet Jews.|
|1965||Arrest and imprisonment of Mordechai Lapid (Mark Blum) in Riga for Zionist activities.September 19-24. Thousands attend a National Eternal Light Vigil, the first public demonstration in Washington, DC organized by the AJCSJ, with the participation of national and local leaders and activists.|
|1966||Elie Wiesel’s book, The Jews of Silence, is published, highlighting his encounters with Soviet Jews and the silence of Western Jews in the face of their plight.|
Stage V: Six-Day War and development of mass underground Zionist movement in USSR – 1967- 1971
|1967||June 5-10 -Six-Day War. Israel’s decisive victory in the Six Day War arouses great pride and strong national sentiment among many Jews in the Soviet Union. Interest and desire to live in Israel escalate. June 10: USSR severs diplomatic relations with Israel. June 11: Yakov Kazakov (Yaakov Kedmi) submits a written appeal to the USSR Supreme Soviet renouncing Soviet citizenship.|
|1968||May. House Minority Leader Gerald Ford (Rep., Michigan) introduces a resolution in support of Soviet Jews. In the next 20 years scores of resolutions are introduced by Members of Congress focusing on specific individuals as well as on the general plight of Soviet Jews seeking to emigrate to Israel. June 6. Presentation of Gromyko and Andropov to the Politburo with a proposal to resume limited emigration.|
|1969||At the trial in Kiev – May 13th -16th – Boris Kochubievsky charged with slander against Soviet regime without an intention of undermining it. Sentence – 3 years hard labor in prison camp. Afterwards, the arrests and trials of Jewish activists are accelerated. August 6. An appeal to the United Nations from 18 Soviet Georgian Jewish families, calls for their right to leave the Soviet Union. Their appeal captured the attention of the media and advocates for Soviet Jews. Underground all-union coordinating committee (VKK) is created by Jewish activists in the Soviet Union.Underground Zionist movement initiates campaign of open appeals.
|1970||March 3, 32 local, independent groups in the U.S. join together to create the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews to spur national organizations “to greater activity”. March 8. 39 Soviet Jews from different cities protest to the Soviet Foreign Ministry against the continuing anti-Israel and anti-Zionist campaign. The letter was an immediate reaction to the press-conference of state’s Jews, organized by the authorities. The letter of 39 Jew was sent to the West and stimulated a wave of protests and public appeals targeting Moscow.June 15. The arrest of 16 activists who attempted to hijack a plane in an act of desperation in order to reach Israel. For a long time they have been unable to get exit visas for Israel in a legal way. The arrest started an anti-Zionist campaign throughout the Soviet Union with many additional arrests, searches and interrogations.December 10. Human Rights Day. A daily Soviet Jewry Vigil is launched opposite the Soviet Embassy, in Washington, D.C. The Vigil lasts 20 years.
Anti-Zionist trials: December 25. The First Leningrad Trial (December 15-25) ends with Jewish and non-Jewish defendants, accused of “hijacking” an airplane to escape the Soviet Union and reach Israel, sentenced 4 to 15 years (Mendel Bodnya, Israel Zalmanson, Silva Zalmanson, Anatolii Altman, Leib Khnokh, Boris Penson, Wulf Zalmanson, Iosif Mendelevich, Alexey Murzhenko, Yurii Fedorov); Mark Dymshitz and Eduard Kuznetsov receive the death sentence, eventually commuted to 15 years after strong international protests and personal intervention of President Nixon .
Stage VI: Cruel sentences in Leningrad trial ignite international campaign for Soviet Jewry – 1971-1972
|1971||Development of mass SJM in USA-Canada, Europe, England, South America and Australia Anti-Zionist trials: May 11- 20. Second Leningrad trial (Hillel Butman, Mikhail Korenblit, Lassal Kaminsky, Lev Yagman, Vladimir Mogilever, Solomon Dreisner, Lev Korenblit, Viktor Boguslavsky, Victor Shtilbans);May 24 – 27. Riga trial (Arkadii Spilberg, Rut Alexandrovich, Mikhail Shepshelovich, Boris Maftser);June 15-16. Sverdlovsk trial (Valerii Kukui); June 22. Odessa trial (Raiza Palatnik); June 21- 30. Kishinev trial (Anatolii Goldfeld, David Chernoglaz, Hillel Shur, Aradii Voloshin, Alexander Galperin, Harii Kirshner, Semen Levit, Lazar Trakhtenberg, David Rabinovich); September 19. Samarkand trial (Emiliya Trahtenberg);October 6-7. Another Leningrad trial (Boris Ozernikov-Yankelson).February 23-25. First World Conference on Soviet Jewry opens in Brussels attended by 800 delegates from 38 countries, including prominent Israeli leaders David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin. The meeting adopts the Brussels Declaration with a commitment to strengthen the advocacy movement, including the creation of a World Conference on Soviet Jewry to coordinate efforts.April. Jewish activists in the USSR issue The White Book of Exodus with scores of personal letters and appeals. It is smuggled out and published by the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry.
May. The Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry – “the 35′s”- is founded in England in response to the arrest of Raiza Palatnik in Odessa on her 35th birthday.
May. The Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry – “The 35′s”- is founded in England in response to the arrest of Raiza Palatnik in Odessa on her 35th birthday.
June 6. Adoption of a proposal by national Jewish organizations and local federations and community relations councils in the U.S. to reorganize the AJCSJ, to be renamed the National Conference on Soviet Jewry. A separate New York City entity is also approved, leading to the creation of the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry.
|1972||April. On “Solidarity Sunday” thousands participate in a public demonstration for Soviet Jewry in New York City’s Dag Hammerskjold Plaza near the United Nations. Organized by the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry (GNYCSJ), with the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ), over 100 local communities across the country organize parallel local demonstrations. “Solidarity Sunday” becomes an annual event, organized by the GNYCSJ, and discontinued in 1988 May 22-30. President Richard M. Nixon is in Moscow for a summit meeting with Leonid Brezhnev. Prior to his departure Nixon is presented with a petition containing over 1 million signatures urging him to raise the issue of Soviet Jewry. Soviet Jewish activists are imprisoned or placed under house arrest during the event. The subject of Soviet Jewry dominates press conferences. Series of anti-Zionist trials: Kharkov (Yuli Brind, June 1; Vainman brothers, September 7), Odessa (Yuri Pokh, June 17; Grigorii Berman, August 10), Moscow (Gabriel Shapiro, July 26; Mark Nashpits, August 2; Ilia Glezer, August 22), Sverdlovsk (Vladimir Markman, August 9).July 3. The Supreme Soviet of the USSR introduces a higher education levy on would-be emigrants, ostensibly to recoup education costs. It is seen by advocacy groups throughout the world as a “ransom” tax meant to deter Jews seeking to leave for Israel. Word of the education tax stirs protests in the West.
Stage VII: Struggle for Jackson-Vanik Amendment places plight of Soviet Jewry on superpowers economic agenda.
|1972||September 25-26. Following the education tax a National Conference on Soviet Jewry National Assembly is convened at B’nai B’rith headquarters in Washington, DC. Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson proposes legislation linking access to trade benefits for “non-market” (i.e. communist) nations to liberalizing their emigration practices.September 29 Senator Jackson presents the amendment to the Senate for the first time.October 10. Press conference of Moscow Jews in support of the Jackson Amendment.|
|1973||February 7. Congressman Charles Vanik co-sponsors legislation in the House of Representatives similar to that of Senator Jackson.Series of anti-Zionist trials: Tashkent (Yakov Yavor, January 14); Rostov (Lazar Lubarsky, January 31); Brest (Efim Potik, arrested March 15); Leningrad (Nikolai Yavor, April 2); Vinnitsa (Isaak Shkolnik, March 29- April 11); Derbent (Petr Pinkhasov, October 13); Kiev (Alexander Feldman, November 19); Sverdlovsk (Leonid Zabelishensky, December 20).March 20. After worldwide protests and Jackson-Vanik legislative initiative the education tax is suspended.June 16. Brezhnev arrives in the U.S. for visit June 16 – 25th. Prisoners of Zion in labor camps declare a hunger strike.October 6-24. The Yom Kippur War.
|1974||Anti-Zionist trials: Kharkov (Alexander Slinin, June); Novosibirsk (Yuri and Anna Berkovsky, June 25); Moscow (Mikhail Leviev, December 8); Vinnitsa (Mikhail Stern, December 31).June 27. President Richard Nixon’s second summit meeting takes place in Moscow, arrests of Jewish activists. The matter of the deprivation of rights for Jews is not resolved.December 20. The Jackson-Vanik Amendment is overwhelmingly approved by the U.S. Congress, making U.S. trade concessions and low-interest loans to any “non-market economy” (communist) conditional on “respect for the right to emigrate.”|
|1975||January 3. Following a two-year campaign, President Gerald M. Ford signs the Jackson-Vanik Amendment into law, ignoring Soviet objections.January 14. The Soviet Union repudiates 1972 trade agreement with the U.S. in response to passage of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment.Anti-Zionist trials: Moscow (Boris Tsitlionok and Mark Nashpits, March 31); Bendery (Sender Levinson, May 27); Odessa (Lev Roitburd, May 17); Kiev (Yakov Vinarov, August 15); Leningrad (Isaak Yulitin, August 27); Kharkov (Alexander Silnitsky, November 18).|
Stage VIII: Final Helsinki Act places emigration in the center of humanitarian cooperation between 35 developed countries – 1975-1979
|1975||August 1.The “Final Helsinki Act” is signed in Helsinki at the summit of 35 nations of Europe, US, and Canada. The Act, among other things, recognizes “human contacts,” the free movement of people, and the reunification of divided families as basic human rights. Leonid Brezhnev signs for the Soviet Union; the document becomes a global instrument for pressuring for human rights in the USSR, especially Jewish emigration.|
|1976||Anti-Zionist trials: Derbent (Lidiya Nisanova, January 16); Shakhrisyab (Avner Zavurov, December 26).February 17-19. Over 1,000 delegates from 32 countries attend the Second World Conference of Jewish Communities on Soviet Jewry in Brussels. Israel Prime Minister Golda Meir attends. The Soviet Union protests to the Belgian Government.May 12. The Public Group to Promote the Implementation of the Helsinki Agreements – “The Helsinki Monitoring Group in the USSR” is formed in Moscow, led by dissident Yuri Orlov.June 3. President Gerald M. Ford signs into law a bill creating a U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the “Helsinki Commission”) to monitor adherence to the Helsinki process. The Commission has the active support of the Soviet Jewry Movement and human rights groups.
December 21. Scheduled unofficial international symposium on Jewish culture in the USSR is banned by the authorities.
|1977||January 20.Soviet television premieres an hour long anti-Zionist documentary Traders of Souls, which specifies the names and addresses of Vladimir Slepak, Yosef Begun, Anatoly Sharansky and Yuli Kosharovsky.February 7. Arrests of members of the “Moscow Helsinki Group” Alexander Ginzburg and Yuri Orlov.March 15. Anatoly (Natan) Sharansky, a young Jewish activist and a participant in the human rights movement, is arrested on charges of treason and spying for the US. This is seen by Washington as a Soviet challenge to the humanitarian provisions of the Helsinki Final Act and an obstacle to US-USSR détente.Following Sharansky’s arrest, Congressional Wives for Soviet Jewry is formed in Washington, DC to serve as a public advocacy group. The initial co-chairs were Helen Jackson, Jeanette Williams, Paula Blanchard, and Joanne Kemp. The group also advocates for other Jewish Prisoners of Conscience in the Soviet Union, notably Ida Nudel.
May 1. 200,000 take part in New York solidarity rally supporting Soviet Jewry.
June 1. Anti-Zionist trial of Iosif Begun, Moscow
|1978||Anti-Zionist trials: Moscow (Vladimir Slepak, Ida Nudel, June 21, Mariia Slepak, June 26; Alexander Podrabinik, August 16); Tashkent (Yakov Kandidov, March 3); Tbilisi (Grigorii Goldstein, March 29); Zaporozhye (Simon Shnirman, June 27); Kishinev (Mikhail Roiz, August 16).July 10-14. Following a long trial Anatoly Sharansky is found guilty of espionage and treason and sentenced to 3 years in prison plus 10 years in a forced labor camp. On the same day Moscow dissident Alexandr Ginzburg is sentenced to 8 years imprisonment in a forced labor camp for anti-Soviet activities and propaganda and Viktor Petkus, chairman of the Lithuanian Helsinki Group – to 10 years imprisonment, as “an agent of foreign intelligence”.|
|1979||Anti-Zionist trials: Volgograd (Alexander Vilik, February 13); Leningrad (Boris Kalendarev, May 14); Derbent (Itshak Rubinov, October). April 19. Five Prisoners of Zion are pardoned by the Soviet authorities and leave for Israel: Boris Penson, Anatoly Altman, Leib Khnokh, Hillel Butman and Wolf Zalmanson.April 27. Soviet dissidents and Jewish activists, including Mark Dymshitz and Edward Kuznetsov, exchanged by America for two Soviet spies, arrive in New York City. Mark Dymshitz and Edward Kuznetsov are greeted at New York’s annual “Solidarity Sunday” before leaving for Israel.May. Authorities begin to halt emigration in provincial towns which had continued throughout the summer and included Odessa, Tashkent, Kharkov, Minsk, Kiev and other cities.
August. Inter-city seminar for Hebrew teachers in Koktebel.
December 25. Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Stage IX: Soviet invasion of Afghanistan opens new phase of Cold War between East and West, followed by crackdown on Jewish activities in USSR – 1980-1985
|1980||Anti-Zionist trials: Gorky (Leonid Volvovsky, January); Moscow (Igor Guberman, March 11; Iosif Begun, August 23; Dmitrii Shchiglik, September 19; Alexander Vilig, September 26); Dushanbe (Amner Zavurov, April 16); Odessa (Moisey Tonkonogii, April 28); Tashkent (Shmuel Rosenberg, June 2); Chernovtsy (Moshe Zats, June 2); Kiev (Valerii Pilnikov, June 20); Leningrad (Grigorii Geishis, August 8); Zaporozhye (Simon Shnirman, November 29).January 22. Andrei Sakharov, noted physicist and human rights advocate, is exiled from Moscow to Gorky after protesting the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. Sakharov is an outspoken supporter of Jewish refuseniks and their right to leave for Israel.July 19-August 3. Olympic Games, boycotted by 56 Western and Asian countries because of Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, solemnly opens in Moscow. Many Jewish activists are arrested for 15 days.October. The second inter-city Hebrew teacher’s seminar is held in Koktebel, Crimea. The seminar is attended by over 50 teachers from 9 cities.October 16. 7900 scientists worldwide halt exchanges with the Soviet Union in protest against the oppression and imprisonment of refuseniks and dissidents.November 11. Major forum to review the Helsinki Final Act opens in Madrid, with the U.S. delegation headed by Ambassador Max Kampelman. For several months the World Conference on Soviet Jewry,the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, Helsinki Watch and other organizations from European countries maintain an ongoing presence, circulating documents, organizing special events, meeting delegates, and briefing the media. Many Jews in Moscow, Kiev, Kharkov and other Soviet cities hold a hunger strike to coincide with the CSCE (Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe) Madrid Conference in protest against the recent cutback in Jewish emigration from the USSR.
November 13. Arrest of Victor Brailovsky, editor of the samizdat journal Jews in the USSR and organizer of the unofficial scientific seminar – beginning of crackdown of the unofficial Jewish activities in USSR.
|1981||January. Moscow Hebrew teachers Yuli Kosharovsky, Alexander Kholmyansky, Yuli Edelstein and Mikhail Kholmyansky begin the underground project on disseminating Hebrew instruction to provincial cities.March 3. The authorities put pressure on Hebrew teachers. Yuli Kosharovsky and Pavel Abramovich are threatened with arrest.April 27. The Soviet authorities prevent the holding of the cybernetics seminar organized by refusenik Professor Alexander Lerner in his apartment.Anti-Zionist trials: Kiev (Kim Fridman, May 15: Vladimir Kislik, May 27; Stanislav Zubko, July 22); Moscow (Victor Brailovsky, June 18; Boris Chernobilsky, December 9; Samuel Rombe, December 11); Leningrad (Evgenii Lein, August 6); Kishinev (Osip Lokshin, September 22; Vladimir Tsukerman, September 22); Kharkov (Alexander Paritsky, November 13).May 27. President Reagan receives Avital Shcharansky and Yosef Mendelevich, who was recently released from a Soviet prison after serving an 11- year sentence.September 2-8. “The Third Moscow International Book Fair” takes place with the participation of an Israeli delegation. Several books of Jewish interest are confiscated by the censors. The Israeli pavilion is very popular among Soviet Jews.|
|1982||Increasing pressure on Jewish activists and Hebrew teachers. Tens of Hebrew teachers are summoned to KGB and warned to stop teaching Hebrew or face arrests.March 2. The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously adopts a resolution calling on the Soviet Union to end the persecution, arrests and trials of Jewish activists; to remove obstacles to emigration; and to respect the rights of its citizens to practice their religion.March 4. U.S. Senate adopts a resolution calling for the Soviet Union to stop the persecution, arrests, and trials of Jewish activists; to remove obstacles to emigration; and to respect the religious rights of its citizens.Anti-Zionist trials: Sverdlovsk (Lev Shefer, April 6; Vladimir Elchin, April 6); Novosibirsk (Felix Kochubievsky, October 12).September 8. At a news conference in Moscow Elena Bonner, wife of Academician Andrei Sakharov, announces the dissolution of the Moscow Group for Furthering the Implementation of the Helsinki Agreements in the USSR. The group was established in May 1976 to monitor Soviet compliance with the human rights provisions of the Helsinki accords.September 30. Professor Alexander Lerner and other Moscow refuseniks are warned by the KGB not to meet visitors from the West.November 10. Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev dies. New leader is Yuri Andropov, former head of the KGB.|
|1983|| February 21. Ambassadors from 10 EEC countries (European Common Market) attending the Madrid CSCE review meeting assure representatives of the West European Jewish communities that Soviet Jewry will remain a primary issue at the meeting.Anti-Zionist trials: Zaporozhye (Simon Shnirman, Feb. 14); Moscow (Valeri Senderov, March 1; Iosif Begun – third trial, Oct.14; Vladimir Albreht, Dec. 15).March 15-17. Over 1,000 delegates from 30 countries attend the Third World Conference on Soviet Jewry in Jerusalem.April 21. The Anti-Zionist Committee of the Soviet Public is formed in Moscow to combat Jewish cultural and emigration activities.May 22.An estimated 180,000 people take part in a New York rally on the occasion of the 12th annual Solidarity Sunday for Soviet Jewry.May 25. Demonstrations protesting against the persecution of refuseniks were held simultaneously in New York, Washington, Paris, London and Lisbon.June 16. Yuri Andropov, former chief of the KGB, is appointed head of state.
Third trial of Yosif Begun on October 14 sentenced him to 7 years imprisonment and 5 years of internal exile.
November. Underground coordinating body of the Zionist movement called “Mashka” is founded n Moscow.
|1984||February. Death of Andropov; Konstantin Chernenko appointed general-secretary of CPSU.Beginning of a new wave of arrests of Hebrew teachers and other Zionist Movement activists: Riga (Zachar Zunshain , March 4); Moscow (Natalia Volshonok, May 17; Alexander Yakir, June 18; Alexander Kholmyansky, July 25; Yuli Edelstein, September 4); Odessa (Yakov Levin, August 10; Mark Nepomnyashchii, October 12); Kiev (Yosif Berenstein, November 12) ; Leningrad (Nadezhda Fradkova , Aug. 25); Chernovtsy (Yosif Zisels, October 19) and others.Lowest figures of emigration: 896 people exit USSR on Israeli visas in 1984.|
|1985||March 8. Two hundred and fifty Congressmen address a letter to President Reagan requesting the administration to set up talks with the Soviet Union, aimed solely at allowing freer emigration of Soviet Jews, in accordance with the Helsinki Accords.March 11. Mikhail S. Gorbachev appointed General Secretary of the Communist Party, after the death of Konstantin Chernenko. Gorbachev promises a policy of openness (glasnost) and restructuring (perestroika).Anti-Zionist trials: Chernovtsy (Leonid Shraier, January 1; Iosif Zisels, April 1); Kiev (Anatoli Vershubsky, May 7); Moscow (Alexander Kholmyansky, February 1; Vladimir Brodsky, August 18) Odessa (Mark Nepomnyashchy, February 4); Kharkov (Evgenii Aizenberg, June 6); Leningrad (Roald Zelichenok, August 8); Dnepropetrovsk (Evgeni Koifman, September 17); Gorki (Leonid Volvovsky, October 24).September: International Book Fair in Moscow: great success of Israeli exposition.November 19. The first summit meeting takes place between Reagan and Gorbachev in Geneva.|
Stage X: Perestroika and mass emigration 1986-1991
|1986||February 11. Early release of Anatoly Sharansky from imprisonment; his triumphant arrival in Israel; and reception by President Reagan in Washington (May 13).Anti-Zionist trials: Leningrad (Vladimir Lifshits, March 19); Tbilisi (Betsalel Shalolashvili, April 21; Alexey Magarik, June 6). Many activists are arrested on short term basis.October 11-12. The second summit between President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev takes place in Reykjavik. The meeting ended without agreement.December 16. Mikhail Gorbachev informs Andrei Sakharov by a personal phone call that he is free to return from internal exile to Moscow and may engaged in scientific work. Sakharov and his wife Elena Bonner return to Moscow on December 23. Two months later, in February 1987, 140 dissidents are pardoned and released. This period can be considered the real beginning of perestroika in the field of human rights.|
|1987||Early release of Prisoners of Zion: Roald Zelichenok (February 6, Leningrad);Vladimir Albrecht (Moscow);Iosif Begun (February 20, Moscow); Zakhar Zunshain (March 6, Riga);Iosif Berenstein (March 16, Kiev); Vladimir Lifshits (March 17, Leningrad); Valerii Senderov (March 18, Moscow); Yakov Levin (March 19, Odessa); Leonid Volvovsky (March 20, Gorky); Yuli Edelstein (May 5, Moscow); Alexey Magarik (September 14, Moscow).Increase in the figures of Jewish emigration: 98 Jews in January; 146 in February; 470 in March; 717 in April; 871 in May; 796 in June; 819 in July; 787 in August; 724 in September; 912 in October; 910 in November; 899 in December.December 6. A rally of eight thousand participants is held in support of Soviet Jews at the stadium in Tel Aviv with the participation of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and President Chaim Herzog. Telephone conversation was established with Moscow refuseniks. Yuli Kosharovsky addressed the rally from Moscow.December 6. The historic “Freedom Sunday” March on Washington, DC takes place on the eve of the first Reagan-Gorbachev Summit Meeting in the U.S. capital. A record 250,000 people participate in the largest rally ever organized in the U.S. on behalf of a Jewish cause. The event marks the peak of the Soviet Jewry advocacy campaign in the US, inspired by Natan Sharansky.December 7-10. Gorbachev-Reagan Summit in Washington|
|1988||Further rise in the figures of Jewish emigration and an easing of emigration procedures: 727 emigrants in January; 737 in February; 986 in March;1088 in April;1059 in May;1498 in June; 1169 in July; 1925 in August; 2373 in September; 2587 in October; 2874 in November; 4748 in December. This tendency will continue in 1989.Development of legal division of Jewish culture: non-official Museum of Jewish Culture (Moscow, January 21); Jewish Cultural Association (Moscow, September 11); Sokol Jewish Library (Moscow, September 14, 1987); Friendship Society with Israel (Moscow, July 10); Koretsky Jewish Library (Moscow, September 21); Koretsky Record Library (Moscow, October 11);Society of Friends of Jewish Culture (Minsk, October 11); Jewish Bibliophile Club (Moscow, October 13); Mikhoels’ Cultural Center (Moscow, October 20); Cultural Society “Shalom” (Moscow, October 28); Jewish Historic and Ethnographic Society (Leningrad, November 8); Jewish Cultural Society (Kiev, December 4).Meetings of refuseniks with foreign dignitaries and public figures: British Foreign Minister Geoffrey Howe (February 16); American Senators Levin, Nunn, Cranston and others ( March 8); American Secretary of State George Shultz (April 13); Edgar Bronfman (May 12); Richard Shifter (June 13); Isi Leibler (October 16); French President, Francois Mitterand (November 26); President B’nai Brith, Seymour Reich (December 12).May 29 – June 2. Reagan-Gorbachev Summit in Moscow. 13 well known refusenik families and a large group of Soviet dissidents are invited to a meeting with President Reagan at the residence of the American Ambassador in Moscow (Spaso House) on June 1. A number of widely publicized demonstrations took place in Moscow prior to the Summit.June 1. For the first time in the history of Russian-American relations the meeting of an American president with Jewish activists and dissidents takes place in Spaso House. Yuli Kosharovsky (Jewish national movement), Gleb Yakunin (Russian religious dissident ) and Sergey Kovalev (democratic movement) are among the key speakers. This historic event is widely publicized in the West.June 19. Israeli government organizes direct flights to Israel via Bucharest.Exchange of consular delegations between Moscow and Tel-Aviv: Russian consulate in Israel – on 12.07.1987; Israeli consulate in Moscow on 28.07.1988.
Anti-semitic organizations Pamyat (Memory), Otechestvo (Fatherland) and others strengthen their public anti-semitic campaign in form of demonstrations, meetings and distribution of anti-Semitic materials.
|1989||January: The Soviet delegation at the meeting of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) in Vienna approves the Final Declaration, which includes the Right to Leave and the Principle of Family Reunification.February 12: The Solomon Mikhoels Cultural Center, which is based at the Moscow Jewish Musical Chamber Theater, is dedicated February 12th. The opening ceremony is attended by many Jewish leaders and delegations from abroad. President of the World Jewish Congress, Edgar Bronfman, WJC Vice President Isi Leibler, and Elie Wiesel are among the speakers.October 1: Congress adopts Lautenberg-Spector Amendment on new rules of immigration to the U.S. from USSR which include a quota of 40,000 Jews a year and direct flights from Moscow to USA.December 18-21: Congress of Jewish Organizations and Communities in the USSR is held in the Moscow Cinema Center. It establishes the Vaad, an umbrella organization of Jewish cultural bodies. Mikhail Chlenov from Moscow, Yosif Zissels from Chernovtsy and Shmuel Zilberg from Riga are elected chairmen.|
|1990||Emigration from the USSR becomes practically free and mass emigration begins: 228,400 Jews leave the USSR in 1990, including 183,400 for Israel.|
|1991||Mass emigration continues: 187,500 Jews leave USSR in 1991, 147,500 for Israel.August 19-21: Unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Gorbachev’s rule – Three days of GKCHP [State Committee on the State of Emergency) coup.December 26: Session of the upper chamber of the Supreme Soviet adopts a declaration on the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which is transformed later into the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).|