Guide to the Records of Student Coalition for Soviet Jewry—Brandeis University, undated, 1977-1989 (bulk 1981-1987)
 
*I-493

Processed by Stephanie Call

American Jewish Historical Society, New England Archives

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Boston, Massachusetts

Phone: (617) 226-1245

Email: reference@ajhsboston.org

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Machine-readable finding aid created by Stephanie Call as MS Word document, December 8, 2008. Finding aid was encoded by Marvin Rusinek on January 14, 2009. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Student Coalition for Soviet Jewry- Brandeis University
Title: Student Coalition for Soviet Jewry—Brandeis University, records
Dates:undated, 1977-1989 (bulk 1981-1987)
Abstract: The Student Coalition for Soviet Jewry (SCSJ) was founded in 1977 in response to the arrest of Anatoly B. Shcharansky. Thirteen students from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts went to Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress about the problems faced by Jews in the Soviet Union. The numbers of students involved continued to grow, and expanded to include students from other colleges and universities in the United States. The Washington Lobby, which was held every February, provided opportunities for students to meet with members of Congress to educate them on the plight of Soviet Jews and urge them to get involved, either in letter writing campaigns or the adoption of Refuseniks. Students also participated in silent vigils in front of the Soviet embassy and met with representatives of the Soviet Affairs desk at the State Department. This collection includes correspondence, news clippings, newsletters, photographs, informational sourcebooks, and congressional monitoring reports.
Languages: The collection is in English.
Quantity: 2 cubic feet (2 document boxes)
Identification: I-493
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
Location: Located at AJHS, Boston, MA.
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Historical Note1

From the 1960s through the 1980s, the government of the Soviet Union began an official campaign of anti-Semitism, shutting down synagogues, squashing Jewish cultural activities, arresting Soviet Jewish citizens, and denying Jews the right to emigrate to Israel or the United States. Anti-Semitic news articles, television programs and books were on the rise, and Jewish students had difficulties getting accepted into universities or passing their classes.

The Student Coalition for Soviet Jewry (SCSJ) was founded in 1977 in response to the arrest of Anatoly B. Shcharansky. Thirteen students from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts went to Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress about the problems faced by Jews in the Soviet Union. The numbers of students involved continued to grow, and expanded to include students from other colleges and universities in the United States. The Washington Lobby, which was held every February, provided opportunities for students to meet with members of Congress to educate them on the plight of Soviet Jews and urge them to get involved, either in letter writing campaigns or the adoption of Refuseniks. Students also participated in silent vigils in front of the Soviet embassy and met with representatives of the Soviet Affairs desk at the State Department.

Many members of Congress were well-informed and responsive to the issue, including Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Senator Peter Wilson (R-CA), Representative Sam Gejdenson (D-CT), and Representative Nancy Johnson (R-CT), among others, who wrote letters, adopted Refusnicks, and visited the Soviet Union to meet with Refuseniks. Every year, the SCSJ invited members of congress to serve as Honorary Chairman or on the Honorary Committee.

In addition to the Washington Lobby, SCSJ instituted the first International Student Solidarity Day in 1982. Students across the United States, as well as those from other countries unable to travel to Washington, participated in rallies and lobbied their governments in conjunction with the Washington Lobby.

Primarily student run, SCSJ was well organized and was led by a committed group of students with Rabbi Albert Axelrad as their advisor. In addition to planning the growing Washington Lobby and International Student Solidarity Day, SCSJ held briefings with local experts on Soviet Jewry, including Donna Arzt and Alan Dershowitz, monthly meetings, and supported other programming related to Soviet Jewry. Funding and administrative support came from B'nai B'rith, but students were responsible for conducting fundraisers to attend the Lobby.

1 Historical Note based on documents in the Student Coalition for Soviet Jewry papers.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection contains correspondence; meeting notices, agendas and announcements; reports on contributions made to the Soviet Jewry movement by individual members of Congress, photographs, news clippings, newsletters, and Lobby sourcebooks with information for students participating in the Washington Lobby. A large portion of the collection includes the congressional monitoring reports that students wrote during their visits with congressional aides.

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Arrangement

The collection is arranged in two series, as described below:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to their fragility.

Use Restrictions

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society. Users must apply in writing for permission to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection. For more information contact:
American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011
email: reference@ajhs.org

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Related Material

Boston Jewish Community Relations Council, I-123
New England Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, I-237
Albert Axelrad Papers, Robert D. Farber University Archives, Brandeis University
National Conference on Soviet Jewry, I-181 (New York)
Richard Cohen Associates, Inc. I-314 (New York)
American Jewish Congress, I-77 (New York)
Jewish Labor Committee, I-377 (New York)
National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, I-172 (New York)
Subject Files, I-424 (New York)
Joel G. Ackerman Soviet Jewry Collection, P-787 (New York)
Julia Mates Cheney Papers, P-806 (New York)
Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, I-410 (New York)
Action for Soviet Jewry, I-487 (New York)
Richard Israel Papers, P-860

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); Student Coalition for Soviet Jewry—Brandeis University, records; I-493; box number; folder number; American Jewish Historical Society, Boston, MA and New York, NY.

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Container List

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

 

Series I: Washington Lobby, undated, 1977-1989

The Series is in English.
1.5 cubic feet. Boxes 1-2.
Arrangement:

Alphabetical by subseries and chronological.

Scope and Content:

This series includes correspondence, meeting notices and minutes, registration information, planning notes, and budget material relating to the planning, implementation and follow-through for the group’s annual Washington Lobby. Sourcebooks issued for the International Student Solidarity Days and the Washington Lobby have a wealth of information, including historical backgrounds, letters to Soviet Jews, and a lobbying guide. Names and colleges of the numerous student lobbyists are also in this series.

Also included in this series are the many congressional monitoring reports from each state's senators and representatives. These are notes on meetings with congressional aides as well as supporting documentation (correspondence, publications) highlighting what actions senators and representatives have taken on behalf of Soviet Refuseniks. Some of the more active congressional leaders included Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Senator Peter Wilson (R-CA), Representative Sam Gejdenson (D-CT), Representative Nancy Johnson (R-CT), among many others, who wrote "Dear Colleague letters" to fellow congressional members and government officials in the USSR, signed legislation, adopted Refuseniks, and visited the USSR.

Subseries 1: Correspondence, undated, 1977-1987

The Subseries is in English.
Box 1, Folders 1-4.
BoxFolderTitleDate
1 1-4 Correspondence undated, 1977-1987

Subseries 2: Government Involvement, undated, 1982-1989

The Subseries is in English.
Box 1, Folders 5-16; Box 2, Folders 1-2.
BoxFolderTitleDate
1 5 Congressional Letters, Speeches & Publications undated, 1983-1989
1 6-14 Congressional Monitoring Reports undated
1 15 Dukakis, Michael (Gov.) 1984-1986
1 16 Honorary Chairs & Committees undated, 1982-1987
BoxFolderTitleDate
2 1 Misc. Lists undated
2 2 Refusenik Adoptions undated, 1988

Subseries 3: International Student Solidarity Day, undated, 1981-1986

The Subseries in English.
Box 2, Folders 3-4.
BoxFolderTitleDate
2 3 Annual Information Packets 1982-1985
2 4 Correspondence & Related Materials undated, 1981-1986

Subseries 4: Organizational, undated, 1978-1988

The Subseries is in English.
Box 2, Folders 5-10.
BoxFolderTitleDate
2 5 Budget & Fundraising undated, 1982-1988
2 6 Drafts of Sourcebook 1986-1987
2 7 Meeting Notices, Agendas & Minutes undated, 1979-1988
2 8 Planning Notes undated, 1981
2 9 Registration undated, 1978-1988
2 10 Source Books 1979-1986
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Series II: General, undated, 1977-1988

The Series is in English.
.5 cubic feet. Box 2, Folders 11-21.
Arrangement:

Alphabetical by subseries and chronological.

Scope and Content:

This series contains information pertaining to SCSJ activities but not directly linked to the Washington Lobby. This includes photographs, pamphlets for other student organizations, SCSJ newsletters, publicity information, and other activities regarding Soviet Jewry but not held under the auspices of SCSJ.

Subseries 1: Activities, undated, 1978-1988

The Subseries is in English.
Box 2, Folders 11-17.
BoxFolderTitleDate
2 11 Misc. undated, 1984-1988
2 12 Misc. Programs undated, 1983-1987
2 13 Photographs undated
2 14 Prisoners of Conscience undated
2 15 Publicity (instructional) undated, 1982-1986
2 16 Publicity (press releases) undated, 1986-1987
2 17 SCSJ Events undated, 1978-1986

Subseries 2: Publications, undated, 1977-1987

The Subseries is in English.
Box 2, Folders 18-21.
BoxFolderTitleDate
2 18 Misc. Magazines & Newsletters 1978-1987
2 19 New Clippings undated, 1977-1987
2 20 Pamphlets & Brochures undated
2 21 Student Newsletters 1977-1987
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