Guide to the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry collection, 1964-1990, 2016

I-362

Processed by Andrey Filimonov

American Jewish Historical Society

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 294-6160

Fax: (212) 294-6161

Email: reference@ajhs.org

URL: http://www.ajhs.org

© 2018  American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY. All Rights Reserved.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Andrey Filimonov in December 2017. Description is in English.
October 8, 2018 Dao link for box 3, folder 14 added by Andrey Filimonov.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry
Title: Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry Collection
Dates:1964-1990, 2016
Abstract: This collection documents the activities of a human rights grassroots organization on behalf of Jews in the Soviet Union. The collection features annual reports, calendars, general correspondence, announcement pamphlets, meeting fliers, banners used at rallies, miscellaneous speakers and conferences information, membership documents, and materials about engineering, legal, medical, youth, and women’s coalitions.
Languages: The collection is in English.
Quantity: 3 manuscript boxes, 1 OS1 Folder, 1 Textile Box, 2 digital files, 2 linear feet.
Identification: I-362
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
Location: Located in AJHS New York, NY
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Historical Note
Solidarity Sunday Poster by the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry

Solidarity Sunday Poster by the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry

The Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry (GNYCSJ) was formed in 1971 by the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies and the United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York, to address the need for an organization that would be devoted exclusively to the problems of Soviet Jewry.

The GNYCSJ served as the coordinating body of Soviet Jewry activities for more than 85 constituent Jewish organizations and community groups through the New York metropolitan area, with the affiliates in the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Jewish communities. The GNYCSJ conducted vigils, demonstrations, meetings, lectures, concerts, press conferences, and memorial services. Solidarity Sundays for Soviet Jewry, the GNYCSJ's influential series of annual mass demonstrations in New York City, attracted hundreds of thousands of attendees, and served as a model for similar demonstrations on behalf of Soviet Jews nationwide, culminating in the milestone Freedom Sunday national march in Washington, D.C. on December 6, 1987, co-organized by the GNYCSJ. It was attended by 250,000 people and is often referred to as the largest Jewish rally ever held in the United States. The breadth and complexity of its programming allowed the GNYCSJ to keep the Soviet Jewry issue in the public eye.

A major objective of the GNYCSJ was to collect, evaluate, and disseminate information on the developments in the Soviet Union, on the individual cases of Refuseniks and Prisoners of Conscience, and on the Jewish activist movement. Many of The GNYCSJ information-gathering activities had an explicit goal of testing Soviet adherence to the humanitarian provisions of the Helsinki Accords and of collecting evidence of Soviet abuses of those provisions. Most of the information came from the Americans traveling to the Soviet Union as tourists with the intent to visit Soviet Jews. Thousands of such travelers were briefed and debriefed by GNYSCJ.

The organization worked closely with the federal, state, and local government officials, helping put the Soviet Jewry issue on the agenda of the Soviet-American relations during the 1970s and the 1980s. The GNYCSJ collaborated particularly closely with politicians from the Greater New York area, including New York Senators Daniel P. Moynihan and Alfonse D'Amato, Governors of New York and New Jersey Mario Cuomo and Thomas Kean, and New York City Mayor Edward Koch. Informed and inspired by the GNYCSJ, they introduced resolutions, inserted statements in the Congressional Record, organized special orders, issued press releases, and participated in demonstrations, vigils, and news conferences on behalf of Soviet Jewry. The GNYCSJ coordinated the Congressional Adopt-A-Prisoner program in which each metropolitan area member of Congress had undertaken a wide variety of activities on behalf of a specific Jewish prisoner in Soviet labor camps.

The GNYCSJ coordinated publicity tours in the New York area by former Soviet Jews who had been imprisoned in the Soviet Union, or were relatives of Refuseniks trapped in the Soviet state, and assisted in a program to send packages with basic necessities to the Refuseniks who had lost their jobs as a result of their applications to emigrate. The organization prepared educational materials in Russian for Soviet Jews who were interested in Jewish learning. It worked with the Voice of America, a U.S. government-funded international radio station broadcasting in the Soviet Union, lobbying to secure a higher amount of radio programming for Soviet Jews. Its Operation Write-On and Project Yachad were letter-writing programs designed to link American and Soviet Jewish communities.

In the mid-1980s the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry was renamed the Greater New York Coalition for Soviet Jewry. The organization wound down its activities during the final years of Soviet Union when the restrictions on emigration for Soviet Jews were lifted under Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's program of Perestroika—restructuring of the Soviet political and economic system.

References

Annual Reports of the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry, 1976-1977, 1980-1984, Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry collection, I-362, Box 1, Folder 1 and Box 2, Folder 2, Collection of the American Jewish Historical Society, Boston, MA, and New York, NY.

Beckerman, G. (2010). When they come for us, we'll be gone: The epic struggle to save Soviet Jewry. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Lazin, F. (2005). The struggle for Soviet Jewry in American politics: Israel versus the American Jewish establishment. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books.

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Scope and Content Note

The first series of the collection contain general promotional, recruiting, and commemoration materials generated by the organization, primarily during the 1970s. The second series contains the papers of an individual senior staff member. They reflect the functions of the organization during the first half of the 1980s.

The collection consists of two manuscript boxes, one oversize folder, and one oversize textile box in the museum collection.

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Arrangement

The collection is arranged into two series as follows:

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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, N.Y., 10011 email: reference@ajhs.org

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Related Material

Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry collection is one individual collection within the Archive of the American Soviet Jewry Movement (AASJM) located at the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS). Other Soviet Jewry Movement collections at AJHS include the records of the Action for Soviet Jewry (I-487), the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (I-181 and I-181A), the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (I-410, I-410A), the Bay Area Council for Soviet Jews and Bay Area Council for Jewish Rescue and Renewal (I-505 and I-505A), Houston Action for Soviet Jewry (I-500), Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry (I-507), The Jewish Chronicle Soviet Jewry Collection (I-523), B'nai B'rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum Soviet Jewry Movement Collection (I-529), Chicago Action for Soviet Jewry (I-530), Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism (I-538), United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (I-543), Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans (I-547), Jewish Defense League (I-374), the papers of Joel Ackerman (P-787), Julia Mates Cheney (P-806), Jerry Goodman (P-863), Laurel and Alan J. Gould (P-866), Carolyn W. Sanger (P-870), Leah Lieberman (P-869), Si Frumkin (P-871), Elaine Pittell (P-873), Sanford A. Gradinger (P-880), Shaul Osadchey (P-882), Leonard S. Cahan (P-883), Doris H. Goldstein (P-887), David H. Hill (P-888), Margery Sanford (P-889), Pinchas Mordechai Teitz (P-891), David Waksberg (P-895), Pamela B. Cohen (P-897), Moshe Decter (P-899), William Korey (P-903), Morey Schapira (P-906), Charlotte Gerper Turner (P-907), Myrtle Sitowitz (P-908), Kathleen M. Hyman (P-911), Babette Wampold (P-912), Rabbi David Goldstein and Shannie Goldstein (P-918), Leslie Schaffer (P-923), Arthur Bernstein (P-925), Dolores Wilkenfeld (P-927), Sylvia Weinberg (P-928) , Irwin H. Krasna (P-934) , Constance S. Kreshtool (P-935), Betty Golomb (P-938), Grace Perlbinder (P-942), Mort Yadin (P-943), Ann Polunsky (P-886), Lillian Foreman (P-945), Marilyn Labendz (P-946) Abraham Silverstein (P-947), Bert Silver (P-949), Billie Kozolchyk (P-950), John Steinbruck (P-951), Lawrence I. Lerner (P-952), Ruth Geller Gold (P-953), Efry Spectre (P-954), Alan M. Kohn (P-956), Frank Brodsky (P-957), Victor Borden (P-959), Estelle Newman (P-960), Carol S. Kekst (P-961), Linda Rutta (P-965), Rachel Braun (P-967), Jack Forgash (P-968), Michael Greene (P-969), Judith A. Manelis (P-970), Fred Greene (P-971), Harry Lerner (P-972), Alan L. Cohen (P-973), Murray Levine (P-974), Jack Minker (P-975), Meta Joy Jacoby (P-992), Barry Marks (P-993), Harold and Judith S. Einhorn (P-996), Carol and Michael Bierman (P-1007), Bayard Rustin (P-1015) and Robert Mednick (P-1036).

American Soviet Jewry Movement Oral Histories Collection (I-548) contains audio and video interviews with activists of the American Soviet Jewry Movement, former Refuseniks and Prisoners of Conscience. It includes an interview with Alan Pesky, Chairman of the Coalition to Free Soviet Jewry, the name the GNYCSJ assumed in the mid-1980s.

American Soviet Jewry Movement Photographs (I-495) contains digitized photographs from The Archives of the American Soviet Jewry Movement.

American Soviet Jewry Movement Posters and Ephemera Collection (I-566) contains digitized posters and ephemera from The Archives of the American Soviet Jewry Movement.

Additional materials from other collections include records dealing with the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (SSSJ) located within the North American Jewish Students Appeal (NAJSA, I-338) and the records of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (NJCRAC, I-172). Related records are also located at the AJHS in Newton Centre, MA including memorabilia and ephemera of the New England Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (I-237) and the Records of the Student Coalition for Soviet Jewry – Brandeis University (I-493).

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry Collection; I-362; box number; folder number; American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY.

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Acquisition Information

Collected by the American Jewish Historical Society during the 1970s-1980s. Additional materials, arranged in boxes 2 and 3, and in the OS Textile Box were donated by Robert Eliot Lichtman in 2016 and in 2018.

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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.

Click the box in the request column to open the form that allows you to request a box for onsite viewing in the reading room at the Center for Jewish History, New York, NY.

 

Series I: Public Relations Materials, 1964-1983

The series is in English.
1 box, 1 OS1 folder.
Scope and Content:

This series documents the formative years of the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry and its activities in the 1970s and up the beginning of the 1980s. It is comprised of annual reports, calendars, general correspondence, announcement pamphlets, meeting fliers, miscellaneous speakers, and conferences materials. Membership materials and materials about engineering, legal, medical, youth, and women’s coalitions are also included. Press releases concerning protests and business meetings, newsletters and miscellaneous publications are also included.

BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
1 1 Annual Reports 1976-1977 request_box
  

See also: Annual Reports 1980-1984 in Box 2, Folder 2.

 
1 2 Correspondence 1971-1978 request_box
1 3 Fliers, Handbills, Direct Mail, Programs, and Brochures 1964-1978 request_box
1 4 Fliers, Handbills, Direct Mail, Programs, and Brochures 1964-1978 request_box
1 5 Freedom Wire Newsletter of the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry 1976 request_box
1 6 Invitation to the Greater New York Conference Reception in Honor of John V. Lindsay and Sister Rose Thering 1973 request_box
1 7 Mass Rally at Cooper Union Hall and Walkathon on Solidarity Sunday 1966, 1973 request_box
1 8 New York Engineers Committee for Soviet Jewry 1970s request_box
1 9 New York Legal Coalition for Soviet Jewry 1970s request_box
1 10 New York Medical Committee on Soviet Jewry undated request_box
1 11 New York Women's Coalition on Soviet Jewry 1970s request_box
1 12 Press Releases 1964-1980 request_box
1 13 Publications—Miscellaneous 1971-1978 request_box
1 14 Soviet Jewry Purim Puzzler—Book of Soviet Jewry-Themed Crosswords and Puzzles 1983 request_box
  

See also: Purim folder in Box 3, Folder 2.

 
1 15 Update—Newsletter of the Greater New York Conference 1972-1977 request_box
BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
OS1F 1 Calendar of the Greater New York Conference for 1978; Board game "Route to Freedom"; "Save the Soviet Jewish Prisoners of Conscience" poster by GNYSCJ 1976, 1978 request_box
  

"Route to Freedom" is an educational board game that was jointly produced and promoted by the GNYCSJ and Board of Jewish Education in 1976. The game was designed by a 14-year old Soviet Jewish girl Shosana Ramm to illustrate the complex and dangerous process of obtaining an exit visa necessary for a Soviet Jew to exit USSR.


See also: A digitized poster, nearly identical to the "Save the Soviet Jewish Prisoners of Conscience" poster in this folder, was found in the previously processed Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (I-410, I-410A) and can be viewed at this link: digital.cjh.org/2203368.

A digitized copy of "Route to Freedom" board game, found in the previously processed Action for Soviet Jewry (I-487), can be viewed at this link: digital.cjh.org/1995014

 
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Series II: Robert Eliot Lichtman Papers, 1980-1990, 2016

The series is in English.
2 boxes.
Scope and Content:

The series contains materials donated by Robert Eliot Lichtman who held the positions of the GNYCSJ's Director of Community Affairs and Assistant Director. It documents the GNYCSJ's activities during the first half of the 1980s in annual reports, publications and press releases, events agendas and programs, speakers' bureau kits, banners, policy papers and staff lists. Robert Lichtman's personal work is reflected in his correspondence with Refuseniks and other Soviet Jewry movement activists, his trip report, and photographs. The series also holds Lichtman's journal that he kept during his travels in the USSR in 1982, and a map of Moscow. The journal and the map contain coded contact information of Moscow Refuseniks. Also included is the article "Documenting the struggle for Soviet Jews" published in New Jersey Jewish News that details Lichtman's presentation on his Soviet Jewry movement activist at the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.

BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
2 1 ActionPack and Currents—Newsletters of the Greater New York Conference 1980-1985 request_box
  

Includes original artwork for the ActionPack newsletter logo by artist Jeffrey Packard.

 
2 2 Annual Reports 1980-1984 request_box
BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
4 (MUSEUM) 2016.039.001 Banner: A black, red and white textile banner that reads "Freedom for Soviet Jews (Sponsored by Coalition to Free Soviet Jews, Representing concerned organizations in New York City, Long Island, Westchester, Rockland and Bergen Counties; Supported by United Jewish Appeal—Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of Greater New York) 1983 request_box
  

Click here to view the banner in the American Jewish Historical Society museum collection catalog.

 
4 (MUSEUM) 2016.039.002 Banner: and a white and red textile banner that a stylized Israeli flag with the word СВОБОДА (Russian for "Freedom") written on it. 1983 request_box
  

Click here to view the banner in the American Jewish Historical Society museum collection catalog.

 
BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
2 3 Bimonthly Reports 1981-1983 request_box
2 4 Bulletins on the Soviet Jewish Prisoners of Conscience 1980s request_box
2 5 Chanukah 1980s request_box
2 6 Correspondence 1980s request_box
2 7 High Holidays 1980s request_box
2 8 Lists—Organizational, Board, Offices, and Staff 1984 request_box
2 9 Matzah of Hope Project 1980s request_box
2 10 Photographs 1980s request_box
2 11 Policy Papers 1987-1990 request_box
2 12 Press Clippings 1980s request_box
2 13 Press Releases 1980s request_box
BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
3 1 Programs 1980s request_box
3 2 Purim 1981-1984 request_box
3 3 Shabbat 1980s request_box
3 4 Sharansky, Natan 1981-1983 request_box
3 5 Solidarity Sundays 1980s request_box
3 6 Soviet Jewry Speakers Bureau Kit 1983 request_box
3 7 Speeches, Notes for Speeches, Programs, Announcements 1980s request_box
3 8 Symposium—"Soviet Jewry: The Realities in 1983" 1983 request_box
3 9 Thank You Letters, Leave-Taking Letters 1980s request_box
3 10 Tisha B'Av and Soviet Jewry —"Here we Sit and Remember Zion" Brochure 1982 request_box
3 11 Travel Journal and Map of Moscow; "Documenting the struggle for Soviet Jews"—Article published in New Jersey Jewish News on Robert Lichtman's Presentation on the Journal and the Map at the Jewish Federation of Greater Metro West NJ 1982, 2016 request_box
  

The journal contains coded contact information of Moscow Refuseniks, connected to locations on the map.

See also: Online version of the article "Documenting the struggle for Soviet Jews" can be viewed at this link: http://njjewishnews.com/article/32712/documenting-the-struggle-for-soviet-jews#.WjwjylWnGUl

 
3 12 Trip Report—"A Week in the Soviet Union" by Robert Lichtman 1982 request_box
3 13 World Conference on Soviet Jewry in Jerusalem 1983 request_box
3 14 Presentation—"Thinking Inside the Box, Or, Some Things I Did When I Had a Bit More Hair" by Robert Lichtman on his activism in the Soviet Jewry movement. 2016
  

Donated as a USB flash drive that contains a video recording and PowerPoint slides.

 
  View the item 
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