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Student Coalition for Soviet Jewry at Brandeis University Records

 Collection
Identifier: I-493

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.

Dates

  • undated, 1977-1989

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in English.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for researcher use. Please contact us to request access or to make an appointment to view this collection at jhcreference@nehgs.org.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of this collection. For more information contact jhcreference@nehgs.org.

Historical Note

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.

References

  1. Materials from the collection.

Extent

2 linear feet (2 document boxes)

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.

Physical Location

Located in Boston, Mass.

Processing Information

Processed by Stephanie Call, 2009
Title
Guide to the Student Coalition for Soviet Jewry at Brandeis University Records, I-493
Author
Processed by Stephanie Call
Date
2009
Sponsor
Processed by Stephanie Call, Schilder Assistant Archivist, made possible by a grant from the Schilder Family Fund. This collection has been digitized, made possible by a grant from the Trustees u/w of Herman Dana.

Repository Details

Part of the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society Repository

Contact:
99-101 Newbury Street
Boston MA 02116 United States
617-226-1245