POW! Persons of the Week: (immigration related) Refuseniks; term created by American Jews to describe people who weren’t allowed to emigrate from the USSR. For two decades, 1960s to 1980s, Refuseniks had been persecuted, beaten, arrested, discriminated against, mistreated, harassed and humiliated daily for being Jews who wanted to live in freedom. The Soviet Jewry Movement, the USresponse to this anti-semitism, was the most significant grass-roots political movement in the history of American and world Jewry, ultimately setting free millions of Soviet Jews who were eventually permitted to immigrate to Israeland the US. On December 6, 1987, 250,000 American Jews (14,000 of them from the Phila.area) gathered in Washington, DCto march and rally bringing attention and exerting pressure on officials who could effect change. This week marks the 25th anniversary of this historic advocacy. The Philadelphia Soviet Jewry Council and other Jewish organizations were instrumental in supporting dangerous trips to visit Refuseniks by teachers, activists, rabbis, and Congress members, bringing moral support, a link to the outside world and Judaica (books, dreidels, etc.). The coming to power ofMikhail Gorbachevin the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s, and his policies as well as a desire for better relations with the West, led to major changes, and most Refuseniks were allowed to emigrate. See websitewww.freedom25.net/march for first hand accounts of the Soviet Jewry rally. 
Folkshul families were very involved with a Soviet Jewish family, Linda and Alex Voloshen and sons Michael and Igor, helping them adjust to life in America and providing a Jewish community through Folkshul (including a Bar Mitzvah for Igor). We hope to host them at Folkshul this year, as a highlight of our immigration theme.