Leonard S. Cahan Papers
Scope and Content Note
The papers of Leonard Cahan focus on the imprisonment of the American Soviet Jewry Movement activist for demonstrating on behalf of Soviet Jews in front of the Soviet embassy in Washington D.C. on May 1st, 1985. The collection contains letters and telegrams to Rabbi Cahan from Jewish organizations and individuals, materials of the Washington Board of Rabbis, brochures with prison rules and regulations received by Cahan, paperwork regarding his admission and service at the prison camp, article from local and national press regarding the case. Materials include memorandums, correspondence, clippings and brochures.
The collection consists of one folder.
- Cahan, Leonard S. (Person)
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The Papers of Rabbi Leonard S. Cahan represent one collection housed within the Archive of the American Soviet Jewry Movement (AASJM). These papers reflect the effort, beginning in the 1960s through the late 1980s, of thousands of American Jews of all denominations and political orientations to stop the persecution and discrimination of Jews in the Soviet Union. The American Soviet Jewry Movement (ASJM) is considered to be the most influential Movements of the American Jewish community in the 20th century. The beginnings of the organized American Soviet Jewry Movement became a model for efforts to aid Soviet Jews in other countries, among them Great Britain, Canada, and France. The movement can be traced to the early 1960s, when the first organizations were created to address the specific problem of the persecution and isolation of Soviet Jews by the government of the Soviet Union.
Rabbi Leonard Cahan of Congregation Har Shalom in Potomac, Maryland served as president of the Washington Board of Rabbis, which sponsored demonstrations aimed to raise public awareness of the situation of Soviet Jews. During one such event on May 1st, 1985 Cahan with a group of over 20 rabbis and a Lutheran minister was arrested by D.C. police for violating the city code by demonstrating within 500 feet of the embassy, and ignoring police warnings to disperse. Rabbi Cahan was among the 8 rabbis sentenced to six months probation, a $50 fine and a suspended jail term. Five of the rabbis, Leonard Cahan, Steven Bayar, Bruce Khan, David Oler and Mark Levine chose to serve their 15-day sentences in jail, in order to show solidarity with, and stress the plight of the Jews of USSR, oppressed by the Soviet government. The rabbis were released after spending 12 days in the Federal Correctional Institute in Petersburg, VA.
Language of Materials
The papers of Rabbi Leonard S. Cahan focus on the imprisonment of the American Soviet Jewry Movement activist for demonstrating on behalf of Soviet Jews in front of the Soviet embassy in Washington D.C. on May 1st, 1985. Materials include memorandums, correspondence, clippings and brochures.
The collection consists of one folder.
Donated by Rabbi Leonard S. Cahan and Mrs. Elizabeth Cahan in 2006.
- Guide to the Leonard S. Cahan Papers, 1985-1986 *P-883
- Processed by Andrey Filimonov
- © 2010
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- October 2020: RJohnstone: post-ASpace migration cleanup.
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