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Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry Records

 Collection
Identifier: I-507

Scope and Content Note

The Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry records date from 1972-1997 with the bulk in the late 1970s through 1980s. The collection includes administrative files, documents pertaining to various local and national institutions, programs and activities related to the Soviet Jewry movement, reports of trips to visit Jews in the U.S.S.R., information on U.S.-U.S.S.R. trade relations, Soviet laws and Soviet Antisemitism, information on Seattle’s sister city Tashkent. Besides the series with the general materials the collection features a series with files concerning Soviet Jewish Prisoners of Conscience, and Refuseniks and an audio-visual series with photographs of Soviet Jews and local and national coverage of the events related to Soviet Jewry.

Dates

  • undated, 1972-1991, 1997

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in English and Russian.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Executive Director 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 Executive Director 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:info@ajhs.org

Historical Note

The Records of Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry 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.

Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry was formed by Judy Lash Balint in 1974. Upon returning from a trip to the U.S.S.R., where she and her husband visited Refuseniks in Ukraine and Russia Mrs. Bailint felt the need to force the issue of Soviet Jewry onto the Seattle communal agenda. She initiated Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry and with the help of local attorney Leonard Schroeter made contact with other groups interested in the Soviet Jewry issue. In 1975 Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry became formally affiliated with Union of Councils for Soviet Jews. By establishing relationships with congressmen and senators the SASJ focused political pressure which produced significant successes on behalf of individual Refusenik and prisoner cases. For many years Seattle was a center for the Citizen Diplomacy movement which found the city hosting many delegations of visiting Soviet officials and major conferences. In May 1987 Seattle and sister-city Tashkent in Uzbekistan brought the U.S./Soviet Sister Cities Conference to Seattle. In July 1990 a conference on human rights accompanied the Goodwill Games in Seattle. At these events and others, such as the Phil Donahue "Citizens Summit" television exchange with Vladimir Pozner, the SASJ was pivotal in creating a coalition of local groups concerned with the issue of Soviet Jewry, and adherence to the principles of the Helsinki Accords. The vigilance of the SASJ and other local groups made their presence felt at the events mentioned above, as well as many other events, and helped to shape the agendas at these meetings.

Extent

6.5 Linear Feet (13 manuscript boxes)

Abstract

The Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry records documenting the activities of a human rights non-governmental organization on behalf of Soviet Jewry. The records date from 1972-1997 with the bulk in the late 1970s through 1980s. The collection includes administrative files, documents pertaining to various local and national institutions, programs and activities related to the Soviet Jewry movement, reports of trips to visit Jews in the U.S.S.R., information on U.S.-U.S.S.R. trade relations, Soviet laws and Soviet Antisemitism, information on Seattle’s sister city Tashkent. Besides the series with the general materials the collection features a series with files concerning Soviet Jewish Prisoners of Conscience, and Refuseniks and an audio-visual series with photographs of Soviet Jews and local and national coverage of the events related to Soviet Jewry.

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Provenance

The records were donated by the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2007.

Digitization Note

In 2014-2015, the USSR travel information and trip reports in box 9 folders 3-8 and box 10 folders 1-4 were digitized in their entirety with the exception of full newspapers and duplicates. The photographs in Series III were digitized in their entirety. Blank versos of photographs were not imaged. All unique, relevant videocassettes in Series III were digitized and made fully accessible in 2016-2017. Videocassettes 2 and 3 are limited to onsite access only due to copyright concerns.

Related Material

The records of Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry 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 Action for Soviet Jewry (I-487), the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ; I-181 and I-181A), the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (I-410, I-410A), Houston Action for Soviet Jewry (I-500), Bay Area Council for Soviet Jews (I-505), Medical Mobilization for Soviet Jewry, 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), 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) and William Korey (P-903).

Individual accounts of activities within the Soviet Jewry Movement are preserved in the UJA Oral History Collection (I-433), which includes accounts from members of the following organizations: the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, Bay Area Council on Soviet Jews (BACSJ), Seattle Action for Soviet Jews, Houston Action for Soviet Jews, Chicago Action for Soviet Jews, Colorado Committee of Concern for Soviet Jews and the National Conference on Soviet Jewry. Interviewees include accounts by Lillian Forman (BACSJ), Ann Polunsky, Morey Schapira, Myrtle Sitowitz, Deborah Turkin, David Waksberg, Sylvia Weinberg and Dolores Wilkenfeld. In addition, posters related to the Soviet Jewry Movement can be found in the Jewish Student Organizations Collection (I-61).

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 Boston, 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).
Title
Guide to the Records of Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry, undated, 1972-1991, 1997 * I-507
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Andrey Filimonov
Date
© 2011
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Sponsor
Digitization of trip reports and photographs was made possible through a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). Digitization of videocassettes was made possible through the generous support of the Blavatnik Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • February 2015: dao links added by Eric Fritzler.
  • July 2017: dao links for video added, filename simplified, digitization note added, and sponsor statement updated by Leanora Lange.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States