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Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry Records

 Collection
Identifier: I-540

Scope and Content Note

The collection is divided into ten series.

The Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry include materials from the mid-1960s through 2001, and the bulk of the collection is dated 1970s-1980s. The documents include correspondence, memoranda, publications, news clippings, photographs, slides, ephemera, audio and video recordings and 3-D objects.

Dates

  • undated, 1962, 1965-2001
  • Majority of material found within 1970 - 1990

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in English, Russian, Hebrew, Yiddish, and French.

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 reference@ajhs.org

Historical Note

The Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry records 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.

The Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry (WCSJ) was a grassroots volunteer membership organization founded in 1968. The organization was renamed the Greater Washington Committee for Post-Soviet Jewry after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, and disbanded in 2001. The goal of the WCSJ was to help Jews emigrate from the Soviet Union and the Former Soviet Union regions, to aid Jews in the U.S.S.R. and the Former Soviet Union and to activate the Washington Community on behalf of Soviet Jewry. The Greater Washington Committee for Post-Soviet Jewry was dedicated to ensuring that Jews in the countries of the Former Soviet Union could lead lives in which their physical and spiritual needs were met. During the thirty-three years of its existence, the WCSJ took on a multitude of initiatives designed to raise awareness of the plight of Soviet Jewry. The Bar Mitzvah twinning program, Adopt-A-Refusenik Family, the Pepsi Boycott, and the Daily Vigil across the street from the Soviet Embassy, were some of the many activities that the WCSJ organized or participated in. Travelers to the USSR were recruited and instructed to carry out direct help to the families of the Refuseniks. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Committee continued to support those Jews who remained in the Former Soviet Union by supplying them with food packages, medicine, Judaic teaching materials and other essentials.

Extent

13.5 Linear Feet (26 manuscript boxes, 1 oversized box, 1 MAP folder)

Abstract

The collection contains records of the Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry, a grassroots volunteer membership organization that was founded in 1968 and existed until 2001. The organization was renamed the Greater Washington Committee for Post-Soviet Jewry after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Committee worked to raise awareness of the plight of Soviet Jewry in the United States and supported Jewish communities on the U.S.S.R. territories, during the rule of the Soviet regime and after its collapse. The records cover the period from the mid-1960s through 2001, and the bulk of the collection is dated 1970s-1980s. The documents include correspondence, memoranda, publications, news clippings, photographs, slides, ephemera, audio and video recordings and 3-D objects. Originally the collection was titled Papers of Carolyn W. Sanger, *P-870 by the name of the Committee's last president.

Arrangement

The collection is divided into ten series as follows:
  1. Series I: Correspondence and Administrative Materials, undated, 1967-1968, 1970-1975, 1977-2000
  2. Subseries A: Correspondence, undated, 1978, 1980-1995
  3. Subseries B: Administrative Materials, undated, 1967-1968, 1970-1975, 1977-1979, 1991, 1996-2000
  4. Series II: Soviet Jewish Refuseniks and Prisoners of Conscience, 1962, 1965-1966, 1969-1991
  5. Subseries A: Individual Files on Soviet Jewish Refuseniks and Prisoners of Conscience, 1969-1991
  6. Subseries B: Prisoners of Conscience, undated, 1962, 1965-1966, 1970-1973, 1975-1980, 1984, 1986
  7. Subseries C: Former Soviet Jewish Refuseniks, 1976-1980, 1982-1987
  8. Series III: Emigration from USSR, undated, 1970-1977, 1979-1980, 1986-1987, 1989-1990
  9. Series IV: Human Rights, Antisemitism and Legal Issues related to Jews in the USSR, undated, 1967, 1972, 1974-1982, 1984-1989
  10. Series V: Travel to USSR, undated, 1971-1979, 1981-1985, 1990
  11. Series VI: US Government, undated, 1968-1973, 1975-1991
  12. Series VII: Projects and Events, undated, 1967, 1971-1990
  13. Series VIII: Other Soviet Jewry Movement Organizations, undated, 1967, 1970-1972, 1976-1979, 1985-1986, 1988-1989
  14. Series IX: Publications, undated, 1965-1966, 1970-1994
  15. Series X: Photos, Slides, Audio, Video and Oversize Materials, 3-D Objects, undated, 1969, 1971, 1973-1990
  16. Subseries A: Photos and Slides, undated, 1969, 1971, 1973-1985, 1987-1988
  17. Subseries B: 3-D Objects, undated
  18. Subseries C: Audio Materials, undated, 1975-1986
  19. Subseries D: Video Materials, undated, 1989-1990
  20. Subseries E: Oversize Materials, undated, 1980, 1982, 1986-1987

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Acquisition Information

Donated by the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2007.

Digitization Note

Photographs in Series X, Subseries A: Photographs were digitized in their entirety. Blank versos were not digitized. The audio materials in Series X, Subseries C: Audio Materials were digitized and made fully available online with the exception of tapes 2, 3, 4, 19, 22, 23, 26, 27, 37, 38, 39, and 41, which are available onsite only due to copyright concerns. All unique, playable VHS tapes in Series X, Subseries D: Video Materials were digitized and made fully accessible with the exception of tape 11, which is limited to onsite access only due to copyright concerns. For duplicate VHS tapes, links were added to other digitized copies.

Related Material

The Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry records 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), 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), the papers of Joel Ackerman (P-787), Julia Mates Cheney (P-806), Jerry Goodman (P-863), Laurel and Alan J. Gould (P-866), 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) and Bert Silver(P-949).

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).

Processing Information

This collection was donated to AJHS as Carolyn W. Sanger Papers in 2007. It was processed under that title in 2009. Carolyn W. Sanger presided over the Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry/Greater Washington Committee for Post-Soviet Jewry from the early 1990's until its disbandment in 2001. In 2012 another president of the Committee who led the organization during the 1980s, Mrs. Sanger's predicessor Joan Dodek, suggested a more appropriate title and description for the collection. Considering that it spans the entire thirty-three years of the WCSJ existence and documents its activities under the leadership of several presidents it was decided that the more historically accurate title would be the Records of the Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry. The collection was renamed and the Finding Aid edited accordingly in December of 2012.
Title
Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry Records
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Andrey Filimonov
Date
© 2012
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Sponsor
Selective digitization of the Records of Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry (I-540) was made possible through a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). Digitization of audio and video was made possible through the generous support of the Blavatnik Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • August 2015: dao links added by Eric Fritzler.
  • April 2016: audio dao links added by Nicole Greenhouse.
  • July 2017: video dao links added, digitization note and sponsor statement updated, and filename simplified by Leanora Lange.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

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