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Carol S. Kekst Papers

Identifier: P-961

Scope and Content Note

The collection documents the activities of the vice-chair of the Committee of Concerned Scientists, Inc., Dr. Carol Schapiro Kekst. It contains background information on the Soviet state discrimination against Jewish scientists in the USSR and materials on some individual Soviet Jewish Refusenik scientists and dissidents--Victor Brailovsky, Yuri Orlov, Anatoly Sharansky, Andrei Sakharov, Ilya Piatetsky-Shapiro, Alexander Lerner, Eugene Levich, and others. The boycott of the State University of New York cooperative project with Moscow State University is also covered.

The materials include clippings, articles, correspondence, memos, releases, publications and reports.

The collection consists of one manuscript box.


  • undated, 1975, 1977-1982


Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers, except items that may be restricted due to their fragility, or privacy.

Use Restrictions

No permission is required to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection, as long as the usage is scholarly, educational, and non-commercial. For inquiries about other usage, please contact the Director of Collections and Engagement at

For reference questions, please email:

Historical Note

The Papers of Carol S. Kekst 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 Movement 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.

An educator in infant development, Carol Shapiro Kekst, became involved in the Soviet Jewry movement when she lived in Philadelphia during the 1970s, via the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews. In the mid-1970s, she took a trip to the Soviet Union where she visited prominent Soviet Jewish Refusenik activists, Vladimir Slepak, Ida Nudel, Anatoly Sharansky, and her own Russian Jewish cousin, Refusenik Lev Gendin.

At the end of the 1970s Dr. Kekst moved to New York City and took a position of an Instructor in Pediatrics at the Downstate Medical Center of State University of New York (SUNY), Brooklyn. She became a vice-chair of the Committee of Concerned Scientists (CCS), an organization dedicated to protecting the human rights and scientific freedom of scientists around the world.

CCS was concerned with the situation of the Jewish scientist in the USSR. The Soviet state openly discriminated against Jews in every field of science, barring or severely limiting education and employment opportunities. Those Jewish scientists who stated their intent to emigrate from the USSR were routinely denied exit visas. They were fired from their jobs and blacklisted in every professional field, having to resort to menial labor for sustenance and in order to avoid imprisonment for parasitism—being unemployed in the Soviet state. Their families were socially ostracized, threatened and assaulted. CCS monitored the Antisemitic tendencies in the Soviet sciences and kept track of individual victimized Soviet Jewish scientists. It kept U.S. elected officials informed on the systematic breaches of international human rights laws and the Soviet constitution by the government of the USSR. CCS gathered hundreds of signatures from American scientists who supported a national moratorium on scientific contacts with the Soviet Union.

As a representative of SUNY in the CCS, Carol Kekst was instrumental in staging a scientists' boycott of a cooperative project between the State University of New York and Moscow State University that was initiated in 1976.


1 Manuscript Boxes (1/4 linear foot)

Language of Materials



The collection contains papers of the American Soviet Jewry movement activist, Carol Schapiro Kekst. The materials focus on the activities of the Committee of Concerned Scientists, Inc. (of which Kekst was a vice-chair) in order to protect the Soviet Jewish Refusenik scientists from state persecution and discrimination, and to defend their right to emigrate.


The collection is arranged into a single series.

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Acquisition Information

Donated by Carol S. Kekst in 2007.

Digitization Note

This collection was digitized in its entirety with the exception of duplicates.

Related Material

The Papers of Carol S. Kekst 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 Jewish Defense League (I-374), 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), United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (I-543), 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), 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 Gerber 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), Bert Silver (P-949), Billie Kozolchyk (P-950), John Steinbruck (P-951) and Victor Borden (P-959).

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).

Guide to the Carol S. Kekst Papers, undated, 1975, 1977-1982 *P-961
Processed by Andrey Filimonov
© 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Digitization of the Papers of Carol S. Kekst (P-961) was made possible through a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Revision Statements

  • June 2015: Added dao links by Eric Fritzler.
  • November 2020: RJohnstone: post-ASpace migration cleanup.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States