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Leonard S. Cahan Papers

 Collection — translation missing: en.enumerations.container_type.container: Consolidated Box P26, Folder: P-883
Identifier: P-883

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.

Dates

  • 1985-1986

Creator

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 mmeyers@ajhs.org.

For reference questions, please email: inquiries@cjh.org

Historical Note

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.

Extent

1 Folders

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

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.

Arrangement

The collection consists of one folder.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Rabbi Leonard S. Cahan and Mrs. Elizabeth Cahan in 2006.

Related Material

The Papers of Rabbi Leonard S. Cahan 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), 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) and Shaul Osadchey (P-882).

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 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).
Title
Guide to the Leonard S. Cahan Papers, 1985-1986 *P-883
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Andrey Filimonov
Date
© 2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Revision Statements

  • October 2020: RJohnstone: post-ASpace migration cleanup.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

Contact:
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