Exhibit also tells story of worldwide campaigns, protests and demonstrations in the US, Israel and elsewhere in order to secure the release of the Jews from the former Soviet Union.
By Sam Sokol
A new traveling exhibit showcasing the last 25 years of post-Soviet Jewish life in the State of Israel is set to open at the annual Jerusalem Post Conference at the Marriott Marquis in New York City this June.
The project – organized jointly by the Post and Limmud FSU – traces the journeys of contemporary Russian Jews: from life in the Soviet Union to their release, their arrival in Israel and finally setting down new-old roots in the country.
The exhibit also tells the story of the worldwide campaigns, protests and demonstrations in the US, Israel and elsewhere in order to secure their release.
“I’ve been working on curating this exhibition for the last couple of months and I am humbled to have realized to what extent the Russian-Jewish immigration beginning in 1990 has changed the face of the country in every way; probably more than any wave of immigration since the beginning of the state,” said exhibit curator and editor Asher Weill.
“In fact, it’s difficult to visualize what the country would have been like over the last 25 years had it not been for that massive immigration.”
The exhibit contains 50 photographs culled from the Post’s archives, the Israeli Government Press Office and a number of prominent photographers, including Robert A. Cumins.
Visitors to the exhibit will see photos from historical moments alongside noteworthy images of dramatic events from the late 1980s through today. The exhibit includes photos of many leading refuseniks, including Natan and Avital Sharansky, Yuli Edelstein, Ida Nudel, Yosef Begun, Vladimir Slepak and Avigdor Liberman, as well as key American figures who contributed to the historical effort: Presidents George Bush Sr. and Ronald Reagan, Senator Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson, Senator John Kerry, Edgar Bronfman, Ron Lauder, Malcolm Hoenlein and others.
“During the first two or three years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, more than a million Jewish immigrants, many of whom had for years been denied permission to emigrate, flooded into Israel,” said Limmud FSU founder Chaim Chesler, who developed the exhibit. “In this process, one of the largest voluntary human migrations in history, the face and nature of Israel was irrevocably changed for the better.”
The Post has played an important role in chronicling the saga of Soviet Jewry and its subsequent integration into Israeli society, making it the perfect partner to put on such an display, explained the paper’s CEO, Ronit Hasin-Hochman.
“As the leading journalistic brand in the Jewish world for the past 80 years, The Jerusalem Post has documented these historical moments and has made news of them for millions of people in Israel, the United States and across the world,” she said.
“Along with the Limmud FSU organization, we have made the decision to create this moving exhibit which will tell the incredible story of Soviet Jewry and those who have worked on their behalf to create a historical process which has changed the face of both the State of Israel and Jewish communities. The exhibit will be launched during The Jerusalem Post Group’s flagship event in New York and from there will visit different places in Israel and the rest of the world.”
Sandra Cahn, co-founder of Limmud FSU, and philanthropist Diane Wohl (both of New York) helped to underwrite the exhibit.
This article originally appeared in The Jerusalem Post; reprinted with permission.