The Soviet Jewry Freedom Movement


Imagine living in a place in a place where you are persecuted and limited in your religious beliefs, yet when you try to escape, or leave by legal measures you are denied and are persecuted further. Although Soviet Jewry was hated by its leaders and constantly singled out and attacked, they were not allowed to leave, even when the State of Israel was established. How would you maintain your Jewish identity in a hostile environment? As a jew living outside the Soviet Union, how would you try to help? Students will learn about a group of Jewish activists known as Refuseniks who fought to help free the Jews of the Soviet Union, with a focus on Anatoly (Natan) Shcharansky’s inspiring life story. Thought provoking discussion prompts as well as engaging activities such as writing journal entries from the perspective of a Refusenik are featured in this resource.

The learner will:

  1. understand  the benefits and risks of  “risking it all” for the sake of one’s Jewish identity

  2. know what injustices Soviet Jewry faced in the mid 20th century, and how the Soviet Jewry Freedom Movement fought back

  3. be able to write a journal entry from the perspective of a Refusenik

Unpacked for Educators materials include:

  1. An educator’s guide that  contains many rich components. These are organized under the following titles: 

  • review (questions that relate to the video)

  • discussion

  • activities

  • reflection

  • further learning

  1. A video designed to spark interest in the topic.

Student handouts, computer, projector

The website link includes a “further learning” section in the educator’s guide.

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