Home » Grassroots Movements History

Resources Relating to the History of the Grassroots Soviet Jewry Movement

The resources and archival materials available through the Soviet Jewry Movement Archives Project’s website document the history of the grassroots Soviet Jewry Movement in North America (1963-1991), specifically the sustained grassroots efforts that ultimately contributed to the migration of more than 1.6 million Soviet Jews by the turn of the 21st century.

Starting in 1963 when the first organization - the Cleveland Council on Soviet Anti-Semitism - formed to advocate for Soviet Jews, and continuing for close to thirty years, individuals and organizations in North America and beyond sought to bring Soviet persecution of Jews to the attention of Western governments and to pressure the USSR to permit freedom of emigration. 

Grassroots Soviet Jewry organizations, operating outside of the established Jewish infrastructure, were a pioneering and powerful force in this human rights movement. Working in partnership with Soviet Jews themselves, these grassroots groups independently implemented public and governmental advocacy, pioneered personal connections with Soviet Jews, planned protests, and conducted educational programs, often utilizing strategies that contrasted with those employed by the established Jewish communal organizations.

The Soviet Jewry Movement is one of the best pieces of evidence of the impact individuals and grassroots organizations can have on modern-day policy.  The Soviet Jewry Movement Archives Project seeks to share the records of these grassroots efforts to accurately reconstruct the complex history of this movement.

Our Resources:

  • Union of Councils

  • Student Struggle

  • Other Grassroots Organizations

  • Print & Broadcast Media

  • Glossary