The Soviet Jewry Movement Archives Project was fromed to preserve and share the history of the grassroots Soviet Jewry Movement in North America. SJMAP's founders are former leaders in the movement and Jewish organizational veterans.

Collective action at the local level to affect change. 

Beginning in the early 1960’s the Soviet Jewry movement in North America was started by concerned individuals, first in Cleveland and then in NYC, at a time when the established Jewish organizations did little. These grassroots efforts spread and grew for the next 30 years to impact public and political advocacy on behalf of the Jewish community in the Soviet Union.

The story of Soviet Jews and the international effort to free them

  • Is an important lesson -- for all -- in the ongoing fight for human rights and against oppression.
  • Has tremendous meaning and educational potential for the enhancement of Jewish identity and Jewish solidarity.
  • Remains, more than thirty years later, a mostly untold story and an untapped resource.
  • Construct a website to aggregate and freely share this history.
  • Transfer historic materials from former activists to archives.
  • Establish consortium among archival sites.
  • Digitize materials.
  • Construct catalog and indexing system. 
  • Engage scholars, educators, and the public to utilize this material.
  • Create educational platforms and curricula based on these resources.

Soviet Jewry Movement Archives Project. Using the plural for “Archives” emphasizes that we are a hub for multiple archival organizations, pulling the history together to be viewed in a single location. And the acronym is SJMAP.  We pronounce it “S.J. MAP” as it also conveys our goal – to put the grassroots Soviet Jewry Movement “on the map” and to “create a map”, in this case a virtual hub – for locating the history of the grassroots movement in North America.

The Soviet Jewry Movement Archives Project is organized under IRS code 501(c)(3) and gifts are tax-deductible as provided by law.

SJMAP is a virtual hub available to everyone through our website. SJMAP itself has no physical structure, rather all of the historical records are located in archives, historical centers, and universities and are connected for your use at sovietjewryarchives.org.

Over the thirty years of grassroots efforts on behalf of Soviet Jews, there were  grassroots activists and organizations in multiple western countries including the United States, Canada, England, France, and Israel. SJMAP, at this stage of its work, has chosen to focus on the North American grassroots movement simply because we have to start this huge task somewhere. Once we help to move private collections to archival organizations, build connections with these archival organizations, help collections be digitized, and then aggregate these materials making them available via SJMAP’s Virtual Hub – then we hope to extend our mission to include grassroots archival collections from other countries.

There are multiple steps required for a single page of paper or a single sound recording to be prepared before it can be available on SJMAP’s Virtual Hub and then searchable by you. These steps include scanning each page or making a digitized copy of a sound recording. Then metadata needs to be applied to each item that uses key “finding” words, attributes the page ownership, original date of the item, and a brief description, among other steps. Some of these historical documents are old and must be carefully processed by hand. Some sound recordings are on reel-to-reel or cassette tapes. And sound recordings, once digitized, need to be transcribed to make them fully searchable and accessible.