Behind the Rescue of Russia’s Jews: Lessons for Galvanizing a Revolution

Sunday, October 29 2017, 3:00 pm

$5

Behind the Rescue of Russia’s Jews: Lessons for Galvanizing a Revolution Image

In an intimate setting, activist Pamela Cohen talks about her experiences in identifying and rescuing Jews from Soviet Russia at the height of the anti-Semitic violence during the 1970's and 1980's.

Guided tours available at 2pm and 4pm. 

In partnership with Jewish Women's Archive. 

Pamela Cohen, former President of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jewry, will describe the grassroots movement that ultimately opened the gates for millions of “Refuseniks” who had been oppressed and imprisoned inside the Soviet Union. The story of the movement, which brought Pamela into the White House and Moscow and back again, contains extraordinary lessons about galvanizing grassroots leadership and overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds; in his memoir, former Israeli Knesset member and Refusenik Natan Sharansky wrote that, in the end, an “army of students and housewives turned out to be mightier than the army of the KGB.” He was talking specifically about Pamela Cohen and the global grassroots network that frustrated his KGB tormenters while in prison.

From the suburbs of Chicago and eventually the heart of Washington, D.C., Pamela facilitated a global movement that was covertly fueled and orchestrated by the Refuseniks themselves, often at great personal risk. In doing so, she participated in briefings for President Reagan and Secretaries of State Schultz, Baker, and Rice, and regularly testified in Congressional hearings and briefings to Congress and the National Security Council. She spoke extensively at the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe’s international summits in Paris, Vienna, Copenhagen, Geneva and other locations during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, and led multiple delegations throughout the former Soviet Union, including Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and other republics.

She has received multiple honors, awards and honorary degrees for her work, including the Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Award, and in 1992 was invited to the White House State Dinner during the summit between Presidents George Bush and Boris Yeltsin. Her personal papers and records have been archived at the American Jewish Historical Society.

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