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Women-refuseniks and their children. Moscow, Ovrazhki, 1979, co RS. Photo source: http://kosharovsky.com

Lesson of the Month


Ages: 10 & up  l   Length: 62 minutes

Show the film in your class or show it ONLINE to your students.

The 2016 award winning 62 minutes long documentary “Operation Wedding” tells the personal story of the Filmmaker’s parents, Sylva and Edward, leading characters of a group that in 1970 tried to escape the USSR to Israel by hijacking an empty plane.
This event was the first effective act that kickstartred the Soviet Jewry Movement and cracked open the Iron Curtain for approximately 300,000 Soviets Jews in the 70’s, compared to only 3,000 in the 60’s.
The group members were held back to pay the price of freedom for everyone else.

To view the full lesson, click here.

The Story Of the Refusenik Project

The Lookstein Center is continuously looking for educators, projects, and ideas to support, enhance, and disrupt the Jewish educational ecosystem. When we met Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov, a renowned Israeli filmmaker dedicating her life to sharing the story of her parents and the population of Soviet Jews, an obvious partnership was born.

The story of Soviet Jewry is one of Jewish solidarity, of bravery, and of the power of individuals to effect real change. The process of igniting Jewish identity in the USSR and of liberating the population was one of the most defining and unifying events of the last 50 years for the Jewish community, and yet there are so few organized resources for teaching this period.

While researching for her film Operation Wedding, Anat witnessed first hand that Jewish solidarity can change the course of history. She found rare archives, interviewed former key KGB members, and uncovered a web of lies, rewritten facts, and political secrets. She found that the collective memory of the plight of Soviet Jews is fading and that there is little documentation.

The Lookstein Center has created a collection of lesson plans and educational activities to complement these findings, and to teach the next generation that all Jews are responsible for one another and that every single individual can make a difference.

We also opened a public call for additional educational materials. We have been overwhelmed by the responses, not only by educators, but by Soviet Jews and children of Soviet Jews wishing to share their own stories. We have curated the submissions of artifacts, photographs, first-hand accounts, videos, and resources and are excited to share this free resource with the Jewish educational community.

Thank You

The creation of The Refusenik Project would not have been possible without the support, commitment, and passion of our generous donors and partners. Thank you.

Frank Brodsky  Gary Charlestein  Wendy Eisen Nativ  Glenn Richter  Adele and Joel Sandberg  Jewish LearningWorks  Morey Schapira  Peter Wexler   Sandra Spinner Pam & Leonard Cohen  Barbara Stern  June and Ron Daniels   Sheri and Paul Robbins ●  Union of Councils for Jews in the former Soviet Union (UCSJ) Enid Wurtman

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