Before starting to teach about the Soviet Jewry Struggle, we recommend you give this short introduction.
In this lesson you can use a slideshow presentation of rare archives to show how the Soviet Media portrayed Jews and the Jewish Emigration Problem. The slideshow includes points for discussion and raises the main question: how can we recognize attempted brainwashing or “fake news” when it’s not about a subject that we are familiar with?
The documentary “Operation Wedding” tells the story of a group of Soviet Jews willing to risk everything, including their personal freedom, for a chance to escape the USSR and bring media attention to the struggle of Soviet Jews. Use the discussion questions provided by the filmmaker that highlight the history of the time and the choices this group made.
The Soviet Union forbade any unique religious ritual from 1917 onward. By the time the state of Israel was declared in 1948, the USSR thought that no one would feel a connection to the Jewish State because their ability to practice Judaism had been suppressed for so long. But, when Golda Meir, the first Israeli envoy and minister to the USSR, arrived on Rosh Hashanah, something unexpected happened.
PRESENT, PROTEST, & INSPIRE: LEARN THE ABOUT INDIVIDUAL REFUSENIKS AND PREPARE A PRESENTATION TO SAVE THEM!
In this activity lesson plan, where students to imagine that they are activists in the free world, advocating for Soviet Jews. Each group will will learn about a different refusenik, and come up with a plan for how to bring public attention to their refusenik’s case through drawing, writing, creating songs, speeches, collages, etc.
In this lesson, students will consider the connections between the civil rights movement, Jewish values, and the struggle for Soviet Jewry
The background information provided below is meant to introduce young children to the idea that Jewish people in the Soviet Union were not free to express themselves as Jews or to emigrate to a different country. The original lesson plan was written prior to 1980 and can be viewed in the materials.
Hanukkah is a time to celebrate miracles. Like the Jews in the days of the Maccabees, the Jews in the FSU were also prohibited from studying Torah and practicing their Judaism. In this lesson, we look at the theme of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, as a metaphor of hope in the face of darkness.
Hear the stories from the source! Invite local Prisoners of Zion, Refuseniks, and Human Rights activist to come and lecture and make history come alive! To search for an available Lecturers near you, or to add your contact information to the list, click HERE.
This commemorative program is a memorial to those killed on what is now called The Night of the Murdered Poets. The program, a narrative containing some of the poetry that survived that night, is particularly apropos for programs tied in with Tisha B’Av.
One was sang by Soviet Jews, trapped in the USSR: “Blue and White are the colors of my land, for now and ever after”.
The other was sang by Jews in Israel:
“Won’t you ask after, O Zion, the weal of your captive?”
Sing in Hebrew, and discuss the lyrics meanings and source.
The role of the women who stood up in defense of Soviet Jews and those women denied the right to leave the USSR.
Students will write a letter to a former refusenik or activist. This lesson is a culminating activity at the end of a unit, quarter, or semester. Students will have the opportunity to reflect and articulate on who inspired them personally, and ideals or actions they will incorporate into their own lives
There are many problems in the world today that could use some fixing. In this lesson you are challenged to think of a cause to champion in order to make the world a better place.
With a rare combination of basic mathematics and history, we will explain the USSR’s line of thought regarding the exit of citizens from its borders, the diploma tax they gave to strengthen the exit restriction, and the Jackson-Vanik Convention that imposed restrictions on trade between the US and the USSR.
Through a simple mathematical calculation, false claims and statements can be proven wrong. For example, the Soviet government stated that they let Jews out without any problem. For example, in 1968, 379 Jews left.
But how many Jews were in the USSR? How many asked for an exit permit and received a refusal? And how many were afraid to ask?
“SOVIET JEWRY DAY”: THE LIFE AND STRUGGLE OF JEWISH ACTIVISTS IN THE U.S.S.R. - 1977 SOVIET JEWRY CAMP KIT
Freedom Shabbat: Immersing students or campers into the life and struggle of Jewish activists in the U.S.S.R. - 1977 Soviet Jewry Camp Kit
This activity was designed to facilitate introspection and discussion about personal identity and Jewish identity and the relationship between the two.
In this lesson, students will learn about the struggle of the Soviet Jews in the 1970s, and different ways in which they fought back against the oppressive regime that denied them the right to emigrate.
Created by The Jewish Education Center of Cleveland, this lesson plan explores the ways in which the Cleveland Jewish Community, organized by the Federation, rallied around the issue of the Soviet Jewry struggle in December 1987. The central activity involves cooperatively learning about various community activities, their goals, and outcomes.