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Rufuseniks remembered in LA

A Californian museum has opened a new centre and exhibition dedicated to the story of Soviet Jews who fought for decades for the right to emigrate to Israel.

Based at the Wende Museum in Los Angeles, it was part funded by Ed Robin, an American philanthropist who helped organise a 250,000-man march on Washington to raise awareness of the Soviet refuseniks, after his 1982 visit.

Another to meet Soviet Jews was photographer Bill Aron, whose shots from his travels to Leningrad, Moscow and Minsk from 1981 are now on display.

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“The Soviet Jewish movement was one of the great causes of modern Jewish history and one of the greatest successes,” said Robin. “It has radically changed Jewish life everywhere.”

Curator Joes Segal said: “By presenting these more personal perspectives, we can see that history is not as straightforward or simple as people tend to think.”

During the 1950s and 1960s, up to two million Jews lived in the USSR, compared to 240,000 in Russia today. Most emigrated to Israel but many went to the US, including to LA.

The centre and exhibit are part of a wider effort to shine a spotlight on the history of Russian-speaking Jews, said Marina Yudborovsky, CEO of Genesis Philanthropy Group, which supported the initiative. “It’s been a good 30-50 years – and it is exactly that timeline when things stop being recent news and become history,” she warned.

Source: Jewish News

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