In response to a request from the U.S. government, HIAS provides resettlement assistance to thousands of Cubans and Haitians who have fled their countries and reached Florida on homemade rafts and small boats.


A steep drop in the number of Jews permitted to leave the Soviet Union marks the beginning of a period of strict limits on emigration that lasts until 1987.


To protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. places an embargo on grain exports to the Soviet Union and leads a boycott of the summer Olympics in Moscow.

In a lawsuit filed by the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, the New York State Supreme Court overturns a 1971 injunction limiting protests in front of the Soviet Mission to the UN.

Solidarity, the first independent mass political movement to emerge in the Soviet bloc, mounts a strike in Gdansk that nearly brings the Polish government to its knees.


  • Jewish emigrants from the USSR: 21,471
  • Soviet Jewish immigrants to US 15, 461
  • Soviet Jewish immigrants to Israel: 7,570

Looking Back

Police prevent 200 Jews from holding a seminar on Jewish culture and history at the apartment of recently arrested refusenik Viktor Brailovsky and threaten his wife, Irina, with arrest. The authorities also crack down on religious classes held in private homes.

In January, dissident Andrei Sakharov is sent into internal exile in Gorky as punishment for his public protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and his call for the boycott of the summer Olympics in Moscow.

Vladimir Vysotsky, perhaps the most famous “bard” singer in the Soviet Union, dies. “Bard” music is performed only for small audiences in apartments or private clubs and often presents a less upbeat portrait of Soviet life than the government-sanctioned version. Tens of thousands attend his funeral and visit his grave.

One hundred thirty-nine Jews in Moscow and other cities mount a three-day hunger strike to mark the opening of the follow-up conference to the Helsinki Accords being held in Madrid.