1969

HIAS

HIAS resettles 6,360 individuals, including 3,634 Jews from Poland, and more than 1,000 Jews from North Africa.
 

SOVIET UNION

Boris Kochubievsky, a Soviet Jewish engineer, is tried for "anti-Soviet slander" and sentenced to three years in a labor camp for requesting permission to emigrate to Israel. He becomes the first Zionist political prisoner of this era. Victor Fedoseyev, a non-Jew, founds Iskhod (Exodus), the underground samizdat bulletin of the emigration movement. In August, 18 Georgian Jewish families write to the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR) demanding the right to emigrate, the first such public appeal by Soviet Jews to the West. Other public appeals by refuseniks follow.

The Soviet Union and the U.S. begin Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty negotiations in Helsinki.

U.S./WORLD

Demonstrations on behalf of Soviet Jewry are held throughout the U.S. United Synagogue Youth and the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry sponsor rallies and teach-ins near the UN, which are attended by hundreds of high school and college students. The Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington conducts a two-week vigil outside the Washington Soviet Embassy to demand freedom for Boris Kochubievsky.

In July, the U.S. lands two astronauts on the moon, pulling ahead of the Soviet Union in the space race.


STATISTICS

  • Jewish emigrants from the USSR: 2,979
  • Soviet Jewish immigrants to US: 156
  • Soviet Jewish immigrants to Israel: 3,019

Looking Back

The outspokenness of Zionists in the Soviet Union and their public appeals to the West are a sign of changing times. Not for many decades have Soviet citizens dared to voice such open opposition to their government's policies.

The Soviet Union continues to refute the claim that large numbers of Soviet Jews wish to emigrate. At the same time, they continue to harass and stonewall those who apply for exit visas. As the 18 Georgian Jewish families who write to the UN declare, "Each of us had received an oral assurance that there would be no obstacles to our emigration. Each of us, awaiting a permit to leave form day to day, has sold his property and resigned his job. However, long months have passed -- and for some even years -- and the emigration has not been permitted."