Dear Friends / Дорогие друзья!
Welcome to myStory - the exciting new website created by HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, to preserve the dramatic stories of our emigration to America and to mark the 40th Anniversary of the Campaign for Soviet Jewry. This remarkable movement to Let My People Go helped more than two million Jews break through the Iron Curtain and start new lives in Israel, Western Europe, Australia and, of course, North America.
My family and I came to the United States with the assistance of HIAS in 1979. Indeed, over the past 40 years, HIAS helped almost half a million Jews from the former Soviet Union (FSU), but it also was instrumental in pressuring the Soviet government to let Jews emigrate and persuading the American government to allow Jewish refugees into the United States.
Share Your Story
If you are an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, like my family, I imagine you also were introduced to HIAS within hours of leaving the Soviet Union. HIAS met us at the Vienna airport and at the train in Rome and gave us local currency to use immediately. HIAS case workers helped us to fill out our emigration forms, arranged interviews at the US Consulate, and bought us tickets to travel to the United States. To this day, HIAS continues to help Russian Jews in America receive life-saving public benefits and educational scholarships, register to vote, organize self-help groups, and so much more.
Now the new HIAS website, myStory.hias.org, gives each Russian émigré another opportunity of a lifetime - to tell the story of his or her struggle and accomplishments, to pass on precious memories, to remember dear ones, and to express our hopes for the future. For while the official history of the movement is well-known, what is yet to be told are the personal experiences of ordinary Soviet Jews and non-Jews - people like you and me - who applied for exit visas despite severe pressure from the authorities and the risk of losing their livelihood, and who left everything behind in order to start a new, freer life.
If you are an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, I invite you to visit the Let My People Go Timeline, where you can read about key events in Jewish and world history. After registering, users receive a personal page on which they may record their experiences, memoirs, stories, poetry or anecdotes related to their emigration from the USSR and arrival in America. All forms of expression are welcome, and I encourage you to contribute photographs, drawings, and official documents. You can add to your personal page whenever you like.
If you are not an immigrant, you also are invited to browse the website and timeline, and read the stories posted online. Register to tell about your own activism, or simply about what this era meant to you. Through your registration, you may be reunited on-line with friends and others around the world whose lives you touched. Remember that all stories and photographs will be available to users browsing through the website as well as to visitors, scholars, and other internet users interested in this exciting period in history.
Dear friends, your memories and experiences are important to your family, to HIAS, and to all who care about the struggles of men, women, and children to be free.
Please register today, and visit often.
Sincerely / С уважением,
National Chair, myStory