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Involvement in the Soviet Jewry Movement by Louis Rosenblum

Webkeeper's preface
The story of Soviet Jewry an Exodus in our times.

In my view, the 'good news' story in post World War II Jewish history second only to the founding of the State of Israel is the escape of Russian Jews from Anti-Semitism and repression in the Former Soviet Union. They found freedom. More than a million Jews left for Israel; hundreds of thousands came to the United States. It was an Exodus in our times.


Within that great story is another story close to home. It's an inspiring tale of how a small group of Cleveland Jews transformed their thinking in their temple's Social Action Committee into action. They formed the Cleveland Council on Soviet Anti-Semitism, and then a national coalition of local councils. By helping to shape public opinion and by stirring our Jewish "establishment" to action they ultimately had an impact on Jewish history.

A year ago, when I met Dr. Louis Rosenblum, long-time leader of Cleveland's pioneering effort for Soviet Jewry, the story of this shining chapter in Cleveland's Jewish history was almost untold on the web. With his help I began working on a Soviet Jewry section of this website.

In April, when Dr. Rosenblum sent me an enlarged version of his memoir "Involvement in the Soviet Jewry Movement", I offered to make it the centerpiece of this Soviet Jewry section. It arrived as a 41 page Adobe Reader (pdf) document. Several pdf pages appear here as exhibits, but to achieve closer integration between narrative and exhibits I have de-composed most of the document and reassembled the text and images as web pages. He has approved this reorganization and some minor changes in the text. He has also furnished me some new material.

That this new section of is as large as our Abba Hillel Silver pages is entirely due to the contributions of Lou Rosenblum. We thank him for letting us publish the story of his involvement in the Soviet Jewry movement on these pages.

Arnold Berger   Cleveland Ohio   May 2008

A postscript February 2013

At a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the December 6, 1987 rally in Washington DC, where our city was well represented among an estimated 250,000 demonstrators, I realized that these pages have not told of:

  • The brief but vital period when the movement here was little more than the work of a small group in Beth Israel - The West Temple. See our new page by Dr. Herbert Caron, a co-founder of the movement

  • The resettlement effort here in Cleveland. Thousands of persons were involved, with volunteer, synagogue and agency efforts that showed our city and its Jewish Federation at their best.

  • The experiences of some whose lives were transformed by their exit from the Soviet Union and their resettlement in Cleveland.

A second postscript July 2017

  • Resettlement of Russian Speaking Jews to Cleveland
    Rachel Davidson, a Federation intern in August 2013, wrote a report on Resettlement. With the permission of Ms. Davidson and Federation, we were able to post that report. It shows Cleveland
    and its Jewish Federation at their best.

  • The Soviet Jewish Oral History project
    Funded by Federation and superbly executed by the Western Reserve Historical Society, went online inin May 2017. Our link is to page on the WRHS website.



This is a personal account of my involvement, from 1961-1978, in the beginnings and the growth of the Soviet Jewry movement in America. This piece was prepared June 2007 for inclusion in A Cleveland Jewish History Reader by the Kent State University Press. To this purpose, the content was confined in scope mainly to a limited number of local activities and in size to about dozen and a half pages. For this special edition I have augmented the original text with supplemental material.

Louis Rosenblum   Middleburg Heights, Ohio  April 2008

Subsequent additions to my chronicle:


Soviet Jewry activist Louis Rosenblum (l) and Cleveland Jewish History webkeeper Arnold Berger. Photo by Evy Rosenblum, at the Western Reserve Historical Society, May 13, 2008.


Cleveland's pioneering role in the freeing of Soviet Jewry can be understood in this memoir by its long-time leader, Lou Rosenblum.

To read the entire memoir, click on "Continue". Proceed page by page by clicking the "Continue" link at the bottom of each page.

To go directly to a topic of interest, click on "Table of Contents" which has links to every topic and every page.

Soviet Jewry Links

To learn more about the Soviet Jewry movement in Cleveland, in other cities and other nations, see our page of web links.

The memoir "Involvement in the Soviet Jewry Movement" is 2007 Louis Rosenblum and used with permission.

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