Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Short Memory

There's a new site up with this raison d'etre:

Twenty five years ago, when Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev made his first visit to Washington to meet with President Reagan, he was greeted by 250,000 Americans gathered on the Mall with the clarion call: "Let My People Go." It was the culminating event in a generation-long struggle to extend the universal principles of freedom — freedom to assemble, to worship, to travel — to the Jews of the Soviet Union...Freedom 25 was established to assure that the critical lessons of the Soviet Jewry movement are learned by future generations, so they can again be applied to expand the reach of freedom...

As a member of that "a generation-long struggle", when I joined the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry's first mass public demonstration on May 1, 1964, (and a second report) that 25 should really be at least 48.

From this thesis:

On April 27, 1964, however, about 200 college students from across New York City...declared the formation of the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry...Several young activists demanded immediate action. Birnbaum and Richter agreed, planning to stage a rally outside of the Soviet Union’s Mission to the U.N. on May 1 (otherwise known as May Day, a major workers’ celebration in communist countries), just four days after the Philosophy Hall meeting. Despite hurried preparation, the SSSJ’s demonstration produced one of the first mass rallies of the Soviet Jewry Movement, as over 1,000 students from across Manhattan picketed the Soviet Mission for hours. The protesters marched two-by-two like the  early civil rights protests in the south and sang “Ani Ma’amin,” a repetition of the Hebrew phrase I Believe over and over again.

And we can't forget Morris Brafman's group. And Moshe Decter.  The 1962 Matzah ProtestCleveland.

And I hope someone somewhere is planning to 50th anniversary of that seminal event.


1 comment:

Glenn R. said...

In your blog you reproduce the NY Times photo from May 2, '64. The guy shown is Tuvia, whose last name I can't recall, but was a ger tzedek. I kidded him when we began the demonstration that with his beard and hat, he'd be the archtypical Jew to the press. And he was!

- Glenn