Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Refusenik" Movie, Now on The Small Screen

A couple of years ago, we were privileged to be in the audience at the premiere screening of the documentary Refuseniks.  It was a very thrilling evening being in the same room with so many legends.

This week, last night and tonight, the movie is being broadcast on Israel's Channel One.

For my generation, the Save Soviet Jewry protest movement and being an active and dedicated member of SSSJ, Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry held great importance.  For some it was a form of "revenge" against the Nazis, a chance for children of Holocaust survivors to make up for their parents' suffering and the lack of world Jewish protest during Nazi rule.

Others, I among them, had no family Holocaust history.  For us it was the opportunity to fight for justice and human rights for Jews during the popular struggle for Civil Rights for Black (then called Negro) Americans.  We felt it important to find a Jewish issue to demonstrate for. 

It was during the time I became more and more involved in the Soviet Jewry movement protesting the closing of synagogues and lack of religious rights in the USSR that I became religiously observant.  I guess I had internalized the message I had once seen on a Jewish television show, called The Eternal Light.  The episode I remember best was broadcast after the publication of the Anne Frank Diary, possibly around Chanukah.  As I remember it, there was a discussion among two people about Nazi restrictions on Jewish celebrations and hidden Jews like the Frank family.
"If I found myself living in a country that forbade Judaism, for instance lighting a Chanukah menorah, I would risk everything to keep Jewish traditions."
"Today, it's not forbidden.  Why don't you observe/celebrate Jewish Laws and holidays?"
I heard this over fifty years ago.  That message burned into my soul. No doubt that it had great influence over my life.  That's why I dedicated my youthful energies and activism to save Soviet Jewry, became a Torah observant Jew and moved to Israel, specifically to Shiloh which was liberated in the Six Days War, the single greatest and most significant historic event in my adolescence.

G-d has been good to me.  I'm happy to say that I was on the "Absorption Committee" here in Shiloh during the large aliyah to Israel from the FSU, Former Soviet Union, and was able to facilitate the acceptance of those new immigrants to Shiloh.

The Refusenik movie brings back many memories.


Anonymous said...

One, two, three, four -
Open up the iron door.
Five, six, seven, eight -
Let my people emigrate!

Batya said...

Such "nachas" to see them here in Shiloh.