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Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry Papers

Identifier: COU:3887

Scope and Contents

The Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry papers have been organized in the following manner: I. General files II. Prisoners of Conscience (POCs), Refugees, and Refuseniks


  • Creation: 1972 - 1991

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for access.

Conditions Governing Use

Limited duplication of materials allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Biographical / Historical

Soviet repression of Jewish religious and cultural rights and the refusal to permit Jewish emigration gave birth to the Soviet Jewry rescue movement in the 1960s. Small autonomous councils operated in a loose confederation until in 1970 the umbrella organization, the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (UCSJ), formed to coordinate a national presence for the movement. The success of the Soviet Jewry rescue movement still depended, however, on the the many councils located across the U.S. In 1974 Judy Balint returned from the Soviet Union where she and her husband had visited refuseniks in five cities in the Ukraine and Russia. Upon her return to Seattle, Washington she realized that the establishment organimtions, the Jewish Federation, Anti-Defamation League, and the American Jewish Committee, either expressed little enthusiasm for becoming involved with Soviet Jewry, or had engaged in merely limited, minimal efforts. She decided to found the Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry (SASJ) council in 1974, and with the help of local attorney Leonard Schroeter made contact with other groups interested in the Soviet Jewry issue. The SASJ became formally affiliated with the USCJ in 1975. In Seattle the SASJ forced the issue of Soviet Jewry onto the communal agenda. By establishing relationships with congressmen and senators the SASJ focused political pressure which produced significant successes on behalf of individual refusenik and prisoner cases. For many years Seattle was a center for the Citizen Diplomacy movement which found the city hosting many delegations of visiting Soviet officials and major conferences. A conference on human rights, for example, accompanied the Goodwill Games in Seattle in July 1990. Seattle and sister-city Tashkent in Uzbekistan brought the U.S./Soviet Sister Cities Conference to Seattle in May 1987. At these events and others, such as the Phil Donahue "Citizens Summit" television exchange with Vladimir Pozner, the SASJ was pivotal in creating a coalition of local groups concerned with the issue of Soviet Jewry, and adherence to the principles of the Helsinki Accords. The vigilance of the SASJ and other local groups made their presence felt at the events mentioned above, as well as many other events, and helped to shape the agendas at these meetings.


16.5 linear feet (11 Boxes)

Language of Materials



Records (1972-1991) documenting the activities of a human rights nongovernmental organization on behalf of Soviet Jewry. Founded in 1974 the group forced the issue of Soviet Jewry onto the communal agenda in Seattle, Washington. The materials include general files concerned with various aspects of the rescue movement, and files concerning prisoners of conscience, refugees, and refuseniks.


This collection is arranged in the following series: Series 1: General Files, 1960-1990 Series 2: Prisoners of Conscience (POCs), Refugess, and Refuseniks, 1979-1987

Processed by Harvey N. Gardiner, October 28, 1996
October 28, 1996
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States