A Mother Works Tirelessly to Reunite Children in Russia with Mothers in Israel

Lea Slovin has not seen her daughter for a year. She represents mothers who have not seen their children for as much as 28 years. These mothers and children are being separated by the Soviet Union’s refusal to allow Russian Jews to emigrate to Israel. “These are not political cases,” Mrs. Slovin said. “These are very emotional cases. There are 117 mothers and children separated from each other. They are not political people.” Mrs. Slovin, a grey eyed redhead, is in the United States to make the plight of these broken families public. She is trying to get public opinion to convince the Russians that families like hers should not be separated by national borders.

Mrs. Slovin, her husband Baruch, and two of their three children immigrated to Israel from Riga, Latvia, last year. Mrs. Slovin’s oldest, Noemi, who is now 20, was denied permission to leave. “They never give any reasons,” Mrs. Slovin said. “I have not had a letter from her in seven months, although I have spoken to her on the telephone a few times. She cries. In her last letter she wrote, ‘Mommy, I dream of you every night and when I wake up in the mornings I cry to be with you.’” Noemi lives with her father, Mrs. Slovin’s first husband, who has also been trying to leave the Soviet Union for Israel. He made his first application in 1961. “For many Jews in Russia, Israel is their historical motherland. They dream of going to Israel not because it is not good in Russia and it is good in Israel–although it is–but because Israel is their home. I dreamed all my life about Israel,” Mrs. Slovin said.

She and her family did not get an opportunity to apply for exit visas until 1966, when Mr. Slovin’s mother went to Israel and sent them an invitation to join her. Russian Jews are not allowed to emigrate to Israel unless they have an invitation from a relative. It took three years to get the visas for four of the five Slovins, even though Mrs. Slovin was a lawyer in Latvia who specialized in getting exit visas for Russian Jews. To get support for the 117 families in Israel who want to be reunited with their relatives in Russia–all of them parent-child relations–Mrs. Slovin has visited Rita Hauser, U.S. representative to the UN Human Rights Commission, and several U.S. Senators. “They were sympathetic. Each Senator understands mothers like me. I saw portraits of the Senator’s children on their tables and walls in their offices. They are fathers and they understand mothers.” Mrs. Slovin said she did not dare to hope that her meetings have changed her daughter’s situation, but they at least brought the emotional impact of the Soviet Union’s actions to the attention of the people in power.

NEXT STORY