Nudel’s Appeal for Freedom Publicized by a Noted Historian
Menu JTA Search

Nudel’s Appeal for Freedom Publicized by a Noted Historian

Download PDF for this date

An appeal to the West by refusenik Ida Nudel has been publicized by British historian Martin Gilbert. Gilbert, who campaigns worldwide on behalf of Soviet Jews and has written several books about them, wrote a letter on Nudel’s behalf for the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews.

Gilbert read this letter, which includes Nudel’s appeal for freedom, at a gathering in Tel Aviv on December 25 commemorating Prisoners of Conscience Day. At that time, Gilbert and Natan Shcharansky placed a phone call to a Moscow apartment in which refuseniks and former Prisoners of Conscience were gathered to discuss their present situation in light of the pardon of Andrei Sakharov.

The dissident physicist and spokesperson for human rights and Jewish refuseniks and prisoners was allowed to leave his six-year exile in the closed city of Gorky and return to Moscow with his wife, Yelena Bonner, who was also pardoned. Nudel is exiled to the closed city of Bendery.

“With the return of Academician Sakharov from Gorky to Moscow,” Gilbert wrote, “a leading dissident and courageous spokesman for human rights has been allowed home. Jews throughout the world recall with gratitude his long and out spoken championship of the right of the Jews of Russia to be reunited with their people in Israel…

“Academician Sakharov returns to Moscow, but one of those Jews on whose behalf he many times protested, remains in enforced exile in southern Russia, in the remote town of Bendery …. Ida Nudel…. first applied to leave Russia for Israel in the very year, 1971, in which Sakharov set up his Human Rights Committee.”


Gilbert noted that in Nudel’s letter of appeal she “writes of that festive moment when the people of Israel, and Jews throughout the world, light the candles which symbolize the resistance of the Maccabees.”

Nudel wrote: “Remember those who are so far off, so isolated by distance and hostility … whose life is being destroyed now in punishment cells, half hungry, half getting frozen for no crime at all, but only for being a Jew Remember those who, despite persecutions and harassment, will celebrate our holiday, who will light up candles, who will tell their children about the history and dignity of the people they belong to.”

Gilbert, writing from Oxford University. asked, “Is it beyond the ability of the Western world to end her sixteen-year separation from the Jewish State, to enable her to light the candles of freedom next year at her sister’s side?”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund