NCSJ launched its commemorations of the 40th anniversary of Soviet Jewry activism with a tour of the movement’s “secret sites.”
Legendary refesunik Iosif Begun and Motti Chlenov of the World Congress of Russian Jewry on Thursday led the delegation on a tour of Moscow sites that were integral to the struggle to free millions of Jews during the Soviet era.
Among other sites, the group visited the apartment of refusenik Vladimir Slepak and the Choral Synaogue, the site of mass demonstrations for religious freedom from the 1960s through the end of Communism in Russia.
“When I first met Iosif Begun it was in the hallway of a building near here,” Mark Levin, the NCSJ’s, executive director, told the group. “He had just come back from prison and in three months he would go back there.”
Addressing the group, comprised of American donors and NCSJ leadership, Begun talked about steeling his resolve with the knowledge of Jewish solidarity outside the USSR. “I never felt afraid,” said the 75-year-old Begun, “because I knew that I wasn’t alone.”
Together with the government of Israel and numerous Jewish organizations, the NCSJ is planning multiple events this year to honor the movement.
NCSJ, now known as NCSJ: Advocates on behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States and Eurasia, evolved from the National Conference on Soviet Jewry.