To the Editor:
The Op-Ed "Celebrate and learn from the Soviet Jewry movement" by Daniel Eisenstadt and Michael Granoff provides us with an immediate lesson to be learned: how the memory of the Soviet Jewry struggle can be misappropriated. The authors do note and give credit to a "generation-long struggle" and "grass-roots" activists, but constructing an entire memorial enterprise on 25 years since a very large demonstration in 1987 is wrong.
On May 1, 2014, it will be 50 years since the first mass public rally took place outside the Russian Legation to the United Nations. That is the true starting point. It also provides us with additional lessons to be learned — specifically, how an outsider group, quite non-establishment, initiated, led and persevered in a dual struggle against Soviet Russia and for too long, a complacent and even smug Jewish establishment.
I was there on the Manhattan sidewalk that day in 1964, and until and even after making aliyah with my wife, whom I met at a Soviet Jewry demonstration, I witnessed the so unnecessary energy and emotions required to be expended on the Soviet Jewry battle — a lesson I surely cannot forget.
Mark the 25th anniversary of the 1987 event, for sure, but use it as a lead-up to the 50th anniversary of the activist struggle for Soviet Jewry.
Shiloh, West Bank