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What Do Soviet Jewry Groups Do Now That USSR No Longer Exists?

December 27, 1991
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The replacement of the Soviet Union by a Commonwealth of Independent States has raised serious concerns about what the future holds for the Jews remaining there.

But the sweeping transformation also poses a more parochial dilemma for Soviet Jewry advocacy groups in the West: what to call themselves now that the Soviet Union has ceased to exist.

The Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry is sticking with its present name, which it boasts it has used since it was founded 28 years ago, when Nikita Khrushchev was the Soviet leader.

Glenn Richter, the grassroots group’s national director, said changing the name now would be pointless, since there may very well be a “coup of the week” in the new commonwealth.

The Union of Councils for Soviet Jews has yet to make a long-term decision on a name change, but for now will refer to itself merely as the Union of Councils.

“We’re not yet ready to complicate our lives with a new name,” explained Micah Naftalin, the group’s national director. Besides, he added, “Union of Councils is simple.”

The National Conference on Soviet Jewry said it is grappling with various options.

“I don’t think that we’ve come up with an easy solution,” said Martin Wenick, its executive director. But he added, “The name is less important than the mission.”

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