JERUSALEM (JTA) — A former refusenik who emigrated from Russia in 1991 was elected president of the advocacy group NCSJ.
Alexander Smukler, of Montclair, N.J., was chosen at the organization’s board of governors meeting Dec. 10 in Washington.
In a news release from NCSJ: Advocates on Behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia, Smukler said he was "honored" to take the post.
"It is very important for me to take this position as president in order to continue to support our efforts on behalf of Jewish communities in the former Soviet Union and to continue the struggle to combat hatred against Jews," he said.
Smukler is the board chairman of Century 21: Russia, Kazakhstan & the Ukraine, and the president and founder of the American Foundation for Orphans Abroad. He is a board member of the Russian Jewish Congress.
Before emigrating from Russia, he served as member of the board of the Vaad, or Confederation of Jewish Organizations and Communities of the USSR, and executive director of both B’nai B’rith of the USSR and the Jewish Information Center of Moscow.
Also at the board meeting, Richard Stone of New York City was elected NCSJ chairman, the lay head of the organization. Stone, the Wilbur H. Friedman Professor of Tax Law at Columbia Law School, is a vice president of the New York Jewish Community Relations Council and a member of many Jewish organizational boards. He is active in venture capital investing.
In 1971, Stone co-founded an organization lobbying on behalf of Soviet Jewry, including the 1975 Jackson-Vanik amendment. In 1973, he visited emigration-visa applicants and refuseniks in Siberia and Moscow.