Recently the 9th and 10th grade Humanities Honors students gathered at the JCC to interact with an exhibit entitled “The Power of Protest: The Movement of Soviet Jews.” The exhibit highlighted the numerous ways that American Jews supported the efforts of Jews in the Soviet Union to emigrate to other countries–particularly Israel and America– during the Cold War. Some of the ways American Jews offered support consisted of national and local protest movements, honoring a person at a bar or bat mitzvah who could not practice Judaism, and rallying through songs and sermons of universal brotherhood.
While at the JCC, students also had the opportunity to hear stories from two members of the SDJA family: Irene Lerner and Nataly Aizin. These SDJA parents shared their individual connections with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Each provided insight into the way the Soviet government treated citizens and Jews and the ways that treatment impacted the lives of their families.
Students left the seminar with a realization that life in other countries can be dramatically different from their own; that anti-Semitism continues today; and that a variety of techniques can be used to challenge discrimination effectively. Students are currently pondering a variety of prompts on how to apply that knowledge to their lives today!