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This is the place!
Review the history and struggle to free Soviet Jewry, discuss the mass Aliya of Russian Jewry; explain the joys and problems of absorbing so many new olim
- papers for each station
- strips of colored paper
- carrots or candy for bribing Soviet officials.
If we were living 15 years ago, this would be THE crucial topic we were teaching our chanichim about. Today it is not as vital, but it is still important for the chanichim to know about, just as the aliyot from other countries are important to learn about.
Background: In the 60’s several tens of thousands of Jews were allowed to leave the
Any Jew wishing to emigrate from the
- Receive a VYZOV, or affidavit, from a relative abroad, inviting you to join him. Jewish emigration is allowed by the Soviet government only on the principle of family reunion.
- Go to the Soviet Office for Visas and Permits (called the OVIR) and fill out a form with information such as family, parents, dates of birth, place of work.
- Acquire other forms of documentation. One of these is the KARAKTERISTICA, an evaluation from your place of work, signed by a local trade union representative. Merely upon application many Soviet Jews find themselves demoted or fired, often in the form of public excommunication by colleagues. Children in schools must also get one. This is often followed by ridicule from classmates and inability to graduate.
- A document from local housing committee in which all members of the family must sign the agreement to go. Parents, even of adults, must sign approval whether or not they are going.
- Return to the local OVIR, pay, $45, and wait up to 6 months at which time you receive a yes or no answer. Many people with important jobs are told no. People in high jobs therefore leave them for menial labor during the application period.
- If you are fortunate you receive a RAZREWENIA, a license from the Soviet government stating that you can leave the country. A race against time begins – you have 10-25 days to obtain many other documents in order to leave. Such as:
That you have resigned from your job and returned the work book that all Soviet citizens carry.
- That you have returned the trade union book, military service book, and resigned from school or university.
- That you have left your apartment in proper condition.
- That you paid $1,000 for each emigration family
- You then travel to
to the Dutch Embassy, which represents Moscow , where you undergo triple check by Soviet Officials. If all forms and documents are completed, you finally receive your passport. Israel
- Transit visas must be obtained from countries you must pass through on your way to
- Packing cases must be bought from the government as well as customs permits for what is taken out.
- You are allowed to take only $100 worth of goods. All extras and valuables must be left behind. You go through thorough customs checks at borders.
- You finally arrive in
and into the hands of the Jewish Agency, who take you to Vienna . Israel
Of course, once in
Game 1: Escape from
This is another type of station game. Each madrich will be at one station spread out anywhere in the Beit Knesset, giving out various documents. Chanichim can go to any station they want, but will find that various documents are needed before they can get others. For places with an insufficient number of madrichim, you can go around in groups, deciding jointly which station to go to, and have each madrich run the stations him/herself for the group they are with (In this case, the madrich may want to think of other tasks to make the chanichim do between stations). Madrichim can make things as difficult as they want to slow down chanichim, demanding to see specific other documents before processing a chanich. They may also confiscate documents they “suspect of being forged.”
Station #1: THE JEWISH AGENCY
At any point Chanichim may need to bribe Soviet officials. Bribe material is received here, in the form of some product, such as baby carrots or some candy. At a station, they may try to bribe the officials in order to obtain documents. Also the place to collect Black Passports, indicating that chanichim have finished and are ready to travel to
Station #2: Corresponds with step #1 above. Chanichim need to prove that they have relatives abroad by naming 4 cities in
Station #4: Chanichim must receive an evaluation from the place where they work. They need to have a red strip of paper to receive this. Then they must sing “I’ve been working on the railroad.” When finished, give them a blue strip of paper. This is also station #7. Chanichim with both a yellow and red strip of paper can turn them in for a brown one, indicating that they have resigned from their job and turned in their union book.
Station #5: You must get permission from your whole family. Chanichim must join up with three others who have the same colored hair as them and come together. If any do not have a red strip of paper, they cannot be processed. Upon completion, give them a green strip of paper.
Discussion: Obviously this pattern makes life a little difficult for the chanichim. Many of them may even get upset by this. Remind them how must more difficult it was for Russian Refuseniks and how much more they had at stake. Nonetheless they desired to go to
Have a game prepared for the chanichim who finish quickly, while waiting for others to finish.
Game 2: I’m going to
Have chanichim sit in a circle. The first one goes and says “I’m going to
Game 3: Israeli Word Association
For a new oleh there are many positive as well as negative aspects to Israeli life.
The chanichim are asked to call out as many words as they associate with
Discussion: When Russian Olim came to
Story: How they Taught Me I was a Jew by Alla Rusinek
You ask me how I came to the idea of leaving the
I was born in
I gave all my time to my school, my Pioneer organization and later the Young Communist League ---the Komosomol. I worked hard. And I was happy coming home later after school. According to Communist ideals “the individual must sacrifice his own personal interests for that of the socialist society at large.” And I loved my country, my Soviet people.
My? Yes, I thought it was mine. But there was something that made me different from other people. I happened to be born a Jew. I don’t know what it meant but it was written in my identity card: ‘yevreika.’ My Russian classmates insulted each other with this word. I saw it written in chalk on the walls of the houses. It was written very distinctly in my identity card and legalized by a round seal of the government. At the beginning of every school year the teacher asked everybody: “Your name and nationality.” I answered in whispers.
Little by little I began to understand what it meant to be Jewish. In 1961 I was not admitted to a special English high school. In 1966 I was not admitted to the
Well, in other words I understood at last. They don’t want me, I am a stranger, this is not my country. But where is a place for me? I began to be proud of being Jewish.
When I heard about
I was not alone in this struggle. There were thousands of us in Russian who came to the synagogue to sing. And among them was one, the most handsome boy in the
A week after our marriage I was informed that I had to leave the country within six days and alone.
Please, don’t ask me what I felt. I don’t remember. Perhaps I was in a deep shock. No, I didn’t cry. His family paid for me the sum the Soviets demanded for “renunciation of Soviet citizenship” – 900 rubles (nearly $1000). I never thought I owned such an expensive thing or I would have sold it and bought something nice. All these months I have hoped they would allow him to join me. We are husband and wife. One family. But he has not been allowed to leave.
You ask me what I think about
From the NY Times.
(After this article was published, her husband was given permission to join her in