Oct 28, 2010

Bay Area visit by Natan Sharansky

Legendary figure Natan Sharansky to speak in Bay Area

At extraordinary personal risk and sacrifice, "Refusenik" Natan Sharansky, amongst others, became a spark that would ignite a global movement to free Soviet Jewry. 
Freedom Sunday March for Soviet Jews
Natan Sharansky at the Freedom Sunday march for Soviet Jews. December 6, 1987

On December 6, 1987, that movement drew 250,000 people from communities across North America to converge on the National Mall in one of the largest marches on Washington in American history. By late 1989, the Iron Curtain had fallen and the gates were opening to an unprecedented modern-day exodus. 

From 1990 to 1997, the Operation Exodus campaign* successfully raised $1 billion to rapidly rescue and resettle more than one million Soviet Jews in Israel and North America. This became one of the defining moments of Federation's centennial history, and demonstrated the power our community has to change the world. 

Next week, Federation is honored to bring Natan Sharansky, an emblem of the battle of Soviet Jews, to speak to Bay Area audiences in Stanford and San Francisco

After being denied an exit visa to Israel in 1973, Sharansky became a human rights activist and was one of the founders of the Refusenik movement which worked to earn freedom for Soviet Jews. Convicted in 1978 of treason, he was sentenced to 13 years in a Siberian labor camp. After being released in 1986, Sharansky made aliyah to Israel, and began working to help fellow new immigrants. 
Sharansky and wife upon their arrival in Israel
Natan and Avital Sharansky are welcomed in Israel by Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir. February 11, 1986
Today, Sharansky serves as Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel. With an agenda of strengthening Jewish identity, they are creating social action opportunities in Israel for both young Israelis and for Jews from abroad. The Jewish Agency is also working to enrich its continuum of programs in Israel for visiting teens and young adults. 

Learn more about Natan Sharansky's scheduled Bay Area appearances, November 1-2, 2010, in Stanford and San Francisco

* A partnership of the Jewish Community Federation, the Jewish Federations of North America, and the United Jewish Appeal 

Photos courtesy of Israel's Government Press Office and NCSJ

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Rabbis for Women of the Wall  ||  menachemcreditor.org 
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