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Colorado Committee of Concern for Soviet Jewry Records

 Collection
Identifier: B093

Overview

Soviet Jews who wanted to emigrate from the Soviet Union were known as "Refuseniks." American Jewish students formed the Struggle for Soviet Jewry (SSSJ) in 1964 and the American Jewish Committee on Soviet Jewry (AJCSI) was also organized that year. Rabbi Samuel Adelman, rabbi of the BMH synagogue, spoke at Temple Emanuel and urged the liberal congregation to help Soviet Jews. Rabbi Raymond Zwerin, Sheldon Steinhauser, and Lillian Hoffman formed what became the Colorado Committee of Concern for Soviet Jewry (CCCSJ). The three founders were later joined Rhoda Friedman. Lillian Hoffman was the leading force behind CCCSJ and encouraged the organization to stage public demonstrations, which ranged from ten to 250 people. The first protest was in 1970 when 33 members of the Colorado group carried out a three-day fast on the steps of the state capitol to commemorate the Night of the Murdered Poets. The Colorado Committee was the first to commemorate this event and continued the protest annually. Many in the Denver Jewish establishment did not support public protests and the CCCSJ severed its ties to the Anti-Defamation League in 1976. Internal conflict marred the creation of the Babi Yar Park in Denver by the CCCSJ. In 1970, Rabbi Zwerin resigned from the CCCSJ and Lillian Hoffman resigned from the Babi Yar Park Foundation Committee. The goals of CCCSJ included public education as to the plight of the Soviet Jews, support for Soviet refuseniks in their efforts to emigrate, to help Soviet Jews retain their Jewish heritage, and to organize and promote the CCCSJ goals. The major activities of the CCCSJ included the Adopt-a-Family program and projects for the Soviet Jewish political prisoners known as Prisoners of Conscience (POC). The CCCSJ also educated public officials and U.S. Senator Henry Jackson took up the cause and had impact in an Amendment to a bill to grant special trade status to Russia. The Colorado Committee of Concern for Soviet Jewry ranked as one of the most active councils in the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews. Contains letters, educational materials, bulletins and published newspaper accounts of activities by world-wide, national and local groups on behalf of Soviet Jews. There are also two Lillian Hoffman scrapbooks.

Dates

  • 1929-1996
  • Majority of material found within 1968-1978

Creator

Biographical / Historical

Soviet Jews who wanted to emigrate from the Soviet Union were known as "refuseniks" because they were denied visas to leave for years. American Jewish students formed the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (SSSJ) in 1964 and the American Jewish Committee on Soviet Jewry (AJCSI) was also organized that year. Rabbi Samuel Adelman, rabbi of the BMH synagogue, spoke at Temple Emanuel and urged the liberal congregation to help Soviet Jews. Rabbi Raymond Zwerin, Sheldon Steinhauser, and Lillian Hoffman formed what became the Colorado Committee of Concern for Soviet Jewry (CCCSJ). The three founders were later joined Rhoda Friedman. Lillian Hoffman was the leading force behind CCCSJ and encouraged the organization to stage public demonstrations. The CCCSJ was the first Jewish group in Denver to have public protests, which ranged from ten to 250 person demonstrations. The first protest was in 1970 when 33 members of the group carried out a three-day fast to commemorate the Night of the Murdered Poets. The Colorado Committee was the first community to commemorate this event and continued the protest the Night of the Murdered poets annually.

Initially the CCSJ worked under the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, but many in the Denver Jewish establishment did not support public protests and the CCCSJ severed its ties to the Anti-Defamation League and the group also moved away from the National Conference for Soviet Jewry which they viewed as too "establishment" and passive. At this point the CCCSJ became a member of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews. These internal conflicts marred the creation of the Babi Yar Park in Denver by the CCCSJ. The goals of CCCSJ included public education as to the plight of the Soviet Jews, supporting Soviet refuseniks in their efforts to emigrate, and to help Soviet Jews retain their Jewish heritage. The CCCSJ organized, protested, and promoted these goals. The major activities of the CCCSJ included the Adopt-a-Family program, organizing rallies and vigils at the State Capitol pleading for the release of Soviet Jews, and the group had many projects for the Soviet Jewish political prisoners known as Prisoners of Conscience (POC). The CCCSJ also educated public officials and U.S. Senator Henry Jackson took up the cause and the organization had impact in his amendment to the Trade Act to grant special trade status to Russia. The Colorado Committee of Concern for Soviet Jewry ranked as one of the most active councils in the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews.

Extent

9.25 Linear Feet (15 containers)

Scope and Contents

Most of the records consist of letters, educational materials, bulletins and published newspaper accounts of activities by world-wide, national and local groups on behalf of Soviet Jews. Rhoda Friedman collected most of this material. The Records also have scrapbooks about Lillian Hoffman.

Arrangement

The Records are arranged in two series: 1. Records, 1968-1978. 2. Scrapbooks, 1929-1996.

Related Materials

The University of Colorado, Boulder holds a Colorado Committee of Concern for Soviet Jewry collection, 1970-1996. 74 linear feet (80 containers); finding aid at https://archives.colorado.edu/repositories/2/resources/635
Status
Completed
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

Contact:
2150 East Evans Avenue
Denver CO 80208
(303) 871-3428