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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CLEVELAND COUNCIL ON SOVIET ANTI-SEMITISM

CLEVELAND COUNCIL ON SOVIET ANTI-SEMITISM

The CLEVELAND COUNCIL ON SOVIET ANTI-SEMITISM, a grassroots organization, educated about the plight of Soviet Jews from 1963 until 1983, and, as the first such group in the world, spawned other local councils and a national organization. Jews living on Cleveland's west side, including Louis Rosenblum, Herbert Caron, and Abe Silverstein, created the council. Although not affiliated with BETH ISRAEL-THE WEST TEMPLE, many initial council members belonged there; the council periodically reported to the congregation's Social Action Committee.

Between 1964-69, the council developed educational tools, such as organizational handbooks for other communities, the newsletter Spotlight, and media presentations, and devised protest strategies that became integral to the Soviet Jewry movement. One of the council's most successful activities was the People-to-People program of the late 1960s, which educated a large number of people through one-to-one letter and "adoption" campaigns.

By 1969 there were 5 other councils nationwide, most established with the assistance of the Cleveland group; they formed the Union of Councils for Soviet Jewry in 1970. Rosenblum served as the first union chair, and the national headquarters were in Cleveland. The union was an all-volunteer organization until it established a small Washington, DC, office in 1972. The union included 18 councils by 1973; 10 years later 32 councils represented 50,000 members. Although the Cleveland council was still active in 1985, by the late 1970s the JEWISH COMMUNITY FEDERATION had taken over the major local organizing effort for Soviet Jewry. By 1993 the Cleveland Council on Soviet Anti-Semitism had ceased to exist.


Cleveland Council on Soviet Anti-Semitism Records, WRHS.

Links: The story of Soviet Jewry: an Exodus in our times