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Brighton & Hove Committee for Soviet Jewry 1

 The committee was active from the early 1970s until the release of Natan Sharansky from prison in 1986. The original 35’s were women who dressed in black and demonstrated on behalf of ‘refuseniks’, Jews who were not only refused visas to go to Israel by the Russians, but were also persecuted for their beliefs. We… Read more »

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 The committee was active from the early 1970s until the release of Natan Sharansky from prison in 1986. The original 35’s were women who dressed in black and demonstrated on behalf of ‘refuseniks’, Jews who were not only refused visas to go to Israel by the Russians, but were also persecuted for their beliefs.

We found that having men on the committee very much widened its appeal, and we also campaigned on behalf of non-Jews. Sonia Knufken was the lady who made banners for us, so that visiting Russians would know what our demonstrations were about, and she made telephone calls for us to our ‘adopted’ refuseniks, when they could not understand English.

We had personal interviews with Harold Wilson, Margaret Thatcher and Neil Kinnock, who all pledged support, as did prominent artists like Yehudi Menuhin, John Gielgud and Ingrid Bergman. We also had a tape of appeals from prominent refuseniks, read by people such as Flora Robson, Margaret Lockwood and Anthony Quayle.

Our special concern was for Alexander and Polina Paritsky and their two daughters, who lived in Kharkov, and several members made visits there, as well as writing and telephoning. Alexander was imprisoned by Lake Baikal, and we redoubled our efforts on his behalf.  Eventually he was released and allowed to go to Israel with his family.

Our demonstrations in support of Semyon Gluzman made local, and on one occasion national, TV, for whom one of our members appeared in chains. We also demonstrated for artist Boris Penson, for which we were joined by local artists. Often we would give visiting Russian artists a bouquet of flowers with a note inside in Russian, pleading for the release of a refusenik.

We felt that, in the end, we had contributed to the release of many unfortunate people.

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