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To view the press release, click here.

 

To bring the exhibition to your community, click here.  

 



 

Power of Protest: The Movement to Free Soviet Jews


On view in Philadelphia December 6, 2017 - January 15, 2018
Commemorating the 30th anniversary of Freedom Sunday
 

Soviet Jews posters

The personal stories of American Jewish activists and Soviet Jews – known as refuseniks – is brought to life in Power of Protest: The Movement to Free Soviet Jews, a new panel exhibition created by the National Museum of American Jewish History. The exhibition explores the significance of this dramatic, risky, and emotionally fraught social justice movement, what The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg has called “the most successful human rights campaign of our time.”

After World War II, Jews who lived in the Soviet Union were denied the rights to live freely, practice Judaism, or leave the country. A worldwide human rights effort on their behalf brought together organizations, student activists, community leaders and thousands individuals 
 and reached the highest echelons of the American government. The exhibition will serve as a reminder of the unique promise of religious freedom and our continuing responsibility to preserve and protect that freedom.

The exhibition highlights stories of everyday Americans who performed extraordinary acts of bravery to help Soviet Jews, from Leslie Schaffer of Reno, Nevada who used gum wrappers to discreetly transport information about refuseniks in 1982, to Constance and Joseph Smukler of Philadelphia who helped several well-known Soviet Jews win their freedom. Visitors will learn about individual refuseniks, from human rights activist and Israeli politician Natan Sharansky to Google co-founder Sergey Brin. A 1981 letter written by Sheryl Sandberg (now COO of Facebook) to her bat mitzvah “twin” exemplifies the thousands of American children who “twinned” their Jewish coming-of-age ceremonies with Soviet peers denied that experience.

Inspired by protest buttons popular across movements around the world, visitors can take home a button featuring the hashtag #PowerofProtest to celebrate the exhibition, commemorate the historic milestone, and highlight the contemporary significance of fighting for one’s beliefs. 
 
Power of Protest
is a small-scale, free-standing exhibition designed to travel to small galleries, libraries, synagogues, Jewish community centers, university campuses, and historic societies. To learn more about bringing the exhibition to your community, click here.


  
Current Location for Power of Protest
Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford/Mandell Jewish Community Center, West Hartford, CT: June 25 – August 31, 2018

    Past Exhibition Locations
    Ohev Shalom – The National Synagogue, Washington D.C. FEB 2018
    Fiedler Hillel at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL MAR 2018
    Iowa State Historical Museum, Des Moines, IA MAY 2018

    Upcoming venues:
    Rider University Multicultural Affairs, Lawrenceville, NJ OCT 2018

    Oregon Jewish Museum & Holocaust Edu. Center, Portland, OR DEC 2018
    Washington State Jewish Historical Society, Seattle, WA MAR 2019
    San Diego Center for Jewish Culture, La Jolla, CA SEP 2019

       



      Power of Protest was created by the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. The exhibition is supported, in part, through a Museums for America grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a government agency dedicated to advancing innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. The exhibition has also been made possible with the generous support of Genesis Philanthropy Group. Additional support provided by the Charlestein Family in memory of Malvina and Morton Charlestein.

      GPG logo     IMLS logo


      [Images, L to R] Poster, Freedom March for Soviet Jews, Library of Congress. Poster, Solidarity Sunday, New York, 1978, NMAJH, Gift of New York Coalition for Soviet Jewry. Poster, National United Jewish Appeal, NMAJH. Gift of David and Elaine Ravich.