[1]. Ironically, in the early 1960s, large numbers of American Jews were becoming politically active, but not in Jewish causes: Of the white civil rights activists who went to Mississippi as Freedom Riders, no less than 40 percent were Jewish. Cf. Paul Berman, A Tale of Two Utopias: The Political Journey of the Generation of 1968 (New York: W.W. Norton, 1996). Yet for most American Jews, the notion that an ongoing protest campaign could be organized for a Jewish cause was foreign, even vaguely threatening. Drawing noisy attention to Jewish issues challenged the instinct of diaspora Jews, ingrained over centuries, to keep a low profile.

      [2]. William W. Orbach, The American Movement to Save Soviet Jewry (Amherst, Mass.: University of Massachusetts, 1979), p. 34.

      [3]. Sue Fishkoff, The Rebbe’s Story: Inside the World of Chabad Lubavitch (New York: Schocken, 2003), p. 248.

      [4]. “Declare the Truth About Yaakov,” speeches given at an evening commemoration of Jacob Birnbaum’s forty years of service to the Jewish people, December 1986.

      [5] Hillel Seidman, “Fifty Years After the Passing of Nathan Birnbaum: The Father of the Teshuva Movement,” Jewish Press, April 24, 1987, p. 56A.

      [6] Interview with Jacob Birnbaum, July 1972.

      [7] Jacob Birnbaum, “Algerian Tragedy,” Jewish Review 13:407 (July 1962), pp. 1, 8.

      [8] Orbach, American Movement, p. 20.

      [9] During this time, independent initiatives were also launched by American Jews frustrated by the establishment’s lethargy. The Cleveland Council on Soviet Anti-Semitism, founded in 1963 by several Reform Jews, became the prototype for adult anti-establishment Soviet Jewry groups around the country. In New York, a Revisionist Zionist businessman named Morris Brafman formed the American League for Russian Jews, whose ambitions to create an activist campaign were never realized. Moshe Decter, who directed an institute called Jewish Minorities Research (unofficially initiated by the Israeli government), provided crucial documentation about the unique discrimination that Soviet Jews suffered and organized public forums that drew prominent intellectuals and civil rights leaders.

      [10] This was not entirely fair. The Conference did sponsor demonstrations, including a rally in Washington that drew 10,000 people and a similarly attended protest in New York’s Madison Square Garden. For a vigorous defense of the Conference, see Albert D. Chernin, “Making Soviet Jews an Issue: A History,” in Murray Friedman and Albert D. Chernin, eds., A Second Exodus: The American Movement to Free Soviet Jews (Hanover, N.H.: Brandeis, 1999), pp. 15-69.

      [11] SSSJ leaflet: “College Students’ Struggle for Soviet Jewry,” distributed at Columbia University, April 2, 1964.

      [12] Interview with Jacob Birnbaum, December 2003.

      [13] Over 50 percent of SSSJ activists, moreover, would later be active in the anti-war movement. Jim Schwartz, “A Study of Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry,” submitted to SSSJ leaders in May 1973.

      [14] Cf. Orbach, American Movement, pp. 30-31.

      [15] Orbach, American Movement, p. 29.

      [16] Jacob Birnbaum archives. A 1965 report to members about a meeting between SSSJ leaders and a Soviet Embassy official in Washington noted, “The discussion was tense but polite.”

      [17] Birnbaum archives.

      [18] Cited in Yossi Klein Halevi, Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist: An American Story (Boston: Little, Brown, 1995), p. 69.

      [19] Klein Halevi, Memoirs,p. 70.

      [20] It is one of history’s ironies that Kazakov, later known as Yaakov Kedmi, eventually became head of the Liaison Bureau and one of Israel’s foremost officials acting on behalf of Soviet Jewry.

      [21] Klein Halevi, Memoirs, p. 80.

      [22]One Israeli official who consistently supported Birnbaum was Meir Rosenne, who represented the Liaison Bureau in New York in the mid-1960s and later served as Israel’s ambassador to Washington.

      [23]. Birnbaum archives.

      [24]. Birnbaum archives.

      [25]. Interview with Birnbaum, December 2003.

      [26]. Author’s archives.

      [27]. Author’s conversation with Meir Kahane, August 1973.

      [28]. Janet L. Dolgin, Jewish Identity and the JDL (Princeton: Princeton, 1977), pp. 40-42.

      [29]. Orbach, American Movement, p. 159.

      [30]. “Save Soviet Jewry” 2 (1966), pp. 5, 7, cited in Orbach, American Movement, p. 27.

      [31]. Interview with Birnbaum, December 2003.

      [32]. See, for example, Murray Friedman, introduction to Second Exodus, pp. 1-14.

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