Prisoners of Zion. 1984.

Yosef Berenshtein

Born in 1937 in Izyaslav, the Ukraine, in 1979 he applied for the permission to leave for Israel, but was refused. He began his fight for the right of emigration and repatriation, hold hunger strikes. Students who wanted to know Jewish traditions gathered at his home, and he taught them Hebrew, Jewish history and culture. In 1984 he was arrested, charged with “the resistance to arrest” and sentenced to 3 years of the imprisonment in the Gulag. He was released in 1987, and after obtaining the permission to go, went to Israel together with his family.

Alexander Cholmiansky

Born in 1950 in Moscow, he requested in 1978 from the Soviet authorities the permission to leave for Israel, but the request was not granted. In 1979 he began to teach Hebrew and trained many teachers of Hebrew. Since 1981 he led the project of the organization of ulpans in the provincial cities of the Soviet Union. Because of this activity he was pursued by the authorities and in 1984 was arrested and charged with “illegal possession of a fire-weapon”. He declared the hunger strike, and hold it for 207 days, 5 months from which he spent in the dungeon. After release he continued teaching of Hebrew, and only in 1988 he finally succeeded to go to Israel.

Yakov Levin

Born in 1959 in Odessa, he was active in the fight of Soviet Jews for the free repatriation to Israel. In 1984 he was arrested, charged with the Zionist activity and sentenced to 3 years of imprisonment in the Gulag. Spent 2 years and 7 months in the camps and in 1987 was released. In the same year he carried out his dream of repatriation to Israel together with the family. He was a member of the Council and Presidium of the Organization of the Prisoners of Zion.

Mark Nepomniaschy

Born in 1931 in Odessa, he participated in learning and teaching of Hebrew and in the preparation to the repatriation to Israel. In 1979 his family requested the permission to go to Israel, but was refused and persecuted by the authorities. He continued to propagate the idea of repatriation. Arrested in 1984, he was charged with the Zionist activity and sentenced to 3 years of imprisonment. Served his sentence in the prisons of Simferopol, Odessa and Nikolayev. He was released in 1987, and in the same year his dream was carried out: he and his family have arrived to Israel.

Alexander Yakir

He was born in 1955 in Moscow, in an assimilated, but dissident family. For the first time he applied for the exit visa in 1973 together with his family (his parents Eugene and Rimma Yakir and grandmother Clara Yakir). They were refused because of the security clearance forms of his mother. The second time he applied in 1977 and was refused without explanation of reasons. His Zionist activity began in 1977 after the second refusal. He participated in the collective appeals to the Congress of the USA, the foreign media and so forth. He was arrested on June 18, 1984 and in accordance with article 80, part 1, of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR - charged with “the efforts to avoid military service”. On the trial on August 10, 1984 he was sentenced to 2 years of imprisonment in the medium security camp YOU-323/2 in Lipetsk. He was released on June 18-th, 1986, and continued the Zionist activity even with more energy than before. In particular, he participated (together with D. Shwartzman, N. May, A. Chernobyl'sky and others) in the organization of the movement of the children of refuseniks (so-called “The second generation movement”). In December of 1987 he left for Israel. Lives now in the settlement of Barkan in Samaria.

The information was provided by Alexander Yakir.

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