Archive of the American Soviet Jewry Movement at the American Jewish Historical Society


"A Timeline of Historic Events, 1871-1991"


Polsky family arriving in Israel, December 1974.

The Soviet Jewry Movement marked a high point in organized American Jewish political effectiveness and foreign policy influence. As a wedge issue in the détente between the US and USSR, the movement played a significant role in the final years of the Cold War. With growing western awareness of the systematic Soviet persecution of Jews (and especially of the Refuseniks, those who unsuccessfully sought exit visas) a variety of organizations became active. These ranged from the conservative and mainstream associations that favored behind-the-scenes liaisons with branches of the American government, to grassroots and activist organizations that often employed tactics of direct action and confrontation.

Beginning in 1871, the timeline identifies events in Soviet history significant to the rights and treatment of Jews before and after the Russian Revolution, political events in the Soviet Union and United States that impacted the course of events, and the development of the American Soviet Jewry Movement and its sucessful outcome into the late 20th century.


Timeline written by Jerry Goodman, with editorial input from Pamela Cohen, Dr. Michael Feldberg, Professor Zvi Gitelman, PhD, Dr. William Korey, Mark Levin, Myrna Shinbaum, and Philip Spiegel.

For proposed additions or corrections, please email Susan Malbin at

View the ASJM Timeline