(JTA) – On my bookshelves there are two rows of volumes on the Soviet Jewry movement. Squeezed in among the tomes is a small, well-worn paperback with pages no longer attached to the spine, “The Jews of Silence,” by Elie Wiesel. This slim volume is, however, a bridge. It crossed Wiesel and his readers over from his prior works, hearing the screams of those silenced in the Holocaust, to an eloquent challenge in 1966 to listen to the cry of our silenced but living oppressed brethren in the U.S.S.R.
While today one of every seven Israelis or their descendants is from the former Soviet Union (FSU), when hundreds of thousands of FSU Jews live in the United States and the West, when with the click of a computer button I’d just arranged a frequent-flyer point flight to Israel via Moscow on Aeroflot Russian Airlines, it is difficult to remember how ignorant North American Jews were – or willed themselves to be – about the quarter of world Jewry locked in the Soviet Union when “The Jews of Silence” was published. [Read more…]