National Conference on Soviet Jewry
|National Conference on Soviet Jewry|
National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ) is a leading US organization advocating on behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States, and Eurasia. It was started in 1971 as a volunteer organization and played an important role in the Soviet Jewry movement, including such landmark legislations as Jackson–Vanik amendment. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., it is now an umbrella organization of about 50 national organizations and 300+ local federations, community councils and committees.
NCSJ takes roots at the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry (AJCSJ) which had an inaugural conference the Conference in October 1963. The participants included Saul Bellow, Martin Luther King Jr., Herbert Lehman, Bishop James Pike, Walter Reuther, Norman Thomas, and Robert Penn Warren. This conference was followed by Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry started in April 1964. The organization was formally established in 1971, with the name change AJCSJ to NCSJ was approved on December 13, 1971.
The organization helped link Jewish emigration to trade restrictions, leading to increase of immigration of Jews from Soviet Union to Israel in the 1970s. On December 6, 1987, on the eve of the Reykjavík Summit, over 200 thousand people marched in Washington to support the struggle of Soviet Jews for their human rights. The rally was attended by George H.W. Bush, and a group of recently released refuseniks, including Iosif Begun, Yuli Edelstein, Ida Nudel, and Natan Sharansky.
Organization's current Chairman is Richard Stone, and President Alexander Smukler.