Ida Nudel

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Ida Nudel
Flickr - Government Press Office (GPO) - Prisoner of Zion Ida Nudel and Her Faithful Dog.jpg
Ida Nudel and her faithful dog arrive on a private plane, owned by Armand Hammer, at Ben-Gurion Airport
Born (1931-04-27) April 27, 1931 (age 87)
Novorossiysk, Krasnodar Krai, Russian SFSR
Nationality Israeli
Citizenship Israeli
Education Economic
Occupation Economist
Organization "Mother to mother" אם-לאם
Known for Former refusenik and an Israeli activist
Relatives Sister - Elena Ilana Fridman, Brother in law - Lev Arie Fridman, Nephew Yacov Fridman.

Ida Nudel (Hebrew: אידה נודל‎; Russian: Ида Нудель) (born April 27, 1931) is a former refusenik and an Israeli activist. She was known as the "Guardian Angel" for her efforts to help the "Prisoners of Zion" in the Soviet Union.[1]


Nudel was born in 1931 in Novorossiysk, Krasnodar Krai, in the Russian SFSR. In 1970, she heard of the Dymshits-Kuznetsov hijacking affair, and decided to emigrate. She contacted a Jew named Vladimir Prestin, a known refusenik who was secretly teaching Hebrew.[2] In 1970 she first sought an exit visa to leave the USSR, saying she couldn't stand its discrimination against Jews. The authorities refused, saying she possessed state secrets she had learned working for the Moscow Institute of Planning and Production. Her sister, Elena, received permission to leave with her husband and son in 1972.[1]

In the summer of 1972 she organized a hunger strike at the central office of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to protest the arrest of refusenik Vladimir Markman. After four days, the police ended the strike by blocking their entry.[3] She started a campaign for keeping contact with prisoners of Zion who called her "Mama" and "The angel of mercy".[4] She spread word about items the prisoners needed and were permitted to possess, and requested them from visitors from all over the world. These included vitamins, warm underwear and chocolate, as well as pens, cigarettes, and three-dimensional postcards, that could be exchanged with the guards for small favors.[5]

She soon lost her job. In June 1978 she placed a banner in her apartment in Moscow reading "KGB, give me my visa to Israel". She was sentenced to four years of internal exile.[4] She was sent to Krivosheino, on the River Ob, Siberia. For several months, she was the only woman in a factory dormitory, before finding herself a log hut and a job as a night guard at a truck yard. The KGB warned the residents of the village to stay away from her. She kept receiving letters of support and corresponding with prisoners of Zion. She was released on March 20, 1982, having been warned not to associate with any refuseniks or foreigners. After almost a year in constant movement as she wasn't allowed back to her flat in Moscow nor gain permit to live in any other place, she was permitted to live for five years in Bender, Moldova.[6]

From 1973 her sister Elena Fridman fought to bring her to Israel, contacting world leaders for help. In April 1984, Jane Fonda visited her, a meeting arranged by political activist and publicist Stephen Rivers.[7] The two became friends and Fonda launched a campaign for Nudel's release.[6] Others involved in the campaign included Liv Ullmann, and Israeli President, Chaim Herzog, left an empty place at his Passover table in her honor.[8] On October 2, 1987, she was informed she had been granted an exit visa.[6]

Immigration to Israel[edit]

On October 15, 1987 Nudel arrived in Israel. She was greeted at the Ben Gurion International Airport by Fonda, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres as well as her sister and thousands of Israelis. She was granted an Israeli identity card and immigration papers, and had a brief telephone conversation with United States Secretary of State, George P. Shultz. The welcome ceremony was broadcast on Israeli television.[8]

She settled in Karmei Yosef, an agricultural community in the Judean foothills.[9]

She wrote an autobiography: "A Hand in the Darkness". The movie Addio Mosca (Farewell Moscow) by Mauro Bolognini, starring Liv Ullmann, was a dramatized version of her ordeal.

In 1991, Nudel established "Mother to Mother," a nonprofit organization funded by donations from abroad, seeking to take the children of Russian immigrants off the streets and into after-school activities.[10] In 2001, she testified in the Jerusalem District Court in favor of Yuli Nudelman during Natan Sharansky's libel suit against him, who had published a book claiming that Sharansky was a former KGB agent with connections to the Russian mafia.[11] In 2005, she petitioned the Supreme Court of Israel to force Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to use any measures necessary to save the lives of fifteen jailed Palestinian collaborators facing execution,[12] and spoke against Israel's upcoming disengagement plan from Gaza and part of the West Bank.[13] In 2007, she filed a petition to the High Court of Justice demanding that Israeli Internal Security Minister, Avi Dichter withhold visitation rights from Hamas and Hezbollah prisoners in Israel, as long as the Red Cross was prevented from seeing kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldiers Gilad Shalit, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser.[14] In 2008, she moved to Rehovot.


  1. ^ a b Slater & Slater (2006), p. 192
  2. ^ Segal (1996), pp. 67–68
  3. ^ Segal (1996), p. 69
  4. ^ a b Slater & Slater (2006), pp. 192–193
  5. ^ Segal (1996), p. 72
  6. ^ a b c Slater & Slater (2006), p. 193
  7. ^ Chmielewski, Dawn C. "Stephen M. Rivers dies at 55; Hollywood publicist and political activist", Los Angeles Times, June 9, 2010. Accessed June 10, 2010.
  8. ^ a b Friedman, Thomas L. (October 16, 1987). "Soviet Emigre Starts Life as an Israeli". New York Times. Retrieved September 6, 2008. 
  9. ^ Steinberg, Jessica (5 May 2016). "A Home in Israel, With Eastern Influences" – via 
  10. ^ Deutch, Gloria. "Former Soviet refusenik Ida Nudel: Where is she and what is she doing?". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved September 6, 2008. 
  11. ^ "Sharansky Brings in Ida Nudel in His Libel Case Against Nudelman". 26 November 2001 – via Haaretz. 
  12. ^ Rosner, Tal (June 4, 2005). "Collaborators get surprise help". Ynetnews. Retrieved September 6, 2008. 
  13. ^ Marciano, Ilan (August 10, 2005). "70,000 protest pullout at Western Wall". Ynetnews. Retrieved September 6, 2008. 
  14. ^ Zino, Aviram (June 26, 2007). "Former prisoner of Zion against Palestinian visitation rights". Ynetnews. Retrieved September 6, 2008. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Segal, Sheila F. (September 1, 1996). Women of Valor: Stories of Great Jewish Women Who Helped Shape the Twentieth Century. Behrman House. ISBN 0-87441-612-4. 
  • Slater, Elinor; Robert Slater (June 1, 2006). Great Jewish Women (revised & updated ed.). Jonathan David Publishers. p. 368. ISBN 0-8246-0370-2.