My wife and I, along with 200 others, including Natan & Avital Scharansky, Vladimir and Marina Slepak and a host of others who were at the center of the Soviet Jewry activist struggle between 1964 and 1989 or so, were present at the world premiere showing of the film, "Refusenik" produced by Laura Bialis, this evening at the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival.
As I have written previously (here), I was involved in the struggle starting in early 1964 having participated in the first public mass demonstration on May 1st that year, helping out at SSSJ, doing Betar activities and meeting my future wife while sitting on the sidewalk outside the Soviet UN Legation offices in Manhattan on Tisha B'Av 1967 and probably culminating in my trip to Moscow in November 1976.
The movie was quite an emotional experience. I saw on the screen David Sprung, Moshe Kiczales and the late Chuck Hornstein-Haran among hundreds of others in many demonstrations and rallies. Stars of the film from those years were Yaakov Birnbaum, Glenn Richter and Michael Sherbourne. There was Yossi Klein Haevi and others and, of course, the Russians.
Certainly, the movie could have done more. We were shown perhaps 5 seconds of Rabbi Meir Kahane speaking at a rally but nothing else about the JDL activities. Except for a Rome demo and some very too brief clips of seconds each, perhaps, the footage of the rallies and demos came from the US. Although Avital did mention the 35s, the film could have been more international. Yasha Kazakov's hunger-strike in front of the UN, a major attention grabber in March 1970 (he slept in my sleeping bag) wasn't included. Geula Cohen's early efforts, including a 1968 visit to the States, weren't included.
So, without further ado, here are some photographs:-
Some of the film's personalities on stage afterwards -
I can make out (from left to right): Yossi Klein Halevi, Yuli Edelshtein, Avital Scharansky, Marina Slepak, Natan Scharansky, Zev Yaroslavsky (in back), Hillel Butmann, Vladimir Slepak, Dina Beilina, 90 year-old Michael Sherbourne & cane.
And another (Laura Bialis is at the far left):
and some more personal pics:
Natan Scharansky and friend
Left to Right: Rosaly Yevin (Evnine), Barbara Oberman and Yisrael Medad.
Rosaly's late husband George was a major figure in the maintenance of phone communications with the refuseniks and my fellow traveler to Moscow. Barbara Oberman, of course, is the founder of the 35s group in the UK.
Left to Right: Bobby Brown, Yossi Klein Halevi and Yisrael Medad
and here's Rosaly, Barbara and my wife:
More articles on the early days here and here
Why is the term "refusenik" instead of "refusednik"? After all they didn't refuse; they were refused the right to emmigration. Odd that.