Source: The Lookstein Center
The Lookstein Center is continuously looking for educators, projects, and ideas to support, enhance, and disrupt the Jewish educational ecosystem. When we met Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov, a renowned Israeli filmmaker dedicating her life to sharing the story of her parents and the population of Soviet Jews, an obvious partnership was born.
The story of Soviet Jewry is one of Jewish solidarity, of bravery, and of the power of individuals to effect real change. The process of igniting Jewish identity in the USSR and of liberating the population was one of the most defining and unifying events of the last 50 years for the Jewish community, and yet there are so few organized resources for teaching this period.
While researching for her film Operation Wedding, Anat witnessed first hand that Jewish solidarity can change the course of history. She found rare archives, interviewed former key KGB members, and uncovered a web of lies, rewritten facts, and political secrets. She found that the collective memory of the plight of Soviet Jews is fading and that there is little documentation.
The Lookstein Center has created a collection of lesson plans and educational activities to complement these findings, and to teach the next generation that all Jews are responsible for one another and that every single individual can make a difference.
They have also opened a public call for additional educational materials. They have been overwhelmed by the responses, not only by educators, but by Soviet Jews and children of Soviet Jews wishing to share their own stories. They have curated the submissions of artifacts, photographs, first-hand accounts, videos, and resources and are excited to share this free resource with the Jewish educational community.
The materials on the The Refusenik Project website are meant for children in elementary, middle, and high school and can be used in camps, youth groups, and other programming environments. They are designed to be flexible so that a range of educators—including teachers, counselors, and youth group leaders—will use them. Tweak, add, and subtract, as necessary.