“Silent No More”: Saving the Jews of Russia; The American Jewish Effort 1967-1989
By Henry L. Feingold
Syracuse University Press, 2007, 368 pp.
Although Feingold is mindful of the lot of Russian Jews before, during, and after the Soviet Union, he, as advertised, deals primarily with its resonance in the American Jewish community. The unhappy story of the Russian Jews is an old one, going back to the early nineteenth century and hitting its low point during the pogroms of the early twentieth century. Its modern chapter, written during the Soviet Union's last two decades, was remarkably complex, and Feingold recounts it lucidly with skill and detachment. Far more ramified than merely the fight to allow Jews to emigrate after 1967, far more tangled than simply the battle between the friends and the foes of U.S.-Soviet détente in the 1970s, and far more embedded in the American Jewish community's haunted guilt over an earlier generation's lack of action during the Holocaust than understood at the time, the issue of the Russian Jews brought to a head both the divisions among Jewish organizations and the junctures when Israeli and American Jewish priorities parted. But ultimately it also made of the "American Jewish effort" something more fulfilling and effective than anything before.