Soviet Jewry movement commemorated at Regis University Oct. 20

Donnie VeaseyOctober 04, 2013

(DENVER) -- More than 46 years after the start of a mass emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union, Regis University is hosting an event to commemorate their struggles and the extensive efforts of the U.S. movement to save and protect them.

The event takes place in Dayton Memorial Library at the University's North Denver (Lowell) campus Oct. 20 from 4-6 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

The event features the work of Denverite Lillian Butler Hoffman (1913-1996), who was a pioneer of the Soviet Jewry Movement, a diverse, grass-roots initiative that crossed all party lines. She helped launch and was the longtime chair of the Colorado Committee of Concern for Soviet Jewry (CCCSJ), one of the early committees to save Soviet Jewry.

Her work is chronicled in an archival collection “Freedom from Tyranny: Lillian Hoffman's Struggles and Triumphs to Save Soviet Jewry” authored by her daughter Sheila Hoffman Bialek, who is speaking at the event.

 In 1972, Hoffman played a central role in the passage of the Jackson-Vanik bill, which stopped U.S. trade with the U.S.S.R. until all Jews were allowed out of the country.

Hoffman's work involved meeting with "Refuseniks," an English term that was coined to describe those who were denied permission to leave the Soviet Union, including Natan Sharansky, Ida Nudel and Joseph Mendelevich.  Hoffman's efforts and the movement itself culminated in 1987 with a mass protest of Mikhail Gorbachev's meeting with President Reagan in Washington, D.C.

At the Regis University event, Bialek will present to Regis’ Dayton Memorial Library her six archival books and a film about Lillian which Bialek says "hopefully will inspire university students and faculty to protest human right violations everywhere and especially rising global anti-Semitism."       

Denver City Auditor Dennis Gallagher, a 1961 Regis University alumni and a Regis University professor emeritus, is one of the organizers of the event.  Gallagher, who was a member of the Colorado legislature from 1970 to 1994, played a substantial role in the movement, appointed by Hoffman as the Interfaith Chair—a position in charge of reaching out to people from a variety of backgrounds and getting them to sign the petition.  He also presented a petition to President Gerald Ford, met with Soviet agents at his home to confront them with the injustices of their practices, and lobbied for congressional support, among other things.  

Refreshments will be served and dietary laws will be observed.


Donnie Veasey
Director of Media Relations
303-204-5986 cell
Twitter: @RUmedia