Highlight from Recently Digitized American Soviet Jewry Movement Collections: Joel and Adele Sandberg Papers—Letter from Sheryl Sandberg to her “Bat Mitzvah twin” Kira Volovsky

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by Andrey Filimonov

View digital materials online at http://digital.cjh.org/2873290

Letter from 12-year old Sheryl Sandberg to her Bat Mitzvah twin Kira Volovsky—a Refusenik girl in the Soviet Union. Joel and Adele Sandberg Papers, P-872, American Jewish Historical Society

Thanks to generous support from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC), the Center for Jewish History has completed the digitization of more than 75,100 images and 500 audio hours from the American Jewish Historical Society’s Soviet Jewry collections. For more information on the project, click here.  

Among the important small personal collections that were digitized during this period is the Joel and Adele Sandberg Papers. Adele Sandberg and Dr. Joel Sandberg co-founded the South Florida Conference on Soviet Jewry (SFCSJ). During the 1970s and 1980s, they designed and led most of the SFCSJ’s highly effective and influential projects, such as the Adopt-a-Family program, which was the largest of its kind in the country; the initiative to connect families in the US with Refusenik families in the USSR; and the national program Medical Mobilization for Soviet Jewry, which culminated in a group of US physicians touring Soviet Jewish communities and offering medical attention to Refuseniks. One of the Sandberg family’s great accomplishments was the series of 12 publications known as the South Florida Case Histories of Refuseniks, which provided accurate, up-to-date information on the conditions and needs of thousands of Jewish families trapped in the USSR. The publications proved to be an invaluable resource for activists all over the world and were tremendously helpful to inform the US Congress about the human rights abuses in the Soviet Union.

The collection also features materials documenting the early life of the celebrated author and Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, Adele and Joel’s daughter. Sheryl was involved in the Soviet Jewry movement starting in her early childhood, attended numerous rallies for Soviet Jews, and shared her Bat Mitzvah with a Refusenik girl in the Soviet Union via the Bat Mitzvah Twinning program. The 1-linear-foot collection includes correspondence, memos, minutes, news clippings, and photos.

Andrey Filimonov is an archivist at the Center for Jewish History.

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