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LET MY PEOPLE GO! - in Detroit, Michigan



Beit Hatfutsot’s LET MY PEOPLE GO! The Soviet Jewry Movement 1967-1989 exhibit, opened at the Janice Charach Gallery at the JCC of Greater Detroit, Michigan.  Beit Hatfutsot is grateful to Natalie and Manny Charach, who played a pivotal role in bringing the exhibit to the gallery named after the daughter Janice Z”L and, to Terri Stearn, the esteemed director of the gallery, that led the creative team that expanded the exhibit.  Shula Bahat, CEO of Beit Hatfutsot of America, addressed audiences at the patrons’ opening and public opening of the exhibit on June 8th and 9th. She welcomed all those gathered – many of whom took part in the struggle to free Soviet Jews and sought the fulfillment of their undeniable rights to practice Judaism openly and emigrate. Recalling the movement’s ability to mobilize to action people from all over the world, of all religious, national and ethnic backgrounds, people who were inspired by the ancient and transcendent call for freedom “Let My People Go”, she stressed the importance of commemorating this significant chapter in Jewish and universal history so it is etched in the hearts and minds of new generations.

The exhibit provides an overview of Jewish national activity in the Soviet Union from 1967 through 1989 and of the international support it received from Israel, world Jewry and the general community and of course, local communities like Detroit. The struggle waged by Soviet Jews captured headlines throughout the Jewish world and caught the attention of various Jewish and general organizations, public figures and political leaders, who considered the Jewish policy of the USSR to be a violation of basic human rights, such as the freedom of religion, freedom of migration, the freedom to study one's own language, culture and heritage, etc.

The Janice Charach Gallery has impressively augmented the exhibit with additional shows to include a collection of Samovars, Nesting Dolls and photos of Russian Graffiti; an exhibit entitled “Making Aliyah: Saying Goodbye to Eastern Europe”  at the Shalom Street Museum. Programming includes PuppetArt, founded by a group of puppeteers and artists trained in the former Soviet Union who will perform “A Chelm Story” the classic Yiddish tale of a man who pans an adventure to the big city:  a lecture on Eastern European Political Evolution of Jewish Identity by Dr. Zvi Gitelman, Professor at the University of Michigan as well as a presentation by Alexis Zimberg, a Georgetown graduate student who strolled the streets of Hungary, Russia, Belarus, Latvia and Czech Republic in search of street art  entitled “The Spray Can is Mightier Than the Sword: Street Art as a Medium for Political Discourse in Russia.  In addition, Refusenik, the first documentary to chronicle the 35 year movement to free Soviet Jewry will also be shown.

Joel Tauber, a prominent businessman, philanthropist, who was a member along with Detroit leaders Paul Borman, William Davidson z”l and David Hermelin z”l, of Beit Hatfutsot’s 100 Club, and a key leader in the movement to free Soviet Jewry will lecture on June 27th on the important role that the Detroit community played in helping hundreds of thousand of Jews emigrate from the Soviet Union to Israel. A leader who consistently believes in giving back to his community, he has a 50 year history of dedicated service to major local and national leadership positions in the United Jewish Appeal, the United Israel Appeal and United Way. He is a former co-chairman of the Greater Detroit Interfaith Round Table of Christians, Jews and Muslims among many other noble causes.

The private and public openings were launched by the LOST and FOUND Project, an experimental theatrical group, which performed their first production DOROGA with a cast of 10 actors from the former Soviet Union. Founded and produced by Ann Zicer, the Lost & Found Project is an affiliate of the National Yiddish Theatre – Folksbiene in partnership initiative of the Genesis Philanthropy Group.
The exhibit, which originated at Beit Hatfutsot, was adapted for American audiences by the Museum of Jewish Heritage--A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.

LET MY PEOPLE GO! will be on display at the Janice Gallery through July 25th 2013 after which it will travel to additional communities in North America.


To bring the exhibit to your community and for further information please contact: American Friends of Beit Hatfutsot at