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Lunch & Learn: A Talk with Galina Nizhnikov

Saturday, April 14, 2018 29 Nisan 5778

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Against the Kremlin Wall

Galina Nizhnikov was one of the first female refuseniks to protest for the right to leave Soviet Russia. Very few people applied to emigrate during the 1960s. But in the 1970s the Soviet Union, desperate for grain imports, sought détente with the United States. The Jackson-Vanik Amendment linked most favored nation status to the granting of emigration.


In 1974 Nizhnikov’s family applied for an exit visa. Soon after they were refused she became active in the refusenik community. Her in-laws introduced her to Ida Nudel, a noted female refusenik. Nudel invited Nizhnikov to be one of six women demonstrating at the Kremlin Wall, where no protesters had dared to demonstrate before.


Galina had cousins in Philadelphia, one of whom was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. America was always her destination. The propaganda that Russia broadcasted about Israel was very frightening. They said that people couldn’t find jobs. When Galina’s family applied for emigration they received a postcard from the KGB. It was a very scary card.


The card said, “You decided to go to America. America is waiting for you. Your relatives are waiting for you. You will be sweeping

garbage and broken glass [sic] on the streets.”


Galina believes that her family was granted permission to leave, in part, because of her connection with her women’s demonstrations and arrests. She attracted too much attention. One of her ideas was to wear at demonstrations against the government a yellow shirt with a blue Magen David . She thought that maybe this made her too visible. The government finally just

wanted to get rid of them.


Nizhnikov, possibly due to her cousin in Philadelphia’s influence, was on the list of the people the United States wanted to be granted visas that Senator Edward Kennedy gave to Leonid Brezhnev. Nizhnikov heard on Voice of America that the family’s name was on the list of those granted exit visas months before being notified by the Soviet government.


Our lunch and learn discussion on this topic will take place Saturday, April 14 after Shabbat morning services, around 12:30 p.m.. The talk is free and open to all.

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Sun, March 24 2019 17 Adar II 5779