The American Jewish Historical Society’s (AJHS) Emma Lazarus Statue of Liberty Awards Dinner, was held on April 25 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, & commemorated the American Soviet Jewry Movement with honoree and keynote speaker The Honorable George P. Shultz. In an effort to ensure that the record of the American Soviet Jewry Movement is not lost or forgotten, the AJHS is raising funds to gather the nation’s most comprehensive collection of materials documenting America’s campaign to rescue Soviet Jews.
The AJHS presented the Emma Lazarus State of Liberty Award, its highest honor, to former Secretary of State George P. Shultz, whose personal efforts as well as official actions were instrumental in persuading the former Soviet Union to allow its Jewish citizens to emigrate. The Emma Lazarus Award was presented to Secretary Shultz by Elie Wiesel, the Nobel laureate, whose book, The Jews of Silence (1966), was a seminal event in the development of the Movement.
Secretary Shultz was introduced by Yuli Yoel Elelstein – a former refusenik who served three years in a Soviet labor camp for applying to emigrate to Israel and is now the Deputy Speaker of Knesset – and offered his personal reflections on the significance of the Movement.
In addition, the Society unveiled the names of the initial inductees into its Roll of Honor of former leaders, activists, and officials – now deceased – who for decades championed human rights for all Soviet citizens, especially its Jewish minority.