As the Soviet Union began to crumble in the late 1980s, a group of Jews in Boulder organized to aid and resettle Soviet Jews who faced increasing discrimination from the Soviet state and refusal of their requests to emigrate (earning them the label of “refuseniks”). These Jewish Boulderites called themselves Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry (BASJ). BASJ worked as part of the national Soviet Jewry movement to aid these Soviet Jews, particularly those Jews in Dushanbe, Tajikistan (Boulder’s sister city), whose struggles were not known to many, if any, of the other Soviet Jewry advocacy organizations across the country. After some of the first Dushanbe refuseniks gained permission to emigrate to the U.S. and expressed interest in settling in Boulder, BASJ organized a formal resettlement program to welcome and integrate Soviet immigrants into the Boulder Jewish and other communitiesBASJ then trained and assigned dozens of volunteers as home visitors and ESL tutors. The community came together to help them learn English, find jobs, and navigate the new society they had entered.
The University of Colorado Boulder Libraries will celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Archives on June 6, 2018. This is story #51 in our series: 100 Stories for 100 Years from the Archives!