Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry Records
Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry (BASJ) was established in 1987 as a nonprofit agency to advocate for and eventually assist in the resettlement of more than 250 refuseniks, including Soviet mathematician and human rights actvist, Naum Meiman. BASJ and The Center For Human Rights Advocacy, a nonprofit public interest law firm, continued their work advocating on behalf of more than 100 refuseniks from Dushanbe, the capital of Soviet Tajikistan and Boulder’s Sister City. 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 communities.
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.
Members of BASJ identified who should be interviewed, contacted each potential narrator so the oral historians had immediate credibility, and helped guide the development of interview topics with the advantage of insider knowledge. The Maria Rogers Oral History Program, a program of the Boulder Public Library’s Carnegie Branch Library for Local History, brought 35 years of experience in the field of oral history and contributed a wealth of knowledge about oral history practice as well as the ability to archive and disseminate the oral histories through its existing online digital archive and social media vehicles such as a blog, Facebook, Tumblr, Vimeo, podcasts, and a YouTube channel. The Program in Jewish Studies at the University of Colorado offered an honors seminar as well as internships around the project, allowing students to obtain a rich academic background in the subject as well as training as oral history interviewers.
The Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry Oral History Project produced a comprehensive body of oral histories about the work of BASJ by recording interviews with a cross-section of BASJ organizers, board leaders, volunteer host families, ESL tutors, and medical professionals, in addition to a former refusenik whose family plight helped to inspire creation of BASJ and multiple generations of new Americans from the former Soviet Union who benefited from and/or received services from BASJ when resettling in Boulder, Colorado, between 1987 and 1997. This body of oral histories constitutes a comprehensive historical resource for research and understanding of the significance of this human rights and refugee resettlement organization.
These oral histories are available through the Maria Rogers Oral History Program at the Carnegie Branch for Local History of the Boulder Public Library. Together, these collections serve as primary sources of BASJ's work and constitute a comprehensive historical resource for research and understanding this Boulder human rights and refugee resettlement organization.
Gift of Brandon Springer, the Maria Rogers Oral History Project, the Carnegie Branch of the Boulder Library, and CU Boulder's Program in Jewish Studies in January, 2011. Additional accrual gift of the William M. Cohen of the Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry agency and The Center for Human Rights Advocacy in March, 2011.