Action for Nudel

Action and interest on behalf of Ida Nudel continued up until just a few days before she was told she could emigrate. In August, 23 Moscow refuseniks appealed to General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to permit Nudel to live in Moscow. Her only crime, they said in their appeal, “was her active struggle for her undeniable right to rejoin her only relative, her sister, in Israel.” The refuseniks’ plea stated:

“Now, when the USSR aims for a democratic society and many Prisoners of Conscience were given freedom, we hope that Ida Nudel, about whose health and living conditions we worry, will also experience the results of ‘perestroika.”We appeal to you to renew her right of residence in Moscow.” (“Perestroika” means “restructuring” and refers to what is considered the current limited opening up of some aspects of Soviet society.) Andrea King reported from Jerusalem that in September, Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann met Elana Fridman at the Jerusalem Cinematheque for the dedication of a balcony in Ullmann’s honor. The meeting took place following a screening at the Cinematheque of Ullmann’s new film, “Moscow Farewell,” based loosely upon the life of Ida Nudel.

The film, which is in English, was directed by Mauro Bolognini of Italy. It depicts the life of a refusenik named Ida, her protests, and her days in a Siberian labor camp as well as her isolated existence following her release. The film also includes the story of a marriage for its heroine and a lover, about neither of which anyone familiar with Nudel claims to know anything. Fridman did, however, travel to Rome, where she served as a consultant to the film.

Ullmann said that although she has not met Nudel or spoken with her, she has read her letters and other writings and feels she has come to know her through them. At the dedication of the balcony, Ullmann said she hoped one day Nudel could join her there for a drink.

Before the screening, Ullmann recalled for the audience “a time in history, not so long ago, when terrible things happened and people said afterward that they did not know, did not see, did not hear.” The actress continued:

“We have no excuse now in the case of the Soviet Union. We do know, we do see, we do hear, and we have to mention their names every day so as to remember Ida and all the others who want to leave the Soviet Union and aren’t allowed.”

Elena Fridman said she had spoken to Nudel, who sent her thanks and a kiss to Ullmann, whom she hoped to meet one day in Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, in New York, the Jabotinsky Foundation of New York announced that Ida Nudel, along with three others, will receive the 1987 Defender of Jerusalem Award, which carries a cash prize of $25,000. Said Eryk Spektor, chairman of the Foundation:

“We play tribute to the faith, courage, and spirit of this remarkable woman who is the standard-bearer for all Jewish dissidents and a symbol of the plight of the Jews in the Soviet Union.”