Women Refuseniks Unite

Women denied visas to emigrate from the Soviet Union must endure the fear and frustration of living as refuseniks, says Yelena Dubienskaya, a former refusenik and one of the founders of “Jewish Women Against Refusal.” Dubienskaya, at a recent program in Philadelphia, told how women must cope both with their own and their husbands’ loss of a job and the anti-Semitism experienced by their children.

“Jewish Women Against Refusal” offers much needed encouragement and support to women refuseniks — particularly those from outlying provinces who often feel isolated in their struggle. In addition, the activist group provides special medical supplies, sponsors monthly seminars which address the special problems of women living in refusal, provide information about Israel and educate members about Jewish history.

Last year, the group held memorial services at Babi Yar. “Jewish Women Against Refusal” has also organized a separate group for second generation refuseniks, in which young people share their feelings about anti-Semitism and the tensions of their situation.