A NEW book chronicling the unique Australian perspective of the heroic struggle for the rights of Soviet Jewry “should be required reading” for Jewish studies students at every Australian Jewish school.
That is the view of former chair of the Australian campaign for the rescue of Soviet Jewry Robert Goot, who officially launched Let My People Go: The Untold Story of Australia and the Soviet Jews 1959-89 at the Sydney Jewish Museum (SJM) last Sunday.
Co-authored by former AJN editor Sam Lipski and historian Professor Suzanne Rutland, the book reveals previously undisclosed details from behind the scenes of the campaign, and follows former prime minister Bob Hawke’s passionate efforts to negotiate exit visas for refuseniks.
A crowd of more than 130 people attended the launch including communal leaders and SJM historian Professor Konrad Kwiet, who introduced Goot, and the authors.
“Sam and Suzanne have performed a most important service in writing this book,” Goot said.
“They have provided a detailed and fascinating account of how Australian Jewry rose to one of the great challenges of our time … to the great benefit firstly of Soviet Jewry; secondly to the State of Israel, the economic and social development of which was vastly enhanced by one million Soviet immigrants; and thirdly to the benefit of our own sense of purpose, identity and future in this great country.”
Goot called for the book to “be in the libraries at least of every Australian Jewish day school”.
“It should be required reading within their Jewish studies curricula,” he said.
Let My People Go will be launched in Melbourne at Beth Weizmann Community Centre this Sunday, May 17 at 4pm. Published by Hybrid Publishers, it is available from all main local bookshops, $29.95. The international and ebook version are available on Amazon.
From left: Sam Lipski, Professor Suzanne Rutland and Professor Konrad Kwiet at the Sydney book launch.