Over ten years ago, Benjamin Fain, a physicist now living in Tel Aviv, attempted to hold a conference on Jewish culture in Moscow, an effort that was foiled by the KGB. Many of the participants were eventually able to flee, most emigrating to Israel. In this book, these distinguished scholars and others from around the world present their personal and professional views of Jewish culture in the Soviet Union.
The book explores a wide range of topics, including underground literature, religious revival, and the rise of a national Jewish consciousness. Some writers claim that the refuseniks are not the leaders of the Soviet Jews but rather an isolated minority, with most Jews being assimilated, acculturated, and uninterested in fleeing. Other essayists look at the ambivalent role traditionally played by the Soviet Union in both allowing some forms of cultural expression and suppressing any efforts at individual religious practice. Others explore the revival of Jewish culture as instanced by underground teaching of Hebrew. A major debate involves the Nature of Jewish emigration, whether the Jews will go to Israel or to America.