Jerry Goodman

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The Papers of Jerry Goodman represent one collection housed within the Archive of the American Soviet Jewry Movement (AASJM). These papers reflect the effort, beginning in the 1960s through the late 1980s, of thousands of American Jews of all denominations and political orientations to stop the persecution and discrimination of Jews in the Soviet Union. The American Soviet Jewry Movement (ASJM) is considered to be the most influential Movements of the American Jewish community in the 20 th century. The beginnings of the organized American Soviet Jewry Movement became a model for efforts to aid Soviet Jews in other countries, among them Great Britain, Canada, and France. The movement can be traced to the early 1960s, when the first organizations were created to address the specific problem of the persecution and isolation of Soviet Jews by the government of the Soviet Union.

Jerry Goodman took an active part in the work of one such organization, the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry (AJCSJ), which existed from 1964-1971. The AJCSJ was mostly a coordinating body created by several major Jewish organizations and lacking permanent staff. In 1971 when the AJCSJ was transformed into a more centralized and structured organization with its own agenda, staff and budget, Jerry Goodman became the founding Executive Director. Goodman was instrumental in coordinating many Jewish communities and organizations in order to consolidate and channel influence, financial means and information in order to pressure the Soviet authorities to allow the free emigration of Jews from the USSR and end all forms of discrimination. For more than 20 years Goodman advocated on behalf of Soviet Jews which included political activism, interpersonal contacts with Soviet Jews, and work on informing the American public on the plight of Jews in the USSR. His work and dedication came to fruition in the second half of the 1980s, when the Soviet government started political reforms which allowed most of the Jews willing to emigrate from the Soviet Union to do so. The Soviet Jewish immigrants strengthened and influenced the American Jewish community and especially the State of Israel.

Jerry Goodman's papers are comprised of documents accumulated during his work as the external relations coordinator of the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry and then as the founding Executive Director of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry.


Mr. Jerry Goodman holds a Certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution from New York University, with training as a Mediator. He is the founder of the Archives of the American Soviet Jewry Movement, a project of the American Jewish Historical Society, and served as its Senior Advisor.

He was from 1971 through 1988 the founding Executive Director of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ), a nationwide coalition of 350 national and local groups, and is currently a member of its Board of Directors. NCSJ's mission was to improve conditions for Jews in the Soviet Union, end discrimination against their religious and cultural life, and to help achieve their right to leave.

Mr. Goodman was a consultant to the U.S. Congress in creating the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, known as the "Helsinki Commission," and was a proponent of "Two Track Diplomacy." He helped secure the passage of the landmark Jackson-Vanik Amendment linking U.S.-Soviet trade to emigration. In addition, during his tenure, the largest human rights national manifestation for Soviet Jews was organized, when 250,000 Jews and non-Jews came to Washington, D.C. for Mikhail Gorbachev's summit meeting with President Ronald Reagan, in December 1987.

When Mr. Goodman left the NCSJ he became the Executive Director of the ad hoc International Committee for Sepharad '92, a global project to commemorate the 500 th Anniversary of the Expulsion of Jews from Spain, and to celebrate the rich history and cultural contributions of Sephardic Jews. Following the completion of his mandate, Mr. Goodman became the Executive Director of the National Committee for Labor Israel (NCLI).

Mr. Goodman was chairman of the Dalton Council, a faculty-parent planning and advisory group for the Dalton School, N.Y. He is a consultant to the Gorbachev Foundation, and is a board member of the Centre Bonastruc ca Porta, Girona, Spain. He is a consultant to the State of the World Forum as well as to KREAB, Gavin Anderson, a global strategic planning and communications company, and serves on the Advisory Council, American Society for the Jewish Heritage in Poland.

Mr. Goodman hosted the WPIX-TV series "Jewish Dimension," and the radio series, "Russia Reports." As the Director of European Affairs of the American Jewish Committee, he specialized in issues relating to post-war Europe, notably within Germany, the Soviet Union and East Europe. He writes and lectures on political and social issues concerning the Former Soviet Union, Israel, and the Middle East, and advises not-for-profit organizations in strategic planning, organization and communications.

From the guide to the Jerry Goodman, papers, undated, 1954, 1959-2008, 2011 (bulk 1971-1989), (American Jewish Historical Society)

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