Philadelphia / Southern New Jersey Chapter

PA 215.665.2300 | PAST EVENTS

The Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey Regional Office of AJC is working with many communities, building understanding and advocating together in areas of mutual concern and interest. These include the African American, Latino, German, Polish, Muslim, Ukrainian, Evangelical, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Catholic communities, among others. We are also focusing on issues of the environment and independence from foreign oil as a necessity for the protection of Israel, as well as concentrating on Jewish continuity and the future of our faith through a close look at interfaith relationships and how to incorporate interfaith families into the Jewish community.

Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.   -- John F. Kennedy


On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Freedom Sunday Rally in Washington, the Courage of Belief fundraising dinner will honor award-recipient Teresa Heinz, who was a leading advocate in the Soviet Jewry movement, and all those who worked so hard for the freedom of Soviet Jews.

The Soviet Jewry Movement and American Jewish Advocacy: 25 Years Later

Sunday, December 16, 2012

National Museum of American Jewish History
101 South Independence Mall
East Philadelphia, PA 19106-2517
(215) 923-3811



Join us on December 16th at the National Museum of American Jewish History as we celebrate and explore the modern exodus of over 1.5 million Russian Jews and the Soviet Jewry movement that made it possible. The program will feature:

Marina & Lev Furman and other former refuseniks and activists – on their experiences taking on the Soviet regime from both sides of the ocean.

Sohrab Ahmari – Journalist for the Wall Street Journal, New Republic, Commentary and more, on the lessons of the Soviet Jewry movement for activists today.

Gal Beckerman – author of the authoritative chronicle of the Soviet Jewry movement When They Come For Us, We’ll Be Gone, on the impact and significance of the movement for Jewish American advocacy and US foreign policy.

Plus special musical performances, guest appearances and more!

In Memoriam: Joseph Smukler

The Jewish Press OP-ED: "How The Holocaust Influenced One Man's Struggle For Soviet Jewry"

The Jewish Daily FORWARD: "Death of a Soviet Jewry Activist"

Freedom 25 - National Coalition Rekindling the Soviet Jewry Movement

“This December marks the 25th anniversary of the culminating moment of the Soviet Jewry Movement: the March on Washington on the eve of the first Gorbachev/Reagan summit. Freedom 25, a cooperative initiative of numerous Jewish organizations, is using the anniversary to raise awareness about this epic tale. The ability of the Jewish community to unite to help free Soviet Jews holds many lessons for current and future challenges. Freedom 25 seeks to engage one million people in an on-line march on or around December 6. Beyond that, we intend to spur schools, campus organizations, Jewish camps, and other institutions to integrate the movement into their curricula and educational missions.” (From Website)

VIDEO: Redeeming the Captives: Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Soviet Jewry Movement

Archive of the American Soviet Jewry Movement (at the American Jewish Historical Society)

Quotes - Soviet Jewry


AJC and the Next Great City Coalition
Ongoing work to help determine Philadelphia’s energy initiatives

AJC Southern New Jersey Outreach
AJC speakers and various events in the planning process

Ongoing intergroup dialogues with:
Bucks County Christian Coalition
Hispanic Community
African American/Jewish Women’s dialogue

AJC and our Energy Partners
We have partnered with The Next Great City Coalition, with whom the city of Philadelphia consults when planning its own energy agenda. We are expanding our hybrid car incentives offered to AJC employees, and introducing the plan to Philadelphia and southern New Jersey businesses to use with their own employees. In Cherry Hill and southern New Jersey, AJC is partnering with Sustainable Cherry Hill, a local non-profit, to help present a series of educational forums, including one based on our pamphlet, Over a Barrel: How America’s Dependence on Foreign Oil Endangers our National Security, Economy, and Environment.

Bucks County Christian Coalition
The Bucks County Christian Coalition, a dialogue between Bucks County Christians and AJC, has been meeting since 1993, promoting democracy and respect of civil rights for all people. These goals have rarely been more important than they are at the present moment. Even as democracy spreads to countries that have never had it before, a backlash of fundamentalism and extremism makes its presence felt in almost every nation on the globe, and is tolerated by many who do not realize its power or the ideology that feeds it. The Bucks County Christian Coalition engages in dialogue to advocate respect for differences and the belief in the power of open minds to open hearts.

Intergroup/Interreligious Relations
AJC has played a leadership role in the field of interreligious and interethnic work for more than a century. Fundamental to our mission is the belief that the security and well-being of the Jewish community is connected to that of all groups. Supporting democracy and pluralism, promoting intergroup relations, and building coalitions to advance shared interests, have always been the central focus of our intergroup dialogue work. Currently, we are focusing our attention on the Latino and the African American Communities. Our continued meetings with leaders from the Latino community are working toward fulfilling their desire to form a cohesive group from which they have the power to make real change. Members include neighborhood representatives, directors from Latino non-profits, and Latino business owners.

Our African American/Jewish Professional Women’s Dialogue is a pilot initiative that we hope can be duplicated in all of our national chapters, strengthening diminished ties with the African-American community through woman-to-woman understanding.

It is also imperative that we maintain valued relationships with our longtime friends, understanding that we cannot take for granted any support we have received from them in the past. They include, among others, the German, Polish, Ukrainian, Evangelical, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Catholic communities.

Energy Security and Independence
AJC has designated energy security as one of our top priorities. Americans consume billions of gallons of oil each year, the proceeds of which support regimes whose values run counter to those of America and the west. With the U.S. Consuming one quarter of the world’s oil, one thing is clear: it will not be possible for the United States and the west to make headway in the fight against extremism, and the terrorism it fuels, as long as Americans are so completely beholden to the nations that produce oil. It is also clear that our reliance on oil contributes to the possible damages of climate change. While the steps being taken to deal with these two challenges are not always identical, AJC’s concerns about national security and about the environment are complementary. In addition to serving as responsible advocates for national security and opponents of extremism, we must act as responsible stewards of the earth. To that end, we have outfitted our office space to be as environmentally friendly as possible with our choice of carpeting and paint, as well as employing motion-sensitive lighting in all of our offices.

Face to Face with Faith: Engaging Interfaith Families series
One effect of living in a democratic nation is making room for diversity. The ambivalence that reaches intermarried families tends to push them away from Judaism. It is vital to make room for all Jews in the community and welcome/mobilize those who are diverse, ambivalent, and on the fringes so that they can be part of the answer to Jewish survival. Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey AJC seeks to work with the Jewish community to develop a multi-track approach to strengthen Jewish identity and positive Jewish experience in both in-marriages and mixed-marriages.

Jewish Study Wednesdays
Led by one of our most learned AJC leaders, Jewish study Wednesdays is an ongoing (almost 30 years) drop-in study and discussion session. This class is for all levels of Torah scholars, from complete novices to yeshiva graduates. Meeting bi-weekly at a convenient center city law firm during lunchtime, it is open to the community and always welcoming of new members.

Jewish Tours of Greater Philadelphia
Also a longtime initiative of the local chapter of American Jewish Committee, these tours focus on Jewish settlements and highlight Jewish contributions to early American society. Stories of Philadelphia’s Jewish colonists are included. Tours can be conducted by foot or bus, and customized to the needs and desires of its participants.

Israel and Media Relations
AJC advocates tirelessly for Israel, as well as her fair coverage in the media. We make the case for Israel by putting relevant research papers and journal articles in the hands of media and opinion molders, coordinating letters-to-the editor campaigns, and by arranging briefings by AJC experts for news editors and editorial boards.

Southern New Jersey outreach
The Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey office of AJC is working with many communities, building understanding and advocating together in areas of mutual concern and interest. This year, we have been partnering with the local JCRC in an effort to raise our visibility. Recently, we were contacted by Congregation Beth El in Cherry Hill to organize an AJC lecture series, the first being well-attended to hear AJC’s Anti-Semitism and Hate specialist, Ken Stern.

AJC is also involved in S. Jersey’s Middle East Institute for the first time in its 40-year history. Aaron Jacob, AJC’s Assistant Director of International Affairs, will be speaking on implications of the Iranian nuclear program, the UN security council resolutions adopted around this issue, the nature of Iran’s governing regime, and what can be done.

AJC’s affinity group for Jewish professionals under the age of 45. The mission is to reach out to the next generation of young Jewish professionals to help them network with each other, and to identify and train a cadre of people who will lead AJC in the future. This group has unique access to some of the most influential people in Philadelphia (starting within our own board) and works to integrate its programming within the AJC office.

On Campuses
AJC continues to belong to the Israel Campus Coalition, and is a resource in many areas to the university community.


Morton J. Simon, Esq.

Thomas H. Tropp, Esq.

Chairmen Emeritus
James A. Rosenstein, Esq.
Harold B. Yaffe, DDS

Professional Staff

Rabbi Mark Robbins, Director

Marcia I. Bronstein, Director of Development

Vlad (Judah) Khaykin, Assistant Director

Simmi Hurwitz, Jewish Tours of Philadelphia

Phyllis Fertik, Office Manager
Sandy Hankin, Executive Assistant

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