Twenty five years ago, when Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev made his first visit to Washington to meet with President Reagan, he was greeted by 250,000 Americans gathered on the Mall with the clarion call: "Let My People Go." It was the culminating event in a generation-long struggle to extend the universal principles of freedom — freedom to assemble, to worship, to travel — to the Jews of the Soviet Union. And when the movement succeeded, more than a million of them found new homes in free countries, and began to make contributions that touch the lives of millions more. Former Soviet Jews went on to transform various fields, from physics to economics to engineering and the medical sciences. Five Soviet Jews were awarded Nobel prizes. Sergei Brin, a Soviet Jew who emigrated to America as a child, changed our world by co-founding Google.
Few people under the age of thirty, however, remember the story of the exodus of Soviet Jews or know about the American activists who made their emigration possible. Today, when millions of people continue to live in closed societies and numerous regimes still limit the spread of information and the rights of mobility, it is all the more important to retell the story of how a group of housewives and students facilitated the emigration of millions of Soviet Jews.
Freedom 25 was established to assure that the critical lessons of the Soviet Jewry movement are learned by future generations, so they can again be applied to expand the reach of freedom. A coalition of non-profits and Jewish organizations, Freedom 25 aims to enlist a new generation in an online "virtual march" to mark 25 years since the Freedom Sunday March. In the coming year, Freedom 25 intends to help learning institutions and outlets of all types obtain the tools they need to teach this crucial lesson in activism and mobilization, so ordinary people can be empowered to once again do extraordinary things.
Join us in this mission. Join the Virtual March and add your name to those who commit to a freer future for all people.