Chapter One How I discovered I am Jewish. The stigma. The “black sheep.” The enigma of Jewish survival. Being with the persecuted. Returning to my flock. The futile hope of making aliyah from behind the iron curtain. Derision of my schoolmates. Years of uncertainty. The turning point. The Six-day War seen from Moscow. What it takes to find a Hebrew teacher in Moscow in 1976.The sweet melody of Hebrew.
Chapter Two What is more important—aliyah or Jewish culture? How to conduct oneself during an interrogation. The détente environment. I become a Hebrew teacher—a coveted and prestigious status. ” Jewish “samizdat”. Other activities in Moscow and Leningrad. The rest of the country, where 75% of the Jewish population resides in a void in terms of Jewish activities. I come up with the idea of creating a special underground project entirely devoted to proliferation of Hebrew study, Jewish culture, and Zionism. Why the KGB would not tolerate the same activities in the peripheral cities that they tolerate in Moscow and Leningrad. We set up a secret team. The Soviet invasion into Afghanistan. The end of détente. Jewish activists are going to be the first victims. We still decide to pursue the project. Our initial steps. The scale of the challenge.
Chapter Three I take charge of the project. Creation of a full-fledged underground network under the nose of the KGB. Selection and training of a special cadre of Moscow teachers for the project. The creation of a totally independent center for reproducing textbooks and other education materials. Setting up an underground network for storing teaching materials. Copying and dissemination of historic, Zionist, and Israel-oriented literature among the Jewish population in the peripheral cities. Secret apartments in Moscow for intensive training of visiting novice teachers for the periphery. “Itinerant” teachers. How to communicate without using the telephone, postal services, etc. Secret summer camps. Three-level information storage.
Chapter Four Crimea summer camp destroyed by the KGB. Other trips. A dangerous leak. Misha is detained in Odessa. The KGB discovers the project and intervenes. The pressure, the intimidation. The “show trial” threat.
Chapter Five My arrest. The new high-ranking investigation team. The house search. “Firearms in your apartment.” The KGB wants to portray us as would-be terrorists who, under the guise of Hebrew education, illegally possess and stockpile firearms. How to halt the intimidation campaign and to avert a show trial. I declare a hunger strike as a last resort.
Chapter Six “You are not reading the political map correctly.” I am thrown into the punishment cell. Force feeding on the fifteenth day of the hunger strike. Letting the world know. I smuggle out letters with the help of the criminal prisoners. The prison authorities exert psychological pressure. International solidarity campaign. The KGB failed to forge my finger prints on the weapon—a sign that they are beginning to falter. The cold punishment cell. The trial. I must not lose courage at the last moment and must make a strong final speech, “calling a spade a spade.” My tough speech – I accuse the KGB of fabricating the case and instead of a demonstration of force by the KGB, I receive just 18 months of imprisonment – instead of five or even seven years as feared! A flop of a show trial!
Chapter Seven I continue my hunger strike. Worldwide campaign of support.The danger of the court of appeal. Psychological and physical pressure intensifies. I refuse to take liquids. The five-day ordeal. The prison hospital. Another hospital. I finally stop the 207-day long hunger strike (including forced feeding) and five months running in the punishment cells. I am transferred to a camp for criminals. “I am an observant Jew, in which direction is Jerusalem?” Inside the “zoo.” Not giving in. Will the KGB construe another provocation; will there be an additional term?
Chapter Eight The first taste of freedom. Moscow, the seven months of intensive medical treatment. I resume activities: forming an alliance of the former prisoners of Zion and organizing the group “Jewish women against refusal.” Together with Yosef Begun we stage unauthorized rallies. I organize the first unsanctioned rally next to the Jewish cemetery in Moscow commemorating the Holocaust. I organize the Baby Yar victims’ commemoration ceremony for the first time in many years. Our family demonstrates defiantly in front of the Ministry of Foreign affairs. We finally arrive in Israel. Does the reality meet the expectations?