Moscow-The Simon Wiesenthal Center's chief Nazi-hunter and director for Israel and Eastern Europe, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, was honored here last night by the Russian Federation of Jewish Communities for his ongoing efforts to combat Holocaust distortion and revisionism.
In a star-studded ceremony held in one of the halls of the Kremlin and attended by close to 6,000 people, Zuroff was one of ten individuals, Jews and non-Jews, awarded the Federation's "Fiddler on the Roof Prize" for 2018 for exceptional service to Jewish causes.
In his acceptance speech, Zuroff contrasted his first visit to Moscow in 1985 to meet with Jewish refuseniks denied permission to emigrate to Israel, with the current renaissance of Jewish identity in the Russian Federation.
"In 1985, I came to Moscow (and other cities) to meet Jewish refuseniks, those seeking to emigrate to Israel but denied permission to do so by the Soviet authorities. The idea was to explain to them about life in Israel, in some cases to teach them about Jewish history and traditions, and encourage their efforts to obtain permission to immigrate to Israel. It was the beginning of glasnost and perestroika, but these visits were carefully monitored by the KGB, and my partner Dr. Menachem Gottesman and I were followed, stopped and interrogated by the authorities in a rather unpleasant way.
"That world is, thank G-d, a thing of the past and today Russian Jews are free to live full Jewish lives and make aliya if they so desire. This transformation is nothing short of a miracle."
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The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).