web analytics
October 26, 2014 / 2 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Rabbi Yosef Mendelevitch, Pioneering Russian Refusenik


Rabbi Mendelevitch and Avital Sharansky meet then-President Reagan and Vice President Bush.

Rabbi Mendelevitch and Avital Sharansky meet then-President Reagan and Vice President Bush.
Photo Credit: White House archives

In the end however we purchased all twelve seats for a small plane, while four members of our group for whom there was no room were to wait for us in a forest.

YM: Where was the flight supposed to be from?

RYM: From Leningrad to Sweden. We would take over in the midst of the flight.

I’ll tell you a very interesting point concerning what was known as the “Leningrad Group” or the “Leningrad Zionist Committee”. They discussed what they knew of the plan and came to a decision that it was counter-productive and dangerous, not just for Butman [the head of the Leningrad ulpan with whom Mark Dymshits had shared his hijacking idea] but for the whole national movement and that we’d all go to prison. They wanted Butman to disclose all of the details and they demanded that it be stopped.

While Butman felt that it was the solution to our problem, they insisted on the slower process of Jewish revival, group meetings, some Jewish theatre, etc. We felt that under the Soviet reality their path was a waste of time.

When they felt that Butman was too stubborn and wouldn’t give up they proposed a compromise and suggested that the Israeli government be contacted in order to ask if it’s helpful to Israel. At that time some Israeli tourists would come to our activist meetings so we had a way to send an inquiry and receive an answer. It was obvious though that the answer would be negative. We in Riga told them that we cannot involve the Israeli government in any way since it was dangerous for Israel and its state interests. But some people in Leningrad were afraid and the request was sent. Finally we got a veto from Israel. It turned out that the request made it to the desk of Golda Meir, the Prime Minister at the time, so the answer we received was real.

We then decided that since we in Riga are not Leningrad, we’ll do it alone. In this way the whole plan came to our group.

YM: Did you really think there was a chance to succeed? After all, this was the Soviet Union and the KGB?

RYM: Did you ever hear of Mordechai Anielewicz and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising? Did you think they had real plans?

Sometimes it happens in your life that you simply feel it’s the right thing to do. People that make all kinds of calculations frequently never act. We felt, at least a few of us, that it was our mission to do it for Am Yisrael [the Jewish people]. Although I never actually knew whether all sixteen of the people drafted for the mission believed it was a way to sacrifice oneself for a greater cause, I knew for certain that for me and two or three other leaders of the group that’s the way we felt. We had to start, we had to cry out.

15 June 1970 – The Day of the Planned Hijacking

YM: What was going through your mind the morning of the attempted hijacking? Were you scared? Worried?

RYM: I can only speak for myself. I felt that I was a soldier of the Israeli army, going out to perform the task the best way I can. The moment you are in battle you don’t think, you are not permitted to think. You have to go straight and fight.

YM: So what happened that day? How was the hijacking foiled?

RYM: Perhaps because of the blown operation that started in Leningrad a lot of people knew about the plans, so certainly it somehow reached the eyes and ears of the KGB. They then decided to let us play into their hands in order to arrest us red-handed on the spot. This way they could vilify our Zionist activities – “hijackers, bandits, weapons” – in order to crush the growing national movement exactly as the friends of the Leningrad Committee thought they would.

You have to understand that since this was not Stalin’s time but rather a time when Soviet Russia felt they had to be closer to the west, our movement had created a certain dilemma for the Soviet authorities. Namely how could they arrest people that only wanted to learn Hebrew or religion at a time that they were trying to be “socialism with a human face”? Such a move would certainly not make them look good. For this reason our hijacking plan gave them the perfect pretext to arrest us.

About the Author: Yoel Meltzer is a freelance writer living in Jerusalem. He can be contacted via http://yoelmeltzer.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Rabbi Yosef Mendelevitch, Pioneering Russian Refusenik”

  1. Tzvi Fishman says:

    Rabbi Mendelevitch is indeed a true Jewish hero. His book "Unbroken Spirit" should be read by everyone. Especially by our young people who are so desperate for true Jewish heroes of bravery, idealism, and substance. I recommend the book highly.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Terrorists attack Israeli soldiers with a Molotov cocktail in Arab village near Ramallah.
Palestinian Authority-American Shot Dead while Trying to Kill Jews
Latest Indepth Stories
British Flag

Data which the FERPA law, as revised by DOE, is to require states to have policies on, for retention and disclosure. (Source: Stop Common Core Illinois.) Be careful what you ask modern government agencies to investigate on your behalf. Their idea of what the priorities and definitions are may be very different from yours.  

quiet

Introverts are more likely to pause, view the world from a distance, and think how to make it better

Lewis-102414-Nachal-Hareidi

I couldn’t see why I was different from Israeli boys my age. I too wanted to defend our country.

Eller-102414-Cart

I had to hire a babysitter so that I could go shopping or have someone come with me to push Caroline in her wheelchair.

Widespread agreement in Israel opposing Palestinian diplomatic warfare, commonly called “lawfare.”

Arab terrorism against Jews and the State of Israel is not something we should be “calm” about.

The Israeli left, led by tenured academics, endorses pretty much anything harmful to its own country

We were devastated: The exploitation of our father’s murder as a vehicle for political commentary.

Judea and Samaria (Yesha) have been governed by the IDF and not officially under Israeli sovereignty

While not all criticism of Israel stemmed from anti-Semitism, Podhoretz contends the level of animosity towards Israel rises exponentially the farther left one moved along the spectrum.

n past decades, Oman has struck a diplomatic balance between Saudi Arabia, the West, and Iran.

The Torah scroll which my family donated will ride aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier

The Jewish Press endorses the reelection of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. His record as governor these past four years offers eloquent testimony to the experience and vision he has to lead the Empire State for the next four years.

I think Seth Lipsky is amazing, but it just drives home the point that newspapers have a lot of moving parts.

More Articles from Yoel Meltzer
Photo: Naftali Bennett

In less than three months time the Jewish Home Party, formerly known as the National Religious Party (NRP), will be holding its first ever internal primaries.

Ayelet Shaked

The co-founder and former chairman of the MyIsrael (Yisrael Sheli) national movement, the recipient of the 2012 Abramowitz Israeli Prize for Media Criticism and a close associate of Naftali Bennett – the two worked together in the office of Benjamin Netanyahu prior to the 2009 elections – Shaked is raising some eyebrows due to the fact that she, unlike Bennett, is a secular candidate for HaBayit Hayehudi -a traditionally religious party.

On his attempt to hijack an airplane in 1970 to bring attention to the struggle of Soviet Jewry: “Sometimes it happens in your life that you simply feel it’s the right thing to do.”

“We need to work on instilling a good strong Jewish-Zionist identity in all of the children in Israel and not only in the religious ones. In other words we need to stop looking inward and start focusing on all of Am Yisrael.”

Rabbi Zuriel: “With the ingathering of the exiles, we need a Sanhedrin to implement various changes since Judaism is a developing matter; it’s supposed to be dynamic. He showed me in one of his works twenty items that the Tosafot changed. Today however, he added, we’re like the Karaites, we don’t want to change.

For anyone who is sick of the lies and hypocrisy – be it in Israel or the world – and really wants to work for change, it’s not enough to simply stand on the street corner and shout the truth. How something is said or how someone looks while performing an act frequently has more impact than anything else in the eyes and ears of the viewer.

Most Israelis understand that the funding of Israeli organizations by foreign governments is a way to enable these governments to advance their agenda of delegitimizing Israel.

Commenting on the role the sovereign nation-state plays in the western world compared with the Islamic world, the late Samuel P. Huntington, in his classic study The Clash of Civilizations and The Remaking of World Order, wrote: “The structure of political loyalty among Arabs and among Muslims generally has been the opposite of that in the modern West. For the latter the nation state has been the apex of political loyalty.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/an-interview-with-rabbi-yosef-mendelevitch-pioneering-russian-refusenik/2012/06/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: