Destination Cincinnati, by way of the USSR, 1980

Greetings!  Zdravstvuite!

I was going through our clippings file, looking for something else entirely, when I came across this interesting bit of Cincinnati State history.  In 1980, Cincinnati State (CTC at the time), in partnership with The Jewish Vocational Service, provided a technical education for Russian Jews immigrating to the United States in order to prepare them for new jobs.  A special class in data entry–transferring information to computer punch cards–was developed for the group of eleven women, at the end of which they would be qualified data-entry operators.

The women all left the Soviet Union because of Antisemitism and rampant shortages of basic necessities like food and clothing.  Many of them also left families and friends behind, as well as a familiar language and often professional jobs.  In spite of the frustration and hardship, the article reports, they “expressed great relief at being in this country”.

In 1980, Jews in Russia had only recently been permitted to emigrate.  Most visa applications, particularly those to Israel, were routinely denied.  Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary from 1964-1982, tightened control by the state, ending the “liberalizing” policies of his predecessor, Nikita Khrushchev.  Under pressure from the West, Brezhnev permitted increased emigration through the 70’s and into the 80’s. To Illustrate: “In the years 1960-1970, only 4,000 people left the USSR; in the following decade, the number rose to 250,000.[46]

Until I stumbled upon this article I never knew Cincinnati State played a role in helping Russian emigrants adjust to life in the United States.  I don’t know about you, but I would like to learn more about this.

About Cincinnati State Archives

This is the official blog of the archives of Cincinnati State Technical & Community College. The blog will highlight important photos, documents, exhibits, and other items which chronicle the history of Cincinnati State.
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One Response to Destination Cincinnati, by way of the USSR, 1980

  1. Paula Rosenberg Harnist says:

    When I was a kid, every congregation, at every synagogue in Cincinnati (all three of them), collected money to “Free Soviet Jewry”. I remember asking my mother why they thought Soviet jewelry should be free, and not paid for. Everyone agreed I was ready for the borscht belt. Funny.

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