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How Chess Helped Jews Survive in the Soviet Union (Subtitled)

Natan SharanskyFilmed at Limmud Conference 2014

The game of chess became an alternative to the Yeshiva’s Chavruta: it enabled sharpening the sophistication of one’s thinking in a world of forced assimilation. I speak of how chess helped preserve the sanity of Soviet Jewry in general, and myself in particular, through the hardships of the Gulag.

Natan Sharansky, born in Donetsk, in the Former Soviet Union, was a Prisoner of Zion and a leader in the struggle for the right of Soviet Jews to immigrate to Israel as well as a spokesman for the human rights movement. Subsequent to his request to make aliyah, Mr. Sharansky was arrested on trumped up charges of espionage. Natan Sharansky was tried in a Soviet court, convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison. He served nine years in the Gulag with many stretches in solitary confinement. He was released following massive public campaigns by World Jewry and officials in the West. On the same day that he was released he made aliyah. In the first few years in Israel, he established the Zionist Forum to assist in the absorption of Soviet olim. In the 1990′s, he established the Yisrael B’Aliyah party in order to accelerate the integration of Russian Jews. He served in four successive Israeli governments, as Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. He is the author of three bestselling books and is the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Natan Sharansky remains a champion of the right of all people to live in freedom and believes that the advancement of freedom is critical to peace and security around the world.

In 2009, Natan Sharansky was elected Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency. As chairman, one of his great missions is to ensure the continued existence of the Jewish People.

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