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The Hebrew Teachers and Other Cultural Activities
The Zionist activity in the Soviet Union increased between the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War – and paradoxically intensified even more in the period following the Yom Kippur War. This activity focused upon clandestine printing and distribution of books on the Jewish People and the Land of Israel (of the popular books was "Exodus"), in the study of the Hebrew language in units and groups, in classes on Jewish history and the Jewish religion, in learning Hebrew songs and dances and more.
In the latter half of the Seventies, the number of gatherings of young Jewish men and women in the forests of the Moscow area and the vicinity of other main cities increased. Many meetings took place on Jewish holidays and especially on the two holidays of the State of Israel: Independence Day and Jerusalem Day. Most of the gatherings were accompanied by "décor" and reference materials that came via "tourists" from Israel: Colorful placards, pictures, booklets, song books, games and more, most of which were published by the Religious Section and the Youth and Pioneer Department of the Jewish Agency. Hundreds of Jewish youths regularly participated in these gatherings, thus creating a hard core of activists who drew in others from throughout the Soviet Union.
The flag of these activities was borne – with great self-sacrifice – by several dozen refuseniks whose names became famous in Israel and the world, among them Iosif Begun, Victor Brailovsky, Zeev Dashevsky, Yuli Kosharovsky, the brothers Alexander and Michael Kholmyansky, Eliyahu Essas, Ari Wolvowski and others. All those mentioned – and quite a few others – were arrested dozens of times by the KGB, and some of them sat in prison for short or long stretches of time.
For example, presented below are the wondrous "adventures" of Ari Wolvowski, who was a particularly vigorous Zionist activist, who created around himself a circle of Hebrew students and organized many Jewish-Zionist gatherings. Wolvowski was arrested dozens of times due to his activities, yet he was not deterred. He was summoned on many occasions to "talks" with KGB personnel, but these did not scare him. In 1985, the Soviets decided to put him on trial on charges of "treason against the homeland." On the eve of the trial, he firmly demanded that his interrogations be conducted in Hebrew – with a translation to Russian – and so it was. At the beginning of his trial, he declared that his name was "Ari ben Hanina Wolvowski" and when one of the judges claimed that in his Soviet passport his name read "Leonid Wolvowski," he replied: "I am an Israeli citizen, and my Israeli identification document lists my Hebrew name." He appeared in court with a yarmulke on his head, and when he was required to remove it, he announced that if it was removed – he would not cooperate with the trial. The judges consulted between themselves and allowed him to remain with the yarmulke. The climax was his stubborn demand to speak in Hebrew in his trial – and the judges accepted it. At the end of his trial he was sentenced to three years imprisonment and was exiled to Siberia.

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