1970 AD to 1990 AD, Psalm 145: The Refuzniks.

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This generation of the 1970s and 1980s.

According to our count, this generation is the 145th generation associated with Psalm 145. It is in this Psalm 145 that we therefore find an illustration of the facts of this generation.

This generation begins with “the 1973 war”, which was catastrophic for Israel in its early days. The first oil shock that followed marked the end of the « glorious thirty« . The economic crises will follow one another in the world.

The first Zionist movements often had an atheistic connotation. The 1973 war put an end to the excitement following the first conflicts in the Hebrew state. It results in a “return to Jewish values” in Israel and also in Jewish communities around the world. But also by a new exaltation for the Jewish state for the evangelical communities mainly in the USA.

In this return to values, the community of Russian Jews is at the forefront of this generation. Having resisted both physical elimination by Hitler and religious elimination by Stalin, “Russian Jews” are reclaiming their ancestral religion.

The “refusniks” are fighting to reclaim this heritage and to be able to emigrate to Israel.

The « implosion of the USSR » which materializes at the end of this generation (1991) allows this emigration to Israel from this generation and also to the next generation.

This implosion was largely facilitated by the Chernobyl disaster, 80 years after the bloody pogroms in Ukraine.


The 1973 war

Croissance_économie_francaise annote

The end of the Second World War began a period of almost uninterrupted economic growth for all belligerents. From 1945 to 1975, hence the name of the « thirty glorious » given at this period.

This generation of the 1970s and 1980s establishes a new global equilibrium where the West tries to maintain its economic power over the world. In fact, the crises succeed each other until today, gradually losing their illusions of hegemony to the former world powers, while the third world of yesterday gradually emerges and slowly reappropriates its share of wealth.

The first crisis detected is that following the Yom Kippur war in 1973: the first oil shock.

The previous generation (1950s and 1960s) saw Israeli armies triumph and impose their superiority. This generation begins with the 1973 war, the Yom Kippur War.

If Israel triumphs again, the doubt has settled, the beginnings of the war have been disastrous, and the Arab world shows that it does not want Jewish troublemakers in what it considers its territories.

Return to values

But this half-hearted victory associated with the recent revival of Jerusalem gives rise to a new adherence of the Jewish people to his God. If the first generations of Zionists were often marked by atheism, a return to religion takes place at this generation:

  • In Israel [1], In Israel, a veritable ideological tornado has fallen on the country since the Yom Kippur War, sweeping in its wake most of the identity anchors of the first years of the state. Its effects are all the more spectacular that they occurred at a time of great ideological emptiness and disarticulation of the political system dating from the heroic era of Yishuv: wear of large socialist formations leaving a calamitous social record, sclerosis of the kibbutz movement blockage of the parliamentary system and the rise of extra-parliamentary movements tearing each other apart over the future of the occupied territories and the nature of the weekly sabbatical rest. […]
  • At the same time as the exhaustion of Zionism and the erosion of the more or less successful synthesis of socialism, Zionism and Judaism of Enlightenment which has long served as an ideological and cultural basis for a large part of the population, it is also since 1973 the desire for a Judaism more « rooted » and less ethereal, a Judaism blooming the ghetto and the diaspora, to which many writers and famous artists « Canaanite » or « atheists » have succumbed.
  • The expressions of this spiritual outburst are multiple: spectacular development of « Jewish studies » in the universities, spontaneous multiplication and without any intervention of the institutions of the State of circles of initiation to Jewish mysticism, philosophy and liturgy; movement of repentance (tshuva) and return to a lifestyle of strict religious observance; invention of « new age » religious practices and membership of thousands of former agnostics, belonging to all classes of society – kibbutzim members, famous artists, army officers … – to Hasidic communities of all persuasions; Record attendance at the Rosh Hashana and Kippur Offices in the Kibbutzim band-aid oratories. […] (many) manifestations of  » re-Judaisation » which, added to the extraordinary population growth of the ultra-orthodox population, have undermined the basic secularism of Israeli society, heir to two centuries of Haskalah.

This religious exaltation does not only affect Jewish populations. The return of Jewish sovereignty to his land and especially to Jerusalem creates a religious effervescence, especially among the evangelists who in the United States become the main pro-Israel lobby even more engaged than the American Jewish community in its support for Israel:

  • The fact [2] of possessing Jerusalem has gradually changed the spirit of governance of Israel, traditionally secular, socialist, modern. If the state had a religion, it was as much the historical science of Judean archeology as orthodox Judaism.
  • The capture of Jerusalem delighted even the most secular Jews. Zion’s desire was so deep, so rooted in songs, prayers and mythology, the prohibition of the wall so long and so painful, and the aura of holiness so powerful that, from one end of the world to the other, the most agnostic Jews experienced a feeling of euphoria close to religious ecstasy – the experience which, in the modern world, came closest to it.
  • For the religious Jews, heirs of those who, for millennia, from Babylon to Cordova and Vilnius, waited, as we have seen, the imminent salvation, it was a sign, a deliverance, a redemption, the fulfillment biblical prophecies, the end of exile and the return to the gates and courts of the Temple in the restored city of David. […]
  • The Jews were not the only ones to be moved: the Christian evangelists, far more numerous and powerful, especially in the United States, also lived this moment as an apocalyptic ecstasy. They were convinced that two of the preconditions for the Last Judgment were now in place: Israel was restored and Jerusalem was Jewish.

This exaltation towards God is the subject of the beginning of the psalm of this generation:

  1. A praise of David. I shall exalt You, my God the King, and I shall bless Your name forever and ever.
  2. Every day I shall bless You, and I shall praise Your name forever and ever.
  3. The Lord is great and very much praised, and His greatness cannot be searched.

The beginning of the psalm illustrates the renewal of adherence to God in Israel, a religious accession that disrupts the secular foundations of the State of Israel

  1. Generation to generation will praise Your works, and they will recite Your mighty deeds.
  2. Of the majesty of the glory of Your splendor and the words of Your wonders I shall speak.

This passage echoes the terms used in Psalm 111, which related to the emergence of Jewish mysticism through the diffusion of the Zohar at the end of the 13th century. The Kabalist principles that are expanding in Israel to this generation define an ideal of harmony, especially between the masculine and feminine elements, between the Tifferet sefira (the « Splendor ») and the Malchut sefira (the « majesty« ). « ). Terms that are appropriately taken up in this passage of the psalm of this generation.

(extract of the psalm 145 associated to this generation, verses 6 to 12)

  1. And the strength of Your awesome deeds they will tell, and Your greatness I shall sing.
  2. Of the remembrance of Your abundant goodness they will speak, and of Your righteousness they will sing.
  3. The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and of great kindness.
  4. The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are on all His works.
  5. All Your works will thank You, O Lord, and Your pious ones will bless You.
  6. They will tell the glory of Your kingdom, and they will speak of Your might.
  7. To make known to the children of men His mighty deeds and the glory of the majesty of His kingdom.

This passage of the psalm of this generation evokes the gradual adherence of nations to the power of the Lord whose promises are realized in the image of the return of the Jews on their land and return of their sovereignty over Jerusalem. This recognition is not limited to the Jewish people but is also progressively recognized by nations as demonstrated by the adherence of the evangelists. Other nations will soon be convinced as well. Even the outcome of the Yom Kippur War, which saw the triumph of the Israeli armies despite the outbreak of the war against them, demonstrates divine power, and is one of the mighty deeds and glory of God.

Russian Jews

European Judaism was decimated during the Holocaust, the last surviving great community of this generation is that of Russia.

If the Jews of Russia have suffered and been violated in the sphere of Russian influence for centuries, it follows that the defeat of the Germans at Stalingrad prevented it from disappearing completely during the Second World War.

Polish Jews were completely decimated during World War II, and the ever-lasting anti-Semitism of Polish, materialized among other things by new pogroms after the war, forced the few survivors to leave Poland, most of them to emigrate to Israel.

After Poland with nearly 3 million Polish Jews exterminated by the Nazis, Russian Jews have quantitatively had the biggest losses with nearly a million and a half victims killed by the Nazis. If only about 10% of Polish Jews survive the Shoah, nearly 50% of Soviet Jews, mainly those in Russia, survive the Holocaust.

Thus with nearly a million and a half Jews at the end of the war, the Jewish community in Russia is the last major Jewish community in Europe. But to the physical elimination put in place by the Nazis, is added the attempt of spiritual elimination carried out by the Soviets. This one already active since the Russian revolution of 1917 continues intensively after the war before and after the death of Stalin.


Stalin [3] died in March 1953, the physical terror gives way to a greyness that does not fundamentally change the lives of Soviet Jews, nor that of their non-Jewish compatriots. […] Official anti-Semitism does not disappear, disguised now, in the early 1960s, under Khrushchev, in a violent campaign against « economic crimes ».

The Refuzniks

However the vice is loosening somewhat, Western Jews are beginning to visit the Soviet Union. Abroad, more and more voices are demanding the respect of the individual and community rights of the Jews of the empire, and the Kremlin, obviously, is not insensitive:

  • Under [4] the Khrushchevian « thaw » (1956-1964), Brejnivian « stagnation » (1964-1985) and the beginning of Gorbachev’s « perestroika » (1985-1987), Soviet Jews were caught between two irreconcilable constraints. : that of a deculturation imposed by the suppression of their cultural and educational institutions as well as by the ideological condemnation of the Hebrew language and Zionism, and that of a socio-professional discrimination, systematized in 1956 by the national quota policy, practiced in many academic and professional sectors.
  • As a result, Jews are gradually marginalized from Soviet society and some of them see themselves as second-class citizens. In addition, the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 and the rapid deterioration of diplomatic relations between the USSR and the Hebrew State (1951-1953) increased their sense of isolation: Jews are suspected of double allegiance to Moscow and Jerusalem, whose myth is regularly mobilized in the official press to triumph in the virulent anti-Zionist campaign of the immediate post-war Six Days (1968-1971). […]
  • In the second half of the 1960s, three major paths emerged in the Jewish minority in direct response to the policy of social and cultural discrimination practiced by the Soviet administrative apparatus, the effects of which were reinforced by the anti-Semitic whiff of anti-Zionist propaganda : emigration to Israel, the size of which is dictated by the immediate political calculations of the Soviet government, the reformist challenge courageously launched by the dissidents and the refuzniks – nominating candidates for emigration to Israel without visas – and the daily adaptation of the « Jews of silence » according to the image of the writer Elie Wiesel. […]
  • The Jewish religion, whose practice had timidly reemerged during the war and in the immediate post-war period, was shattered by Khrushchev’s (1957-1964) campaign. This campaign, affecting most of Soviet territory and all religions, resulted in virulent attacks against Judaism, the closure of more than fifty synagogues on the few institutions remained open after the revolution of 1917 and the prohibition of Jewish religious practice with, first and foremost, the manufacture of unleavened bread (matsa) for Passover and the rite of circumcision (brit mila). Circumcision has been the subject of particularly harsh treatment by the propaganda and police services: it was perceived as a threat to the official policy of assimilation and stigmatized as a barbaric act with harmful medical consequences. […]
  • Anti-Zionist rhetoric, making the Jews play the role of « agents of US imperialism and capitalism », becomes a constant feature of Soviet propaganda. […] (this one) triumphs during the anti-Zionist campaign launched after the Israeli victory in the Six Day War (1968-1971). […] Borrowing Hitler’s propaganda a whole stock of anti-Semitic cartoons, the press presents the Israelis as Nazis […]
  • However, the antisemitic violence of anti-Zionist propaganda and the official institutionalization of the social and cultural exclusion of the Jewish minority contribute precisely to nourish an unprecedented interest in Zionism leading to a major movement of emigration towards Israel. […]
  • In 1971, the first year of mass emigration, 14,000 visas for Israel were granted, the figure doubling in 1972 and 1973 (30,000), before declining in the middle of the decade and then rising in 1978 (30,000) to reach a peak in 1979 with 51,000 departures. […]
  • Visa policy restrictions, which fluctuated in the 1970s and were almost total in the 1980s, led to the emergence of informal opposition movements fighting for the general respect of the legal right to emigration and for the objective Zionist Repatriation of Jews in their national home. […] Jews are overrepresented in the currents of protest advocating the liberalization and democratization of the regime. […] Many Soviet Jews first became known as activists of the democratic movement in order to turn to Jewish culture and the defense of the aliyah like Alexander Voronel, Maia Ulaanovskaya or Dora Chtourmann.
  • It is in this context of emergence of informal protest networks that the refuznik movement grew up in the 1970s and 1980s. The name of refuznik (otkaznik) refers to candidates for emigration to Israel who are not granted a visa. Restricted in the 1970s, the number of refuzniks increased considerably in the following decade, marked by a net tightening of migration policy: in Moscow, for example, there are hundreds by the 1970s and by the thousands in the following decade. […]
  • New expressions of Jewish culture emerge, bypassing official surveillance and censorship, and thereby taking on a contentious dimension. The Jewish heritage reappears in the USSR in the 1950s in the Baltic countries, field of effervescence of Jewish culture and political war before the war. Spontaneous Zionist circles, amateur theater and dance groups, private gatherings of young people at the synagogue, and secret recollections of the Holocaust massacre sites set the stage for spontaneous establishment. a movement of national renewal among Soviet Jews. […] Moscow takes over from the Baltic countries by offering itself as the backbone of Zionist activities in the Soviet Union. It is in the capital that the number of Jewish refuzniks and activists is proportionally the highest and that contacts are formed between Jewish activists from Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic countries, the Caucasus and Central Asia. . […]
  • This cultural renaissance continues with the introduction, in the late 1960s, of informal Hebrew language classes to which unemployed refusniks spend much of their time. Hebrew is studied first as a propaedeutic to emigration, then as a privileged way of cultural and spiritual return to Jewishness undermined by the Soviet regime. […]
  • The cultural struggle and the political opposition are distinguished theoretically and strategically in the debate opposing, since 1973, the partisans of the cultural revival (koultourniki), whose priority is to reinforce Jewish culture in the Soviet Union to the detriment of Zionism, and the militants from the right to departure (politiki), who do not believe in the possibility of a genuine renaissance of Jewish life in the USSR and prefer to focus on the political and legal struggle for emigration to Israel.
  • A third trend emerges in the 1980s as a result of the virtual closure of Soviet borders, eliminating any immediate migration perspective, return to study and Jewish religious practice. […]
  • From the opening of the Soviet borders in 1989 to the mid-2000s, the Russian Jewish map is redrawn, marrying a movement of global dispersion and local depopulation. In the decade following the fall of the Gorbachev government, more than a million Soviet Jews, along with non-Jewish family members, leave the territory to settle in Israel, the United States, Canada, Germany, the United States or Australia, where they soon become communities with a distinct socio-cultural profile. […]
  • At the end of the Gorbachev era, the freedom of emigration abroad was soon preceded by that of reconstructing on the spot the Jewish institutions and communities decimated by seventy years of communism. Indeed, the Glasnost and Perestroika policies have helped to liberalize the expression of the ethnic and religious aspirations of the Soviet Union while allowing limited formation of independent associations of power. Like other minorities in the Union, Soviet Jews spontaneously set up a multitude of cultural, educational, religious and charitable organizations whose institutionalization and hierarchy would, not without difficulties, take shape in following years.

Recall that the « status » of refuznik was not enviable:

  • The most stubborn [5] political criminals, dissidents, and refuzniks, those Jews who have been refused exit visas and have had the bad idea of complaining in public, are entitled to preferential treatment: psychiatric hospitals. Their number rose to thirty by the good care of Andropov, then boss of the KGB (until 1982).

Thus to this generation of the 1970s and 1980s, one of the most fought Jewish communities over the centuries, a community that has since the Russian revolution had to live outside of its faith is recovering. This community can within the territories of the former USSR or outside to return to Judaism. After suffering pogroms and extermination (all those who fall) and (all who are bent down) the spine in matters of religion under Soviet rule, the Jews of the former USSR are recovering.

This is what the following psalm of this generation expresses:

  1. Your kingdom is a kingdom of all times, and Your ruling is in every generation.
  2. The Lord supports all those who fall and straightens all who are bent down.
  3. Everyone’s eyes look to You with hope, and You give them their food in its time.
  4. You open Your hand and satisfy every living thing [with] its desire.
  5. The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds.
  6. The Lord is near to all who call Him, to all who call Him with sincerity.
  7. He does the will of those who fear Him, and He hears their cry and saves them.

The implosion of the USSR

As the Jews of the USSR emancipated, the USSR collapsed before finally exploding in 1991. The Soviet bloc was already shaken at the end of the previous generation. In 1968, Czechoslovaks try to obtain more freedom. The armies of the Warsaw Pact intervened in August 1968 followed by interventions by the Czechoslovak army in August 1969, which finally ended the Prague Spring. Communism in the Soviet bloc is suspended, it will last a generation.

In 1991, at the end of this generation of the 1970s and 1980s, the USSR and communism collapsed.

The Soviet empire, an empire which, like the precedents, has been granted a pariah’s place to the Jews, is in the process of disintegrating. This dislocation is almost complete at the end of this generation of the 1970s and 1980s.

The application of communism in the USSR was imposed as a founding dogma incompatible with religions, mainly monotheistic religions.

Communism in the USSR is a form of atheism. Among the religions fought, the Jewish religion is the most fought, because to this form of atheism, Russians like the other nationalities of the USSR have not abandoned their traditional anti-Semitism adapting it to new dogmas. The fight against Zionism and capitalism is a privileged way to display an updated anti-Semitism.

But this impious empire that fought the Jews will not survive them like many other powerful empires before him who also fought the Jews.

This collapse, paralleled by the revival of Judaism in the Russian sphere, inside and outside the borders of the former USSR, is the subject of the following of the psalm of this generation:

  1. The Lord guards all who love Him, and He destroys all the wicked.

Chernobyl, 80 years after the pogroms


It should be noted that the dislocation of the Soviet empire really began in 1986 in the continuity of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. But the Chernobyl disaster takes place 80 years after a series of terrible pogroms and more atrocious than those of the years 1881 and 1882.

The first is that of Kishinev on April 6, 1903 with 49 dead, many wounded and considerable damage. Others follow:

  • The year [7] 1904 sees the list of places of Pogroms (Smela, Rovno, Mohilev) growing. […]
  • Throughout the beginning of April 1905, anti-Jewish violence (perpetrated by counter-terrorist gangs – the « Black Hundreds » put in place by the government police) took place in various towns, including Doussiati, Melitopol, Simferopol. On April 23, the Black Hundreds trigger a terrible pogrom in Zhitomir: it lasts three days. […] In Minsk and Brest-Litovsk (in May 1905), in Lodz in June, in Bialystok and Kerch in July, anti-Jewish violence erupts. […]
  • From 18 to 25 October 1905, bloody pogroms took place in 50 cities (including Kiev, Odessa, Kishinev, Ekaterinoslav), and anti-Jewish violence took place in more than 100 other localities. […] 300 Jews are killed in the city of Odessa alone. […]

In the spring of 1906 the Duma of Empire meets (granted by the manifesto of October 1905); have a lot of hopes. 12 Jewish deputies sit there and it is hoped that they will succeed in advancing the issue of Jewish rights. But, after barely more than two months, the Duma was dissolved by Ukase on July 8, 1906.

  • A few days earlier, a new and bloody pogrom takes place in Bialystok, July 1, 1906. The atrocities committed in Kishinev are renewed. 80 killed in horrible conditions, hundreds of wounded (members torn off, rapes, mutilations, nails in the head, savagery of all kinds). A report is presented to the Duma, which, in its meeting of July 7, dares to protest against these unworthy acts of a civilized country and demands the resignation of the Minister of the Interior. The next day, it is dissolved.
  • The situation is once again chaotic. A court martial sits from September 1906 to January 1907. It sentences to death more than 1000 « political criminals », including a large number of Jews.
  • The new Duma has only 3 Jewish deputies. It is also dissolved (July 1907), just when a new pogrom breaks out in Siedlce: 26 Jews are killed and dozens wounded. (Thereafter, the anti-Jewish measures will harden)

During the next 80 years, many massacres of Jews will take place in these same regions, be it during the Russian Revolution or during the Second World War, especially in Ukraine in the Kiev region.

Thus, near Kiev, 80 years after the Bialystok pogrom of 1906 took place the Chernobyl disaster. This pogrom was all the more dramatic as it was followed by a « validation » by the power of the time. The following generations of that of the Bialystock pogrom largely reproduced the crimes of their fathers, Ukrainians in particular having largely contributed to the elimination of Ukrainian Jews in cooperation with the Nazis.

Chernobyl comes to the fourth generation to bring divine vengeance by water and air, because the nuclear catastrophe spread through the air and polluted the water. If this catastrophe does not explain by itself the fall of the Soviet empire, it has exposed the weaknesses, the powerlessness and the incapacity of the Soviet Union. This has allowed the subject peoples to be braver in their desire to separate from the USSR.

In any case, this generation sees the end of communism in its totalitarian version, the Soviet Jews were the last population of importance still subject to a status of pariah and hampered in the practice of his worship. After the fall of Nazism, the darkest pages of the twentieth century are closed for the benefit of the Jewish people but also of all peoples of the earth.

This justifies, despite the price paid, the conclusion of the psalm of this generation:

  1. My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.


[1] Michel Abitbol: « History of the Jews ». Chapter: « The post-war period » (French: « Histoire des Juifs ». Chapitre : « L’Après-guerre ». (p 641,642))

[2] Simon Sebag Montefiore: « Jerusalem, Biography ». (French: « Jérusalem, Biographie ». (p. 595,596))

[3] (edited by) Elie Barnavi: « Universal History of the Jews ». Chapter: « From Khrushchev to Gorbachev, 1953 – 1991 ». (French:  « Histoire universelle des Juifs ».  Chapitre : « De Khrouchtchev à Gorbatchev, 1953 – 1991 ». (p. 272). )

[4] (Antoine Germa Collective / Benjamin Lellouch / Evelyne Patlagean): « The Jews in History ». Sarah Fainberg’s Chapter: « From Stalinization to Great Migration ». (French: « Les Juifs dans l’histoire ». Chapitre de Sarah Fainberg: « De la déstalinisation à la grande migration ». (p. 734 à 756) ).

[5] Andrei Kozovoy: « The fall of the Soviet Union, 1982-1991 ». (French: « La chute de l’Union Soviétique, 1982-1991 ». (p. 33) )

[7] Renée Neher-Bernheim: « Jewish History of the Revolution to the State of Israel ». (French: « Histoire juive de la Révolution à l’Etat d’Israël ». (p. 490 à 492) )