8 2022

“Let My People Go” A Local Success Story


Virtual Event | Jewish Federation of NENY 184 Washington Avenue Ext.
Albany, NY 12203
(518) 783-7800

Contact Linda Pollack Kessler
(518) 783-7800 ext.


“Let My People Go” A Local Success Story

More than thirty years ago, our Jewish Federation played an integral part in helping a Refusenik family start a new life. Join us on Zoom and hear from the Kwartin family and the volunteers who made it happen. 

In 1978, the Kwartin family, living in Moscow, applied to the Soviet authorities for an exit visa with the hope of fulfilling their dream of making Aliyah to Israel. This was the beginning of a ten-year struggle with many refusals, persecution, and hardship.

After hearing the story of this family, the Jewish Federation of Schenectady, encouraged by local residents Boris Goldgof, Josie Kivort, and many others, led an extraordinary effort that included fundraising, press releases, letters to President Reagan and Queen Elizabeth, and frequent contact with the Kwartin family.

Finally in April 1987, the six Kwartin's—Ina, David, and their children: Hana, Ilana, Shmuel, and Rina—made Aliyah to Israel.

Over thirty years later, Ilana, now Dr. Kwartin, is the Regional Director for the Western United States of the Jewish Agency for Israel. Ilana lives with her family in Los Angeles. Her job includes building a better relationship between American Jews and Israel and making sure that every Jew who wishes to make Aliyah from her region may do so.

Join Ilana and the Kwartin family on Zoom, along with Boris Goldgof and Josie Kivort, to revisit the personal story of this Russian Jewish family forever changed by the perseverance of our Jewish Federation and the local community. 

Virtual | No charge | Open to the community

REGISTER HERE: https://jewishfedny.regfox.com/let-my-people-go-22

Dr. Ilana Kwartin was born in the Former Soviet Union and made Aliyah in 1987. She grew up in Jerusalem and served as a commander and officer in an IDF field intelligence unit, including service deep in the Gaza Strip.

Afterward, Ilana earned B.A. degrees in Law and Psychology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an M.A. in Conflict Resolution from the Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Ilana has a Ph.D. in Gender Studies from Bar-Ilan University, after researching “Honor-based Confinement” among married women in Israel.

Ilana’s professional career began in corporate law, but upon moving to Israel’s south in 2009, she became an activist, working specifically toward women’s rights. In addition to running her own legal practice specializing in women’s rights in the workplace and family, for many years Ilana has taught Zumba to women and young girls, both in Israel’s southern periphery and to at-risk populations, as a means to self-empowerment.

Currently, Ilana is Regional Director, Western United States, Jewish Agency for Israel, overseeing departments including shlichim (emissaries), Aliyah (immigration), partnerships, and strategy. Before moving to Los Angeles with her family, Ilana was Vice President and Head of Resource Development at Eretz-Ir, an organization that develops urban communities in Israel’s periphery via entrepreneurship and employment centers. Ilana also lectures on the convergence of Law and Gender and on Social Entrepreneurship. Ilana is the author of "Imprisoned: Women in Extreme Controlling Relationships," which explores a hidden phenomenon and is based on her Ph.D. research.

She helped found and is a resident-from-afar in Eliav, a community for Secular and Orthodox in the Judean foothills. There she co-founded an inclusive, Orthodox minyan (Minyan Meshatef) and, more recently, founded a shared working space and business network in her community to bolster entrepreneurship and self-employment in her local region.

Ilana is married to BG, a tour guide and educator, and mother of four children: Tamara, Yoav, Ivri and Arava. 

Sponsor: Jewish Federation of NENY & Jewish Agency for Israel