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September 23, 1988 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-09-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

FRONTLINES

DETROIT'S
HIGHEST
RATES

Professor Seeks More Positions
At Technion For Soviet Jews

ELIZABETH KAPLAN

Staff Writer

F

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Effective Annual Yield*

Minimum Deposit of $500

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'Compounded Quarterly
Rates subject to change without notice

This is a fixed rate account that is in
sured to $100,000 by the Federal Sav-
ings and Loan Insurance Corporation
(FSLIC). Substantial Interest Penalty for
early withdrawal from certificate
accounts.

FIRST
SECURITY
Y

MAIN OFFICE

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(Just South of Orchard lake)

BANK FSB
PHONE 338.7700
352.7700

OUAl HOUSING

OPPORTUNITY

14

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 1988

HOU RS:
MON.-THURS.
9:30-430
FRI.
9:30-6:00

1

or the first time in his
life mathematics pro-
fessor Alexander Ioffe
has his own office.
Located in the Technion,
Israel's institute of
technology, the office is filled
with modern supplies that
amaze the former refusenik.
"All the equipment — from
pencils to computers — is in
much better condition than
anything in the Soviet
Union," he said. "It's the first
time I go to work with
pleasure?'
Ten years ago, Ioffe was ap-
pointed professor in absentia
at the Thchnion. He had been
fired from his position at
Moscow University after he
applied in December 1976 to
immigrate to Israel.
Last January, Ioffe received
permission to leave the Soviet
Union. He came directly to
Israel and began working at
the Technion.
A guest of the American
Society for Thchnion, Ioffe was
in Detroit recently to help
raise funds to establish posi-
tions at the Technion for
qualified Soviet Jews.
Ioffe believes much of the
credit for his release belongs
to scientists and mathemati-
cians like Zvi Ziegler, dean of
the Thchnion graduate school.
"They were helpful ab-
solutely," Ioffe said. "I am
sure they made a difference in
my getting out?'
Now, Ioffe is working to
bring other Soviet Jews with
technical expertise to Israel.
He said more Soviet Jews
would come to Israel if they
were guaranteed jobs in their
professions.
Ioffe's own son, Dimitri, is a
doctoral candidate in the
math department at the
Thchnion.
Ioffe was raised in a home
he described as "absolutely
assimilated. I always knew I
was Jewish, but just that and
nothing beyond that?'
His father, an engineer, was
a member of the Communist
Party. His mother also was a
loyal communist.
Only Ioffe's grandmother
retained remnants of her
Jewish heritage. Ioffe
remembers her preparing and
baking for Shabbat, but
points out she had no Jewish
ritual objects in her home.
Ioffe said this secular upbr-
inging is typical for many
Soviet Jews, but it puts them
in a curious position.
"We are perfectly the same

Alexander Ioffe: Better conditions.

as our Russian counterparts.
We know Russian culture and
tradition," he said.
"But the word 'Jew' is writ-
ten in our passports, and that
factor influences everything
from if we are able to find a
job to if we will be able to con-
tinue our education."
Ioffe might have opted for
life without Judaism. In fact,
he did just that for many
years.
During the 1950s and
1960s, Ioffe said, he and his
wife led a secular existence,
"and we were completely in
that life."
His links to Judaism chang-
ed in 1967, just after the Six-
Day War.
Like
many
other
refuseniks, Ioffe was deeply
affected by the war. He said
he felt a new pride in the
State of Israel and in the
Jewish people.

And because of these
positive feelings — not
because he was a victim of
anti-Semitism — Ioffe decided
to request a visa for Israel.
Before filing to emigrate, he
was satisfied with his career
at Moscow University. He
published numerous articles
and enjoyed his teaching.
Like other Soviet citizens
he was not permitted to travel
outside the Communist bloc
and consequently missed
many conferences. "But in
other respects, it wasn't bad,"
he said.
After he requested permis-
sion to leave the Soviet
Union, Ioffe's professional and
social status changed
drastically. He knew it would.
"Applying to emigrate
means cutting off all ties," he
said.
Ioffe feels he was fortunate,
though, because he was only
demoted at work. His salary
was cut, and the only class he

was allowed to teach was a
refresher course for
engineers.
The professor believes the
certainty of international
outrage was the one thing
that stopped Soviet
authorities from firing him.
Although he was not work-
ing at the university, Ioffe's
days remained busy. He con-
tinued his work at home, and
his life as a refusenik made
many demands on his time.
"Being a refusenik is a sort
of profession itself," he said.
"It takes lots of struggle, lots
of strength."
Ioffe's career was not the on-
ly thing lost because of his
desire to live in Israel. He
also lost his relationships
with many of his colleagues
at the university.
Even those with whom he
remained friends did not
speak out in his behalf, but
Ioffe bears no grudges. "Just
keeping relations (with one
who, applies to emigrate) re-
quires enough courage," he
said.

Initially Ioffe's parents, and
those of his wife, were oppos-
ed to their children's decision
to emigrate.
They were not hostile to
Israel, he said, but having
their children move there

"Being a refusenik
is a sort of
profession itself,"
he said. "It takes
lots of struggle,
lots of strength."

was "such an alien idea to
them?'
"Every Jew in the Soviet
Union has some interest in
what happens in Israel," he
said. "But it's one thing to sit
at home in your room and
talk about it. It's another
thing when your children
want to go there."
It took 12 years before Ioffe
received his exit visa, and he
left at a time when "official
anti-Semitism is definitely
decreasing" he said.

Ioffe said the policies of
Soviet leader Mikhail Gor-
bachev will likely result in
improvements for Jews in the
country.
Yet not for a moment would
he return.
"Even if things get better,
I don't want to be there?" he
said. "There's no way I'd ever
go back.

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