NCSEJ Mourns Soviet Jewry Activist Maria Slepak, 91

Mark B. Levin


WASHINGTON, DC - September 7, 2017 –We are sad to report that former Soviet activist and Prisoner of Zion Maria Slepak passed away in New York on Wednesday, at age 91.

Maria Slepak and her husband Vladimir were veterans of the Jewish movement in the former Soviet Union and Prisoners of Zion. Vladimir was exiled to eastern Siberia from 1978 to 1983 for unfurling a banner urging Soviet authorities to "Let Us Go." Their apartment in Moscow was a hub of the movement to free Soviet Jews.

The couple was allowed to emigrate in 1987 after a 17-year struggle. Her husband passed away in 2015 at the age of 87.

NCSEJ Chairman Daniel Rubin remembered first meeting the Slepaks in the early 1980s. “Their bravery and commitment to Judaism motivated Volodya to support the Soviet Jewry movement,” Rubin said, “and Masha was right there fighting by his side, bringing the light of hope to refuseniks and activists.”

NCSEJ President Sasha Smukler said, “The Slepaks inspired my generation to get into the Soviet Jewry movement. They have always been a shining example, and their work inspired thousands of young people to become advocates for Soviet Jewry and the Jewish people.”

NCSEJ Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO Mark Levin said, “I had the great privilege to know both Masha and Volodya Slepak throughout their struggle to make aliyah to Israel. They were compassionate and strong leaders of the Soviet Jewry movement. Masha and Volodya fought for and won the freedom of more than a million Jews from the Soviet Union.  Our people lost a wonderful woman yesterday, who truly made a difference for so many others.”

Services will be held today at 1:30 p.m. at the Plaza Jewish Community Chapel in New York City. The funeral will be held at Har HaMenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem on Sunday, September 10.

On behalf of NCSEJ’s Board of Governors, we offer our condolences. May her memory be for a blessing, and may her family and friends be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

For further comment, please contact NCSEJ CEO Mark B. Levin at or at (202) 898-2500.


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Founded in 1971, NCSEJ represents the organized American Jewish community in monitoring and advocating on behalf of the estimated 1.5 million Jews in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, including the 15 successor states of the former Soviet Union.