Former Soviet Union

WATCH: To Start Another Life, Free

Jun 17, 2021

Ilia, a gay man originally from Russia, has been able to restart his life in safety in the U.S. In this original video, he recounts his ordeal, his escape from Russia, and how he has “learned to be free” in his new homeland.

To Start Another Life, Free

Ilia, a gay man originally from Russia, has been able to restart his life in safety in the U.S.

Regina Spektor's Refugee Story

Russian-born Jewish singer-songwriter Regina Spektor, whose family came to the United States with the help of HIAS, reflects on her move to New York in 1989.

Once Refugees, Now Veterans

Nov 09, 2020

This Veterans Day, HIAS is highlighting the service of refugees in the U.S. armed forces.

Both History and Present Show Why We Should Help Refugees

Jan 27, 2020

One student tries to find new ways to get involved in the American Jewish movement for refugees and asylum seekers.

Playwright Sees Today's Immigration Issues in Her Family History

Jan 17, 2020

Bena Shklyanoy transformed her family history in the former Soviet Union into a play whose themes are connected to HIAS and today's immigration issues.

Soviet Jews Push Back on Trump’s Executive Order

Feb 03, 2017

“Refugee status is not merely a stamp on paper; it's a state of mind and heart which forces one to risk it all for better life. We feel affinity and kinship to those in the same plight.”

Omnibus Bill Extends the Lautenberg Amendment

Dec 23, 2015

Last week President Obama signed into law a massive $1.1 trillion bill to fund the government. Nestled deep in the bill was a small provision that makes a world of difference to families who are persecuted due to their religious beliefs.
Julie Smolyansky's last days in Kiev before her parents were resettled to the U.S.

America Welcomed Me. Why Not the Syrians?

Sep 30, 2015

Julie Smolyansky isn’t surprised that the idea of resettling thousands of Syrian refugees in the United States makes some people uncomfortable. She faced similar suspicion when her family was resettled in the United States from the former Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War.
Julia and her husband with her "American parents"

Adopted “American Parents” Helped Soviet Refugee Thrive

Aug 13, 2015

“Despite how difficult it was in Kyrgyzstan, I never considered applying for asylum before I came to America,” Julia Vinsky said. She calmly described a childhood that involved beatings, broken ribs, concussions and even a kidnapping. She sums up her parent’s attitude succinctly: “you are Jewish, so this is how it is.”