ABSTRACT

Since the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee was the only nationwide Jewish organization in the USSR, and since its chairman was regarded as the “number one Jew” in the Soviet Union, it was only natural that Jews would turn to the Committee, and to Mikhoels personally, to solve their pressing problems. We knew from indirect sources that there were a great number of complaints and requests from all over the country. Ehrenburg wrote in his memoirs that “…thousands of people turned to Mikhoels for help, because they saw him as a wise rabbi, the defender of the oppressed.” 1 Fefer testified that “…he (Mikhoels) used to receive letters by the hundreds.” 2 Eynikayt received an average of five hundred readers’ letters a month. 3 The impression of Yosef Kerler, 4 a young Yiddish writer who had served in the army and arrived in Moscow towards the end of the war, was that “…Jews looked upon the Committee as their representative…and as the only Jewish address.” 5 When Fefer came to Kiev in June, 1944, numerous local Jews voiced their complaints to him, and he promised to take them up with Shcherbakov. 6 B. Z. Goldberg, 7 the Committee’s guest in 1946, believed that it was “a major undertaking” and not just a committee of writers. While traveling with Fefer to Jewish population centers in the former German occupied territories, Goldberg observed how local Jews turned to the JAFC for help. 8