On this date we interrupt our "program" to remember that on this date, in 1987, twenty-six years ago, which feels like only yesterday, our system, with very Jewish organization gathered on the National Mall by the hundreds of thousands, to demand freedom for Soviet Jewry. All of who were there committed ourselves to never again be silent along with those inside and outside our federated system who were at the forefront of what became to be known as the Soviet Jewry Movement.
I was there with my community, one of several hundred Chicagoans who traveled to D.C. that day to joined the mass rally -- the banners, the cries, speeches and songs and applause. It was a great day -- one that culminated in the seminal Operation Exodus -- in which we began to write a chapter in modern Jewish History -- a small part of the chapter written in capital letters and blood, sweat and tears by those heroes in Refusal and the over 1,000,000 who left the former Soviet Union for freedom, those who have so strengthened Israel and our own communities.
And, looking back from the perspective of today, I will also remember that day and the Exodus and the Exodus Campaign which followed that day as the pinnacle of our system. I believe we can rise to the occasion and ascend the summit again and again and again -- and I know you do as well.