The Fall of the Iron Curtain


In this lesson, students will learn about the fall of the Iron Curtain and about the release of the Jews from the Soviet Union and its aftermath.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to reflect on the struggle of Soviet Jewry as a whole, and chart its development.



1. Review the background history of the end of the struggle of Soviet Jews (above) having students take note of high and low points of the Jewish experience there (this will be used for a cumulative assessment).

2. Cumulative assessment: have the students create an illuminated timeline of the history of Soviet Jews using pictures and newspaper clippings. The timeline will not be straight, rather will look like a graph, with each event put higher or lower relative to the others depending on whether it was a high or low point for the Jews there.


Alternative Assignments

  • Have the students research individual refuseniks (some well-known examples above) and create a baseball card with their picture and biographical information including how long they were refused, if/for how long they were imprisoned/exiled, and when they emigrated. Create a set out of the cards of the entire class to be distributed to them. Alternatively, have them create a Facebook profile for their refusenik.


  • Reach out to local immigrants from the former Soviet Union in your community – inviting them to the school or sending groups of students to their houses to hear their stories and connect with them.

Download Lesson

Click here to download the full lesson pack in .zip format.

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