LARRY LERNER, President
Two themes have run strongly and concurrently through the life and careers of attorney Larry Lerner. Even as he was building a preeminent intellectual law practice in New Jersey, he applied his talents to the interrelationship between social justice needs and the rule of law. In the sixties he handled dozens of racial discrimination cases and led the coalition of groups fighting for fair housing and employment in New Jersey. At the same time, he successfully pursued the cases before the New Jersey Supreme Court that reapportioned New Jersey on “one man, one vote.” He also was able to obtain an injunction to remove the liquor license in New Jersey of a famous national organization that discriminated on the basis of race.
Mr. Lerner is a graduate of Newark College of Engineering with a Bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering and also has a law degree from Georgetown University. He is a member of the bar of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia and has been admitted to the US Supreme Court. The firm he founded, Lerner, David, in Westfield, NJ has over 70 attorneys and represents major companies around the world.
Starting in 1979, he devoted much of his energies to a concern for social justice in the Soviet Union. This entailed many trips to the Soviet Union to visit with Refuseniks and ex-prisoners of conscience. He helped found an organization that filed legal pleadings for political prisoners based on the treaty obligations and the Constitution of the Soviet Union.
In 1996, after a failed campaign for the House of Representatives, Larry retired from the practice of law and devoted his activities to organizations whose purposes he could support. He maintained his interest in the Former Soviet Union and after a stint as an officer became the President of the Union of Councils for Jews in the former Soviet Union. This organization today concentrates on fighting antisemitism, and xenophobia, and promotes human rights and the rule of law in those countries. It also coordinates the activities of over 50 human rights organizations while monitoring violations of human rights and advocating for an end to these practices.
In the early nineties, Larry joined the Board of the Education Fund for Israeli Civil Rights and Peace, the forerunner of MeretzUSA. An ardent Zionist since his youth as a member of HaShomer HaTsair he found a home for his views that Israel can only survive if it is truly a free and democratic state for all of its citizens. He further believes that a fair and impartial solution to the present stalemate is an Israeli State and a Palestinian State side by side with secure borders. He served as President of MeretzUSA for the three years. As a founding member of the Board of J Street, a delegate to the World Zionist Congress for the last fifteen years, and with a desire to continue his support of the Union of Councils, Larry continues his work for social justice and the rule of law.
Larry resides in Warren, New Jersey with his wife Beverly. They have four children (David, Brian, Mara Levy, and Roger) and twelve grandchildren.
DR. LEONID STONOV, International Director
Dr. Leonid Stonov is a former leader of the Refuseniks movement, currently overseeing UCSJ’s bureaus and partner NGOs throughout the Former Soviet Union (including Moscow, St. Petersburg, Almaty, Bishkek, Lviv, Minsk, Tbilisi, Riga). During the twelve year period in which he was a Refusenick in Moscow,Dr. Stonov founded and directed the Public Committee for monitoring Visa-Office performance.This was the first NGO in the FSU that helped people to emigrate. Dr. Stonov was also the chairman of the Refusenik Legal Seminar on Emigration Problems and together with the UCSJ lawyers wrote the draft of the first Emigration Law in Soviet history. This was presented to the Supreme Soviet in 1989. In 1989, he also organized the first International Symposium “Freedom of Movement for Everybody” in Moscow. Dr. Stonov was the member of the commission in the Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG), participated in human rights projects in the International Foundation for Survival and Development of Humanity, and was also a member of the Presidium of VAAD (Confederation of Jewish Organizations and Communities). For his anti-Soviet activity, he was deprived of his academic degree in 1981.
Dr. Stonov graduated from the Biological Department of the Moscow State University in 1954 and received his Ph.D. in Agriculture in Leningrad Plant Protection Scientific Institute (Ministry of Agriculture) in 1965. Before applying for emigration, he was a well-known scientist in plant protection chemicals; he wrote 4 books, more than 150 articles, and had about 80 Invention Certificates and Patents. He was the chair of the laboratory for testing herbicides and defoliants in the Institute for Plant Protection Chemicals in the Ministry of Chemical Industry, Moscow.
Since his arrival to the USA on December 7, 1990, Dr. Stonov has worked together with many NGOs in the FSU to monitor human rights violations, antisemitism and other forms of xenophobia, and religious persecution. He visits Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other post-Soviet republics several times every year. Between 1996 and 2005, Dr. Stonov participated in several hearings before the U.S. Congress Commissions about human rights and antisemitism in the various states of the FSU. He regularly takes part in preparing annual reports on human rights and antisemitism in the FSU. He was one of the directors and managers of the UCSJ/MHG mutual human rights and xenophobia monitoring project in all 83 regions of Russia. He also organized the Coalition Against Hate, which has more than 55 participants in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Dr. Stonov has published several articles in the American mass media and more than 50 articles in Russian language US newspapers and magazines about human rights, antisemitism, and ethnic and religious persecution.
MEYLAKH SHEYKHET, Director of Ukraine Bureau, Lviv
Mr. Sheykhet has been a UCSJ activist since 1986, working to support the revival of Jewish self-identification. He has been UCSJ’s L’viv Bureau Director since 2000. He helps monitor antisemitism and xenophobia throughout Ukraine and works to preserve Jewish historical synagogues, cemeteries and items throughout Ukraine. He also is active with UCSJ’s Yad-Le-Yad (Hand-to-Hand) program for those in need. He has helped implement projects initiated by the U.S. Department of State’s American Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, including establishing the Faina Petriakova’s Center for Scientific Research and Preservation of the Jewish Cultural Heritage. Mr. Sheykhet regularly provides research for over 180 Jewish cemeteries and mass graves throughout Ukraine, Poland and Belarus.
Mr. Sheykhet has successfully run two candle lighting ceremonies at the Old Jewish cemetery of L’viv. These have included participants from the US, Israel and Ukraine, the Secretary of the US Embassy to Ukraine and numerous diplomats. He also runs a website for the Jewish Heritage of Ukraine.
Board of directors
Lawrence Lerner President firstname.lastname@example.org
Judy Patklin, UCSJ Vice-President, Director Action for Post Soviet Jewry email@example.com
Judy Patkin has been involved with the situation of Soviet Jews since the early 1970's; first through a committee assignment at Temple Isaiah in Lexington and later with Action for Soviet Jewry (ASJ) - now Action for Post-Soviet Jewry (APSJ). She is a founding member of ASJ, which incorporated as a private, non-profit organization in 1975, and worked there first as a volunteer and Board Member, later as co-president, and for the past 24 years as Executive Director. APSJ regularly ships medicine and clothing to Jewish communities unable to afford them. In her most recent trip to eastern Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania, where she works with pensioners, Holocaust survivors in an Adopt-a-Bubbe program, and Jewish Day School students. Many families she visited with there are now happily in the West. However, there are still many thousands living in the former Soviet Union who deserve our help.
Joel Sandberg, MD, UCSJ Vice-President, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joel Sandberg M.D. was one of the founders of the South Florida on Soviet Jewry (SFCSJ) and was its second chairman beginning in 1976. He headed the tourist briefing program and briefed hundreds of tourists form South Florida going to the Soviet Union, including congressmen, public officials and community leaders. Dr. Sandberg, an ophthalmologist and Voluntary Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Miami’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute directed the SFCSJ’s Doctors Group for Soviet Jews and was the Southeast Regional Coordinator of the national Medical Mobilization for Soviet Jewry. Dr. Sandberg has been on the board of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews for 30 years and served as Vice-President and on the executive committee. He was a spokesman for Soviet Jews on radio, television, and rallies community education programs and in newspapers’ letters to the Editor. In 1975 Joel and his wife Adele traveled to the outlying cities in the Soviet Union to visit Soviet Jews who rarely got to meet American activists. For many years, their home was a center of activity for Soviet Jewry. They were active in organizing protests and rallies, community and congressional education, campaigns for individual refusenik families and public relations for the cause. Their collections of papers on the Soviet Jewry movement are archived in the American Jewish Historical Society Center for Jewish History.
Anastasiia Aseeva Executive Director email@example.com Administration of non-profit organizations, affiliation with the Helsinki human rights movement and Civil Solidarity Platform, member of the Helsinki Task Force since 2007, 2002-2015 administrative director of the eldest Russian human rights NGO, Moscow Helsinki Group .
Nathan Hersh Nathan.firstname.lastname@example.org Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Nathan Hersh graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Boston, before making Aliyah to Israel, where he lived for almost five years. In Israel, he was drafted to the Israel Defense Forces before completing a graduate degree in conflict resolution and mediation from Tel Aviv University. Upon returning to the United States, Nathan began a position at the pro-peace, pro-Israel, social justice nonprofit, Partners for Progressive Israel, eventually becoming the organization’s managing director. He has published op-eds about Israel and issues pertinent to the US and global Jewish community in Israeli newspapers and sites including Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post and +972 Magazine, and in US newspapers including the New York Times and the Washington Post. He is currently pursuing his Doctor of Medicine degree from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.
Nathan Fisher email@example.com Nathan Fisher serves on UCSJ's board since 2018. Nathan is currently Manager, Public Policy at the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) where he works on grassroots campaigns, lobbying efforts, and manages the PAC. Previously, Nate served as Associate Director for UCSJ from 2014-2018 and held other positions at Merck & Co., the Household & Commercial Products Association, and on Capitol Hill. He graduated summa cum laude from the George Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and minored in International Affairs and Political Science. He has
Vladimir Epshteyn firstname.lastname@example.org
Vladimir Epshteyn holds a bachelor’s degree in electromechanical engineering from Leningrad Polytechnic University. Vladimir Immigrated to the United States in 1992 from Moldova, state of the former Soviet Union. Shortly thereafter, he became an active participant in Russian-speaking Jewish community life. From 1993 to 2011 Vladimir worked full time in the position of community organizer at the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty. In October 1994, he established the Metropolitan Russian-American Parents Association, a not- profit agency that has played an important role in the educational process of children and their parents. He is currently the president of this Association. In 1994 Vladimir was appointed to the board of directors of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC). For six years he remained the first Russian-speaking representative on this Board. In July 1998 Vladimir founded the Russian-American Voters Educational League, a non-partisan non-profit agency. From its inception, the agency has played an integral role in the political activation of Russian-speaking American citizens and community members. He is currently the president of the League.
From 2005 to 2014 Vladimir has served on board of directors of The New York Immigration Coalition and up to these days he has deeply involved in immigrants life movement. Vladimir Epshteyn has always been an active participant in all major events related to the life of the Russian-speaking immigrant community. Though retired, Vladimir is tireless continuous volunteer to his community.