Alexander Smukler

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Alexander Smukler
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CitizenshipUnited States of America
EducationDegree in civil construction
Alma materMoscow University of Technology
OrganizationAgroterminal LTD, Century 21: Russia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine

Alexander Smukler is the chairman of the board of Agroterminal LTD and the chairman of the board of Century 21: Russia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine.[1][2] He is a former managing partner of Ariel Investment Group, which develops commercial enterprises and civil engineering projects in Russia.[3]

Smukler is a former refusenik who advocated for the rights of Jews in the former Soviet Union.[4] He left the Soviet Union in 1991 and moved to the United States, where he became a prominent member of the American Jewish community and continued his activism on behalf of Jews from the former Soviet Union.[5]

Smukler was elected president of National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry in 2008.[5]

Early life

The Smukler family's ancestry can be traced back for many generations in Russia.[6] The family history is the subject of a book called The Tsar’s Drummer: A Story of Courage and Resilience, published in 2019.[6] Smukler's mother was a doctor who worked in a space-related research program.[7]

Smukler began studying Hebrew in the late 1970s.[8] He completed undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Moscow University of Technology in civil construction.[9]

Activism in the soviet union

In the 1980s, Smukler participated in underground samizdat networks, expanding the variety of reading material available to Soviet Jews.[10] He applied for an exit visa in 1985.[8] He was refused permission to emigrate and forced to live on odd jobs.[11] Smukler supported his family by giving chess lessons.[6] He was a Hebrew student of Yuli Edelstein, a refusenik who later became speaker of the Israeli Knesset.[7]

In 1987, Smukler became the editor of The Information Bulletin on Issues of Repatriation and Jewish Culture and joined the organizational committee Mashka.[8][10] Mashka was a secret group of eight people who coordinated efforts to take care of prisoners of Zion, support the families of the prisoners, and teach Hebrew.[12]

In 1987, Smukler told The New York Times that the policies of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev gave some hope that the Soviet Union would become more democratic.[11]

In 1989, author Leon Uris visited Russia. Smukler presented Uris with an underground handmade copy of Uris' novel Exodus in Russian.[10] One witness at the meeting said that Smukler's gift brought Uris close to tears.[13]

Smukler was the founder of Vaad, the first independent Jewish movement in the Soviet Union.[14] Vaad was an umbrella organization of Jewish cultural groups.[15]

Smukler was the executive director of B’nai B’rith of the USSR and the Jewish Information Center of Moscow.[2][16]

He left the Soviet Union in 1991.[5] He told The Jewish Chronicle that year that there was no decrease in antisemitism in the Soviet Union and there were almost daily antisemitic demonstrations.[15]

Activism in the united states

In 2004, Smukler was elected as vice president of the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry (NCSEJ).[9] In 2008, he was elected president of the organization.[2]

Smukler is the president and founder of the American Foundation for Orphans Abroad.[2]

Personal life

Smukler lives in Montclair, New Jersey.[6] He is married and has three sons.[17]

Smukler is an art collector with a substantial collection of Russian-Jewish art.[6]


  1. "Overseas Private Investment Corporation Annual Report" (PDF). U.S. International Development Finance Corporation. 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Former Refusenik to Head Ncsj". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 2008-12-15. Retrieved 2020-07-15.
  3. "The 11th Annual Herzliya Conference" (PDF). Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. Taubman, Philip (1987-10-09). "Soviet Settlement For Jews Far Removed From Ethnic Life". South Florida Sun Sentinel. New York Times News Service. Retrieved 2020-07-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Former Refusenik to Head Ncsj". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 2008-12-15. Retrieved 2020-07-15.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Zighelboim, Selah Maya (2019-05-10). "'The Tsar's Drummer' Traces Anti-Semitism Across Generations Through Smukler Family History". Jewish Exponent. Retrieved 2020-07-15.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Annual Report" (PDF). NCSJ. 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Kosharovsky, Yuli (2017). Komaromi, Ann (ed.). We Are Jews Again: Jewish Activism in the Soviet Union. Translated by Hoffman, Stefani (First ed.). Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press. p. 368. ISBN 978-0-8156-5400-1. OCLC 980302662.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "NCSEJ". Retrieved 2020-07-15.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Komaromi, Ann (2017-06-22). "Exodus". Jewish Book Council. Retrieved 2020-07-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. 11.0 11.1 Barringer, Felicity; Times, Special To the New York (1987-12-06). "THE SUMMIT; For Soviet Jews, Emigration Poses a Divisive Issue". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-07-15.
  12. "Jewish Movement in the USSR (Part 3)". Voice of America. March 23, 2017. Retrieved 2020-07-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. Brodsky, Frank (April 5, 2016). "Letters to the Editor". B'nai B'rith International. Retrieved 2020-07-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. Schmemann, Serge (1993-12-16). "THE RUSSIAN VOTE; In Moscow, Zhirinovsky Is Remembered as Jewish Advocate". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-07-15.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "The Indiana Jewish Chronicle". Hoosier State Chronicles. April 3, 1991. p. 10. Retrieved 2020-07-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. Schmemann, Serge (1991-05-05). "Jews in Moscow Expect Flow of Emigrants to Israel to Pick Up Again". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  17. Wiener, Robert. "Partners plan outreach to Russian immigrants". Retrieved 2020-07-15.

External links

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