The Latvian native served as an ardent and vociferous warrior in the battle to gain freedom for Soviet Jews during the movement’s heyday in the 1970s.
Jules Lippert, an ardent and vociferous warrior in the battle to gain freedom for Soviet Jews during the movement’s heyday in the 1970s, died Dec. 24.
The successful prefabricated-home executive and, with his wife, Louise — whom he met as a senior at Penn State — an antiques dealer, was 83.
A Latvian native who was on a family visit to New York when World War II erupted, Lippert wound up extending his visit to a lifetime stay, settling at first in Brooklyn and then here.
But it was his family’s tragic association with the Holocaust — he lost many close relatives, including his father and grandparents — that sparked his mission to save Jews shackled to a life of anti-Semitism and limited freedom, in his role as co-chair of the Soviet Jewry Council of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia.
“To Jules, the Soviet Jewry movement wasn’t simply a movement but a personal mission,” recalls Burt Siegal, executive director of JCRC at the time.
“I recall his talking about the fact that if it wasn’t for good fortune or divine intervention, he probably wouldn’t have survived the Nazi invasion of his native Latvia. And, if he had, it could have been his picture on one of the posters demanding freedom for Jews trapped behind the Iron Curtain.”
For the émigré with an intense belief in freedom and solidarity with those denied it, “the refuseniks were his brothers and sisters.”
Indeed, agrees Lippert’s wife, it was because of the Holocaust — and the decimation of his family — that he got involved with the movement.
That involvement included several trips by the two of them to the USSR to visit refuseniks and bring them sustenance — in both materialistic and emotional terms.
Their commitment extended to petitioning American leaders to put the pressure on Soviet officials to let the Soviet Jews go.
With the Soviets ultimately loosening the reins, both Jules and Louise Lippert were able to see the end results of their actions.
“We often visited the former refuseniks in Israel,” she recalls, trips that offered “a special gratification and satisfaction” for Jules and his wife.
He is also survived by two daughters, Susan Crystal and Joanne; a son, James; two brothers, Richard Drucker and Walter Drucker; and seven grandchildren.