A Hanukkah Letter from Moscow

Drawings from the title page of Masha's Hanukkah letter
Drawings from the title page of Masha's Hanukkah letter

In this immersive lesson plan, students will learn of the impossible situation thousands of Soviet-era Jews faced: being unable to practice Judaism, and being refused permission to leave their oppressive country. Masha, a young Jewish girl in the USSR, invites us to witness this phenomenon in Jewish history. We learn of the impossible situation Jews endured, and the Refuseniks, those Jews who were refused an exit visa, denying them both the freedom to express their Judaism and the opportunity to move somewhere that would grant them religious freedom. Despite their desperate position, Refusenik Jews endured, and passed down their unbreakable Jewish spirit to children like Masha.

This downloadable PDF lesson plan includes the following:

  • Masha's Hanukkah Letter
  • Background literature
  • Map of the former Soviet Union (labeled)
  • Discussion questions
  • Activities (including research, maps, writing prompts, and a word search)

This resource is part of The Lookstein Center's Refusenik Project. Learn more: https://www.refusenikproject.org



  • After School and Beyond
  • Congregational Learning
  • Day Schools and Yeshivas
  • Teen Engagement
  • Family Engagement