Ida Nudel
Ida Nudel. (Photo Credit: Nati Harnik/Wikimedia Commons)

Ida Nudel was a Prisoner of Zion who made aliyah with her faithful collie, Pizer, in 1987 after winning her battle against the gigantic Soviet Union.

Ida Nudel, the diminutive Prisoner of Zion who made aliyah after winning her battle against the Soviet Union, died on Sept. 14, 2021, at age 90. 

Known as the “Guardian Angel” for the campaign she led to provide humanitarian items for Prisoners of Zion in Soviet jails, Nudel — who was just 4’11” tall — was the best-known female refusenik.

She famously won the support of actress Jane Fonda, who visited her during her four years of exile in Siberia, and Liv Ullmann, who played her in a film based on her autobiography.

Calling her “a symbol of the struggle for aliyah from the Soviet Union,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said, “Ida Nudel was an exemplar of Jewish heroism for us all.”

Born in 1931 in the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk, Nudel was refused an exit visa by the Soviet authorities on the grounds that she was privy to state secrets in her job as an accountant for the Moscow Institute of Hydrology and Microbiological Synthesis. 

For 16 years, she worked on behalf of imprisoned Soviet Jews, sending them gifts, smuggling vitamins into their prisons, submitting court appeal applications and offering their families support.

She organized a hunger strike to protest the arrest of another refusenik, Vladimir Markman. She lost her job, and after placing a protest poster in 1978 in her apartment which read, “KGB, Give Me My Visa,” was banished to Siberia for four years. After being released in 1982, she was banned from returning to Moscow, suffering hardships in the Moldavian town of Bendery for five years.

Nudel received a hero’s welcome in Israel on Oct. 15, 1987. Holding her new Israeli ID card close to her heart and wiping away tears, she declared: “The moment came. I am on the soil of my people: at home.” 

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