The Schmooze

Avital and Natan Sharansky At the Emma Lazarus Award

I first met Natan Sharansky in June 1988 at The American Booksellers Association (ABA) Convention in Anaheim, California. Released two years earlier from Soviet imprisonment, Sharansky was among a literary lineup that included Barry Goldwater, Ray Bradbury, Studs Terkel, and Shirley Temple Black. His autobiography, “Fear No Evil” was a sensation.

At a private reception hosted by his publisher Random House at which champagne flowed and guests munched on chocolate-covered fist-sized strawberries, Sharansky smiled bravely as he shook hands with gushing admirers.

Fast forward to an ebullient, joking Sharansky who acted as his wife Avital Sharanky’s Hebrew-to-English translator at the American Jewish Historical Society’s 2013 Emma Lazarus Statue of Liberty Award Ceremony at the Center for Jewish History on May 28. Dressed in a black beret, ivory satin blouse and ankle-length black skirt, she said: “This is the first time that my husband was my translator.” At the dais, looking up at her adoringly, he joked, “I know you better,” then corrected some of her comments.

“It’s 27 years since my husband’s release and I am asked where I got this strength?… From all the demonstrations, the children,” she said. After Elie Wiesel hung the medal around her neck, she told the audience: “It is you who deserve this medal.”

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Avital and Natan Sharansky At the Emma Lazarus Award

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