Jan 19, 2016

Pomegranates to Look Back on the Soviet Émigré Movement with Refusnik Marina Furman

With power, passion and purpose, the Pomegranates of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County have an exceptionally powerful, inspiring morning in store on Tuesday, February 16, 2016. Gathering at 9:30 a.m. in a beautiful private home in St. Andrews Country Club, these caring, generous women of all ages from throughout the community will hear a former Soviet Refusnik share her moving story of refusal and her dangerous journey to freedom and subsequent success.

Amid the warmth of their shared commitment, they’ll have a unique opportunity to hear from Marina Furman, whose Refusnik years included surviving a KGB murder attempt during the birth of her first child. Furman went on to make Aliyah to Israel, where she was in charge of resettlement for the Mayor of Ra’anana. She now works as Executive Regional Director at JNF in Philadelphia.

All women who contribute at the Pomegranate level to the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County’s 2016 Annual Campaign are invited. The couvert of $36 includes a great program, the best company and breakfast, with dietary laws observed. The Pomegranate distinction honors women who make an annual gift of $1,800-$4,999.

“Launched at our Federation just a few years ago, the Pomegranate giving level has taken off and is growing so fast,” said Joan Hauser, Women’s Philanthropy Vice Chair, Pomegranate, who is co-chairing the event with Stephanie Midler. “We’re looking forward to welcoming our newest Pomegranates into this special sisterhood at our event on February 16. These women have stepped up to join us in demonstrating a wonderful commitment to helping our Jewish family who need our help most.”

One of the seven fruits named in the Bible, the pomegranate is said to contain 613 seeds, one for each of the commandments found in the Torah. By wearing the signature Pomegranate pin, these caring, generous women are reminded of the Jewish lives improved, rescued and renewed through their efforts – and of the work that is yet to be done.

“The Pomegranates are a group of dynamic women whose dedication and generosity do so much,” said Co-Chair Stephanie Midler, who is also Pomegranate Liaison. “It has become a gathering place for women who care about the Jewish community, and who enjoy the companionship of women who share their values and their concerns for our people right here, in Israel and overseas.”

To RSVP, or more information about becoming part of the special Pomegranate sisterhood, please call 561.852.6058 or email francescaw@bocafed.org. Pomegranates are invited to RSVP at jewishboca.org/pomegranate.

Wells Fargo is the generous 2016 sponsor of the Federation’s Dorothy Seaman Department of Women’s Philanthropy.


Marina Furman was born and raised in Kiev, Ukraine. She became a Refusnik at the age of 18. During 10 years of her “refusal,” she went through a terrifying ordeal trying to convince the Soviet government to give her and thousands of Russian Jews the permission to immigrate to Israel.

In 1986, Marina married Lev Furman, one of the most prominent underground Hebrew teachers in Leningrad. In March of 1987, their first child Aliyah was born in spite of a KGB attempt to murder Marina during childbirth.

In 1988, the Furmans were finally given permission to make aliyah to Israel where Marina was in charge of resettlement for the Mayor of Ra’anana.

In 1994, the Furmans welcomed their second daughter Michal, the first sabra in the family.

In the summer of 1998, Mrs. Furman was appointed to the position of Executive Community Schlicha (Israel emissary) to the Jewish Community of Greater Philadelphia, thus becoming the first Russian-born Israel representative in the United States. Marina and her family were featured in the documentary, It’s a Mitzvah, and in the featured CNN.com article, Defying the KGB: How a Forgotten Movement Freed a People.

Marina now works as Executive Regional Director at JNF, based in Philadelphia.