Honoring a Departed Heroine

We mourn the loss of Zionist heroine Tanya Gorlin

We are shocked and saddened to learn of the death of one of Boston’s most inspiring Jewish leaders: Tanya Gorlin.

Born in Kaunas in communist Lithuania on March 27, 1947, Tanya’s father, Piotr Lebedev, was an officer in the Soviet Army and her mother, Sofia Lebedeva, a musician. The family moved to Moscow in the 1950s, where Tanya received her bachelor’s in English and worked at the Center for U.S. and Canadian Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Desperate to emigrate to America, Tanya and her family spent eight years as “refuseniks.” Tanya participated in numerous illegal rallies and hunger strikes on behalf of Jews like her who wanted to leave the Soviet Empire — for which she was harassed and threatened by the KGB. Eventually, the communist government allowed her to leave.

Tanya Gorlin and her beloved husband Andrew at a rally for Israel on the Newton Center green — May 19, 2021.

She arrived in Lynn, Massachusetts, in 1987, together with her beloved husband Andrew, whom she married in 1978, and their then-three-year-old daughter Sophie. The family later settled in Brookline.

In her early years in America, Tanya worked as a language teacher, and as a social worker at Central Boston Elder Services.

In time, her commitment to Israel and passion for her people stirred her to become a leader of Boston’s Jewish community, especially amongst her fellow refuseniks. In her later life, she would become a near-constant, glowing face at rallies and galas celebrating Israel.

Tanya and Andrew on the occasion of their 40th wedding anniversary — September 8, 2018.

Tanya was a major supporter of Boston’s Russian Jewish Community Foundation, Friends of the IDF, and Christians and Jews United for Israel.

She was a tireless leader in APT and EWI’s multi-year war with the Newton School Committee, which insisted upon allowing anti-Israel materials in the local high schools. In order to combat such hateful curriculum, she co-founded the legal watchdog group Education without Indoctrination in 2018.

In her final months, though battling cancer, her blinding energy and zeal for Zionism pushed her to help organization a massive Jerusalem Day celebration in Brookline on June 2.

Survived by Andrew (her husband of nearly 46 years), her daughter Sophie, and her grandchildren (Winnie, Avi, and Naomi), she passed away peacefully on Friday, July 5.

Tanya was the unofficial empress of Boston’s Russian Jewish community.

A funeral service will be held at the Stanetsky Memorial Chaper at 1668 Beacon Street in Brookline on Tuesday, July 9, at 11:30 A.M.

The burial will be at 1:00 at the Olita Relief Society Cemetery at 776 Baker Street in Boston.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Tanya’s memory are to be made to the Tobin Bridge Chabad House.

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