In their recent book Never Alone, Natan Sharansky and Gil Troy discuss the former’s experiences as a Soviet refusenik, as a member of the Knesset and the Israeli cabinet, and as head of the Jewish Agency. Here, in conversation with Abraham Socher, the two examine some of the book’s themes in light of both the upcoming holiday of Passover and the troubles of the present. Sharansky recalls celebrating his first seders with other Jewish dissidents, and later in solitary confinement in a KGB prison—where he had three pieces of dried bread for matzah, hot water for wine, salt for a bitter herb, and no text to read from. Yet he had the Haggadah’s declaration “This year we are slaves, next year we will be free men; this year we are here, next year in Jerusalem” to give him strength.
Moreover, says Sharansky, for him the real liberation had already arrived when he decided no longer to live in fear of the totalitarian regime—an experience he has shared with the Chinese dissident Jimmy Lai and the Russian dissident Alexei Navalny. It is also one, he and Troy note, to be emulated by American and European Jews afraid to express their admiration and affection for the state of Israel. (Audio, 59 minutes.)