The Soviet Union granted exit permits to 8,155 Jews in 1987 and released from detention the last Jewish prisoner of conscience, according to a report released by the National Conference on Soviet Jewry.
The report said the 1987 total represented a substantial increase over the 914 Soviet Jews who were permitted to leave in 1986 but was still "far from the peak year of 1979, when 51,320 Jews were permitted to leave."
As examples of other positive developments in Soviet policy toward the Jewish population, the conference noted that Jews who were denied exit visas on secrecy grounds held a symposium in Moscow that was unobstructed by the KGB.
In addition, the first kosher takeout restaurant in the Soviet Union was opened in Moscow, the first officially sanctioned Hebrew courses were approved in Baku and the first unofficial Jewish library was permitted to be set up in the Moscow apartment of retired army officer Yuri Sokol.
In evaluating these and other developments of the last year, the conference said they may represent "a real modification of Soviet policy or may merely be a shift in tactics designed to diminish the sense of isolation and deprivation felt by Soviet Jews."
The organization said it is clear that the glasnost liberalization policy of the government "has not brought an end to restrictions on Jewish emigration and cultural movements, and that, at best, Soviet measures taken in 1987 serve to highlight the fundamental problems which Soviet Jews continue to face."