His arrest aroused an international outcry. Author, Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel wrote about Kira's dad in The New York Times.
He worked in a plant making 70-pound stone blocks and, after an accident, sewed covers for tree trunks to be used during Siberian winters. Kira and her mother were able to see him only once, for four hours, during that time. They flew 11 hours each way for that chance.
His hands were ruined, she remembered, and "he was half of himself."
Kira's parents encouraged her to apply for a visa on her own when she was 19. She was granted one almost immediately in late 1987 and arrived in Israel four days after the rally in Washington. Her parents got visas two weeks later and joined her. She doesn't know whether the rally helped gain their release, but she suspects it did.
Now 44, Kira lives in Jerusalem with her husband and their three children; she works as a Web developer and designer. Her father teaches physics and math in a yeshiva. To this day, he still cannot make fists with his hands.
The path to freedom
As the Furmans approached their certain arrest that December morning in Leningrad's Palace Square a little more than 25 years ago, they weren't afraid. Lev, who'd found solace in his religion in a land where being religious was nearly impossible, believed God had put them on this path and would protect them.
Marina had learned long ago not to think about worst-case scenarios. In all their years of trying to secure visas to leave the Soviet Union -- 10 years for Marina, 14 for Lev -- they could have been sent to Siberia or "accidentally" run over by cars, simply forgotten. She'd survived an attempt on her life when her daughter was born. Little could rattle her now. She also felt like she didn't have a choice.
"I couldn't imagine my daughter having the same life I had," she said.
After the police and KGB tried to scare them by pretending to dump Aliyah from her carriage, the Furmans were shoved into a bus, taken to a local prison and interrogated.
"Who helped you prepare for the protest? Are you working for the Zionist lobby? Why do you say these horrible things about our country? Do you think your American friends will get you out of prison? Do you think they care? What are you planning to do next?"
The Furmans had played this game so many times before. Now, with hundreds of thousands descending on Washington for the rally, they played it once more.
Lev didn't say a word, the approach he'd always taken. Marina gave short answers. "No one helped us. We are not connected to anyone. We just want to live in Israel." That last sentence she'd say repeatedly, whenever they kept pushing: "We just want to live in Israel."
They were then put in separate cells. Even 9-month-old Aliyah was alone in a cell for several hours before being returned to her mother.
When asked whether Aliyah cried during all of this, Marina said, "She did better. We put her on the table in the interrogation room, and she threw up on their papers."
Marina and Aliyah were let go after five hours. Lev was detained for 10 days.
He got out the first day of Hanukkah that year, and on the last day of the eight-day Jewish festival, the Furmans were finally granted visas to leave the Soviet Union. Marina's mother came to Leningrad from Tbilisi to leave with them, as did Lev's father.
Marina has no doubt that the rally in Washington, and to some degree her own family's protest in Leningrad, forced the Soviet government to finally let her family go.
"It wouldn't have happened without that rally, or it would have happened much later," she said. "The D.C. rally showed Gorbachev how powerful the Soviet Jewry movement really was and that for the American people, it was a human rights issue and not just a Jewish issue.
"I don't think he had the courage to start the reforms, and when he found out about the rally, it really changed him."