Iosif Begun was a mathematics and engineering teacher born in 1932 in Moscow who taught himself Hebrew and worked as a Hebrew teacher. He was first denied permission to emigrate in 1971 and was subsequently dismissed from his job as a researcher at the Moscow Central Research Institute. While working as a Hebrew teacher Begun was arrested in 1977 for parasitism, for "avoiding socially useful work and living on unearned income". He was exiled to Magadan in Siberia and following appeals and hunger strikes was recharged in 1983 for anti-Soviet agitation. His case received a lot of attention because of his role in building a grassroots Jewish culture in the Soviet Union and his attempts to have Hebrew recognized as a national language, protected under Soviet law. In 1988 Begun was released and granted permission to emigrate to Israel with his son Boris's family, his wife Inna and his mother-in-law, Dvoira Lazar.