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Building Zion in Stalin’s Russia
Building Zion in Stalin’s RussiaSunday, November 15, 2015 - 2:00 pm
In 1934, a Jewish autonomous region was established in Birobidzhan (sometimes spelled Biro-Bidjan), Siberia. This Jewish region was put in place as part of a Soviet policy that encouraged ethnic groups to contribute to the building of socialism by settling their own territory (or oblast) with their own language and culture. Yiddish was declared the official language of the Jewish Oblast and a proletariat secular culture was bolstered.
Dr. Jeffrey Veidlinger offered an exploration of Birobidzhan as well as other potential homelands proposed in the Soviet Union. The talk explained why Stalin sought to establish a Jewish homeland near the Chinese border, and how the project fit into Stalin’s larger policies toward Soviet Jews. He also discussed how the establishment of the State of Israel complicated the purported role of Birobidzhan as a Jewish homeland.
Jeffrey Veidlinger is the Joseph Brodsky Collegiate Professor of History and Judaic Studies and Director of the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. Veidlinger is the author of a number of award-winning books including,The Moscow State Yiddish Theater: Jewish Culture on the Soviet Stage, Jewish Public Culture in the Late Russian Empire, and most recently, In the Shadow of the Shtetl: Small-Town Jewish Life in Soviet Ukraine.