Title

Stalin's Forgotten Zion: Birobidzhan And The Making Of A Soviet Jewish Homeland: An Illustrated History, 1928-1996

Document Type

Book

Publication Date

1998

Published In

Stalin's Forgotten Zion: Birobidzhan And The Making Of A Soviet Jewish Homeland: An Illustrated History, 1928-1996

Abstract

In 1934 the Soviet government established the Jewish Autonomous Region in a sparsely populated area some five thousand miles east of Moscow. Located along the Sino-Soviet border, the Jewish Autonomous Region, popularly known as Birobidzhan, was designated as the national homeland of Soviet Jewry. The creation of Birobidzhan was part of the Kremlin's effort to establish an enclave where secular Jewish culture rooted in the Yiddish language and socialist beliefs could serve as an alternative to Palestine and resolve a variety of perceived problems besetting Soviet Jews. Birobidzhan still exists today, but despite its continued official status Jews represent only a small minority of the inhabitants of the region. Drawing on documents from archives in Moscow and Birobidzhan, as well as photograph collections never seen outside Birobidzhan, this book explores both the Kremlin's efforts to create a socialist Jewish homeland and the reasons for the failure of the Birobidzhan experiment. The story of the Soviet Zion sheds light on a host of important historical and contemporary issues regarding Jewish identity, community, and culture. The history of Birobidzhan provides an unusual point of entry both to the "Jewish question" in Russia and to an exploration of the fate of Soviet Jewry under Communist rule

Published By

University of California Press

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