Becoming Soviet Jews: The Bolshevik Experiment in Minsk

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Indiana University Press, Apr 29, 2013 - History - 292 pages
An “endlessly rewarding” contribution to the study of Jewish life in the Soviet Union: “Fascinating . . . nuanced and respectful of human limitations” (Slavic Review).
 
Minsk, the present capital of Belarus, was a heavily Jewish city in the decades between the world wars. Recasting our understanding of Soviet Jewish history, Becoming Soviet Jews demonstrates that pre-revolutionary forms of Jewish life in Minsk maintained continuity through the often violent social changes enforced by the communist project.
 
Using Minsk as a case study of the Sovietization of Jews in the former Pale of Settlement, Elissa Bemporad reveals the ways in which many Jews acculturated to Soviet society in the 1920s and 1930s while remaining committed to older patterns of Jewish identity, such as Yiddish culture and education, attachment to the traditions of the Jewish workers’ Bund, circumcision, and kosher slaughter. This pioneering study also illuminates the reshaping of gender relations on the Jewish street and explores Jewish everyday life and identity during the years of the Great Terror.
 
“Highly readable and brimming with novel facts and insights . . . [A] rich and engaging portrayal of a previously overlooked period and place.” —H-Judaic
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Historical Profile of an Eastern European Jewish City
13
Red Star on the Jewish Street
31
Entangled Loyalties The Bund the Evsektsiia and the Creation of a New Jewish Political Culture
51
Soviet Minsk The Capital of Yiddish
81
Behavior Unbecoming a Communist Jewish Religious Practice in a Soviet Capital
112
Housewives Mothers and Workers Roles and Representations of Jewish Women in Times of Revolution
145
Jewish Ordinary Life in the Midst of Extraordinary Purges 19341939
176
Conclusion
211
Notes
217
Selected Bibliography
253
Index
269
About the Author
277
Copyright

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About the author (2013)

Elissa Bemporad is Jerry and William Ungar Assistant Professor in East European Jewish History and the Holocaust at Queens College, City University of New York. She is editor (with Margherita Pascucci) of Conzeniana, a series in Yiddish literature and culture.

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