Becoming Soviet Jews: The Bolshevik Experiment in Minsk
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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activists activities anti-Semitism arbet became Belorussian capital Belorussian Culture Belorussian SSR Belorussian State University Bolshevik bourgeois BSSR Bund Bund’s campaign century circumcision city’s Communist Party comrade conﬁrmed Evsektsiia factory ﬁeld ﬁgures ﬁle ﬁnancial ﬁrst former Bundists GAMO Hebrew Hirsh Lekert Ibid Iewish community Iewish cultural Iewish population Iewish schools Iewish street Iewish women Iewish workers Iewry Iews inﬂuence institutions JDC Archives Jewish section Jews Kiev Komsomol kosher kosher meat language leadership literary lived Minsk Iewish Moscow NARB Nemiga ofﬁcial ofthe Oktyabr organizations Pale of Settlement party cell party members People’s percent pogroms Poland Polish political pre-revolutionary purges Rabbi Red Army revolution revolutionary RGASPI role Rozin Russian shohtim shtetl shtetlekh social Socialist Soviet Iewish Soviet Iews Soviet society Soviet Union speciﬁc Stakhanovite synagogue theater tion tsarist University Press USSR Vaysrusland Veker Vilna yeshiva Yiddish-language Zhenotdel Zionist