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quincy
27-09-2017, 11:17
In front of Birobidzhan’s railway station, loudspeakers blast out Yiddish-language ballads while hundreds of schoolchildren in ersatz folk costumes dance circles around the menorah monument that dominates the square.

Across town, labourers are building a kosher restaurant, the city’s first. A two-storey building under construction next door will house a mikvah, the ritual pool in which religious Jews must bathe.

The Jewish renaissance in Birobidzhan is the latest chapter in the surreal tale of this would-be Siberian Zion, founded nearly a century ago.


Nestled on the border with China, seven timezones east of Moscow and a six-day journey away on the Trans-Siberian railway, the region was first settled en masse during the early 1930s as part of a plan to create a Soviet homeland for Jews during the rule of Joseph Stalin.

Its story since then has reflected the vicissitudes of Soviet and then modern Russian history. The population of the area, still officially called the Jewish Autonomous Region, is barely 1% Jewish, but the authorities are trying to cultivate the memory of Jewish customs and history among the residents and even hope to attract new Jewish migrants.

Eli Riss, Birobidzhan’s 27-year-old rabbi, said the local Jewish community currently numbered 3,000 at most, and only 30 were regulars at the synagogue. His parents emigrated to Israel when he was young but after religious schooling he returned to his birthplace as a rabbi.

“We are a long way from Israel here and a long way even from Moscow, where there are big Jewish communities,” he said. “My task is for people to understand what it means to be Jewish.”

When the area was officially established as the Jewish Autonomous Region in 1934, 14 years before the foundation of Israel, it was the first explicitly Jewish territory in modern times. By 1939, 18% of the population was Jewish and Birobidzhan had a Yiddish theatre and Yiddish newspaper. The work of the police department, courts and city administration was carried out at least partially in Yiddish.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/27/revival-of-a-soviet-zion-birobidzhan-celebrates-its-jewish-heritage

FatAndy
27-09-2017, 19:18
http://youtu.be/QARrPunY46o

quincy
27-09-2017, 21:47
The Jewish Autonomous Region in Russia shows the Soviet model at least respected all nationalities inside its borders (unlike many empires), and in the case of Jews provided them with a homeland

Benedikt
28-09-2017, 04:29
i wonder, would i want to live in peace and quiet there and prosper. and go once in my life to jerusalem.like the <moslems go to Mecca.
or would i want to live in more or less constant fear of bombing, having army and police on every corner. and , when of younger age, spend most of my younger years in the army. fighting for something that is unrealistic and never will be won.

a very clever jewish cleric told me, when we did kosher cooking, the -Arabs- are -stupid-. they ALL should agree not to fight Israel. And in 10 or 20 years there will be no more Israel as it is known know. because they have no external enemy, most probably American funding will also dwindle. and Israel will just fall to pieces, like the former Yugoslavia. The conservatives will want their part, the VERY conservatives, wer one can not even press an elevator button on Sabbath, will want to have theirs. And Israel will be somethign of many little provinces where they could not even agree on the most simple things...

Benedikt
28-09-2017, 04:30
i wonder, would i want to live in peace and quiet there and prosper. and go once in my life to jerusalem.like the <moslems go to Mecca.
or would i want to live in more or less constant fear of bombing, having army and police on every corner. and , when of younger age, spend most of my younger years in the army. fighting for something that is unrealistic and never will be won.

a very clever jewish cleric told me, when we did kosher cooking, the -Arabs- are -stupid-. they ALL should agree not to fight Israel. And in 10 or 20 years there will be no more Israel as it is known know. because they have no external enemy, most probably American funding will also dwindle. and Israel will just fall to pieces, like the former Yugoslavia. The conservatives will want their part, the VERY conservatives, wer one can not even press an elevator button on Sabbath, will want to have theirs. And Israel will be somethign of many little provinces where they could not even agree on the most simple things...

quincy
14-10-2017, 10:24
i wonder, would i want to live in peace and quiet there and prosper. and go once in my life to jerusalem.like the <moslems go to Mecca.
or would i want to live in more or less constant fear of bombing, having army and police on every corner. and , when of younger age, spend most of my younger years in the army. fighting for something that is unrealistic and never will be won.

a very clever jewish cleric told me, when we did kosher cooking, the -Arabs- are -stupid-. they ALL should agree not to fight Israel. And in 10 or 20 years there will be no more Israel as it is known know. because they have no external enemy, most probably American funding will also dwindle. and Israel will just fall to pieces, like the former Yugoslavia. The conservatives will want their part, the VERY conservatives, wer one can not even press an elevator button on Sabbath, will want to have theirs. And Israel will be somethign of many little provinces where they could not even agree on the most simple things...

For Jews it is probably useful to develop their second homeland in Russia (Birobidjan), where some of them can settle if in future Israel, half of it desert, is not able to support a growing population on its territory. In Biblical times Jews prospered most when they were part of the Roman empire

korotky
15-10-2017, 03:10
In Biblical times Jews prospered most when they were part of the Roman empire

As much as I know the historical science... They didn't.

Romans desecrated the main Jewish Temple by setting there statures of pagan gods.

It's famous story.

quincy
15-10-2017, 09:33
As much as I know the historical science... They didn't.

Romans desecrated the main Jewish Temple by setting there statures of pagan gods.

It's famous story.

You are correct but outside of that single historical event, the Roman empire provided Jews (and others) trading opportunities across the Mediterranean and into countries at the far corners of the Roman empire

quincy
06-11-2017, 13:45
At the gleaming central Jewish community complex, which includes a synagogue built five years ago, Oleg Oroshko, a 60-year-old construction worker who spent a decade in Israel, explains why he returned home. "Russia was a mess and we saw no future for our children so we left, but we were aliens there. This is our home."

Optimism here is fueled by booming agricultural and raw material exports to neighboring China. But the Jewish revival is still fragile.

Today, Yiddish is the language of instruction in only one of Birobidzhan's 14 public schools, though Jewish culture and literature are studied everywhere. Last September, two schools representing a quarter of the city's students introduced compulsory Yiddish classes for children aged 6 to 10.

Natalia Mohno, who isn't Jewish, runs the Menora Kindergarten. The school has both gentile and Jewish students, a symbol of tolerance in a country with a long history of anti-Semitism.

In the early days before Stalin turned on the community, Jews arrived from around the world to build their own version of a worker's paradise and share Yiddish, the now vanishing blend of Hebrew and German that uses Hebrew characters and was once spoken by millions of European Jews.

"This was the opposite of Babylon. When Babylon was destroyed everyone stopped understanding each other, here people arrived from 14 different countries and communicated with each other by speaking one language: Yiddish," says Yosef Brenner, a leading local historian.

According to Valery Gurevich, the region's vice-governor (he is Jewish, as is the governor), "Yiddish should be developed and should not be allowed to die, but it has to be done voluntarily. If you try to enforce a culture on others you may provoke internal protests. Now all is quiet; let's keep things that way."

Pictures showing Jewish holidays line the dark corridor walls of the two-story brick building. "Non-Jewish parents bring their children here because they consider all this part of them. We even have Chinese kids. Everyone is interested in Yiddish and Judaism," says Ms. Mohno, as groups of students noisily file down the corridor, a few stopping to say "shalom."
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2010/0607/Why-some-Jews-would-rather-live-in-Siberia-than-Israel