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Yiddish and the Creation of Soviet Jewish Culture: 1918-1930

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0521826303
ISBN-10: 0521826306
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Editorial Reviews


"...enlightening and...enjoyable." American Historical Review

"...an important contribution...moves beyond many of the stereotypically conventional ways historians have portrayed Soviet Jewish intellectuals in the past...well-documented study." Mark L. von Hagen, Columbia University

"Shneer's masterful account of Soviet nationalities policy and Yiddish language politics sets the stage for his discussion of how activists like Esther Frumkina, Moshe Litvakov, and Semen Dimanshteyn promoted Yiddish as Soviet policy." Russian Review, Sean Martin, Cleveland, Ohio

"[an] astute and comprehensive study" Journal of Modern History Abraham Brumberg, Chevy Chase, Marlyand

"This book is a welcome addition to the literature on Jews in eastern Europe. It will appeal to readers in the fields of Russian, Jewish and cultural studies. It could also interest people delving into the cultural aspects of the Jewish past." - Allan Laine Kagedan, Carleton University

Book Description

Yiddish and the Creation of Soviet Jewish Culture gives voice to the Soviet Jewish activists empowered by the state to create a Soviet Jewish national culture. Jewish activists were interested in building a Soviet Jewish culture because they were striving for a national revolution -- the creation of a new culture through which Jews would identify as Jews on new, secular, Soviet terms. This book explores the ways in which Jews were part of, not apart from, the Soviet system and Jewish history.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (February 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521826306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521826303
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,775,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover

Two recent books, "Yiddish and the Creation of Soviet Jewish Culture: 1918-1930" and "In Harness: Yiddish Writers Romance With Communism" by David Sneer and Gennady Estraikh respectively, make clear the extremely important role that the Yiddish language played in the heavily Jewish dominated Soviet Union of the 1920's and mid-1930's. The old Czarist Empire succeeded by the Bolsheviks was multi-national in character. According to Communist doctrine, each of these national groups, Ukrainians, Jews, Russians, Belorussians or "White Russians", etc. was to be considered a distinct nation within a union of federated socialist republics, defined primarily by its language. Yiddish was the preferred language of Soviet Jewry because it was the language of the Jewish working masses. Hebrew, the ancient language of the Jews and the revived language of the Zionists, was deliberately suppressed in the Soviet state. Synagogues and other Jewish institutions using Hebrew as a language of discourse or instruction were shut down. However, a vast publishing industry of newspapers, journals, poetry and novellas published in Yiddish began to flourish in Soviet Russia beginning around 1925, following Lenin's "New Economic Policy" (NEP) and the the end of the chaos of the Civil War.

David Shneer is quite candid about the milieu in which all this took place. In setting the context of the Yiddish Revolution in Red Russia, he writes:

"Jews were also different because they were overrepresented in the Soviet professions, in Soviet cities, in the Soviet bureaucracy, in the Russian-language intelligentsia, and in the Communist Party until and even after World War Two.
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