Moscow Winter School on Jewish Studies

PHENOMENON OF SOVIET JEWS: FROM ETHNICITY TO IDENTITY

Winter School on Jewish Studies was held at the Planernoye Hotel near Moscow on January 29 - February 3, 2018 and was organized by the Sefer Center in cooperation with the International Center for University Education in Jewish Civilization, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with the support of the Genesis Philanthropy Group, the Israeli Cultural Center in Moscow , and also with the use of the grant of the President of the Russian Federation for the development of civil society, provided by the Foundation for Presidential Grants. 
88 students from Belarus, Germany, Israel, Latvia, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, France, as well as 20 teachers and organizers from Israel, Russia, Ukraine took part in the school.


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The school was dedicated to the issues of preservation and transformation of Soviet Jewry. Talented and popular Jews as individuals are well-known in the Soviet history. However, the Jewish people as a whole went through significant changes affecting their language, culture, religion, family relations and self-identification in general, especially considering losses during the war and the Holocaust.

The main goal of the School was to analyze this historical phenomenon in its totality, including socio-economic changes in the 1920s-1930s-early 1950s, the success of experimental Jewish theater, art and culture in the Yiddish language, the Jewish component in the Soviet literature and journalism, the educational and professional integration of Jews in the USSR, the migration processes of the 1960s-1990s, the contribution of the Jews to the development of the Soviet avant-garde, the changes in the religious tradition of the Soviet and post-Soviet Jewry. Particular attention was paid to the problem of the reformation of Jewish cultural heritage in Soviet and modern museum collections and mechanisms for the formation of historical memory of the Holocaust during the Soviet period and today.

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The School program was very intensive and included 9 mini-courses (each of which consisted of 5 lectures), divided into thematic blocks dedicated to the history of Soviet Jewry, its identities and ways of representation, and the culture of Soviet Jewry.

After the lectures, the students took part in one of the seminars: ethnographic (S. Amosova and M. Kaspina) or epigraphic (M. Vasiliev, B. Rashkovsky) sections of the SFIRA electronic database, or in a seminar on post-Soviet immigration studies in Israel and the West (L. Remenik). During the seminars on SFIRA the students got acquainted with the database design, learned the basic methods of working with its user and editorial interface, and applied new skills during practical classes.

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An important part of the cultural program was the demonstration of 3 films that sparked fruitful and deep discussion. Discussion of the film by L. Parfenov "Russian Jews. The third film "(2017, duration 126 min., the film was created with the support of the Genesis Philanthropy Group) lasted longer than the film itself. Also the films "Friends from France" (France, Canada, Russia, Germany, 2013) and "The Death of Stalin" (Great Britain, France, 2017) were shown and discussed.

V. Fedchenko presented a lecture and a concerts "Soviet Songs in Yiddish", both were appreciated by school participants. the culinary master class "Latkes and the Friendship of Peoples" (D.Vedenyapina, M.Kaspina), which was accompanied by a lecture based on the materials of field expeditions of the Center "Sefer", was also extremely interesting.

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