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"Forward" about SEFER Center's collection “Jews of Borderlands: Smolensk Region”
This article originally appeared in the Yiddish Forverts.
The new collection “Jews of Borderlands: Smolensk Region,” edited by Svetlana Amosova, contains historical and ethnographic research about Jewish life in Smolensk and its surrounding towns, which include Lubavitch, Krasne and Roslav. When part of Lithuania, Smolensk lay on the eastern border of what the Jews called Medinas Raysn, or the province of Belarus. As Dr. Vladimir Levin explains in his introduction to “Jews of Borderlands”, Medinas Raysn occupied a large portion of today’s East Belarus and a smaller part of West Russia. In contrast to Lithuania proper, there weren’t any big yeshivas or famous rabbis there, and the Yiddish spoken by inahbitants was mixed with Russian. Belarus entered the Russian empire earlier than other regions of Lithuania and Poland, which is why the Jews there were more engrossed in Russian life, culture and even politics. Some Jews from Smolensk who converted to Christianity played prominent roles in the court of Peter I.
Read the full article by Mikhail Krutikov