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The Moscow State Yiddish Theater: Jewish Culture on the Soviet Stage

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This is the first book in English to trace the fascinating and tragic history of the Moscow State Yiddish Theater, founded in 1919 and liquidated by the Soviet government in 1949. Since the conventional view of the fate of Jews in Soviet Russia is that from the beginning, the Soviet state pursued policies aimed at stamping out Jewish culture, it is surprising to learn that from the 1920s through World War II, secular Yiddish culture was actively promoted and Yiddish cultural institutions thrived, supported by the...
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Overview

This is the first book in English to trace the fascinating and tragic history of the Moscow State Yiddish Theater, founded in 1919 and liquidated by the Soviet government in 1949. Since the conventional view of the fate of Jews in Soviet Russia is that from the beginning, the Soviet state pursued policies aimed at stamping out Jewish culture, it is surprising to learn that from the 1920s through World War II, secular Yiddish culture was actively promoted and Yiddish cultural institutions thrived, supported by the Soviet government, albeit for its own propaganda purposes. Drawing from newly available archives, Jeffrey Veidlinger uses the dramatic story of the Moscow State Yiddish Theater, the premiere secular Jewish cultural institution of the Soviet era, to demonstrate how Jewish writers and artists were able to promote Jewish national culture within the confines of Soviet nationality policies. He shows how a stellar group of artists, writers, choreographers, directors, and actors led by Solomon Mikhoels brought to life shtetl fables, biblical heroes, Israelite lore, exilic laments, and dilemmas of contemporary life under the guise of conventional socialist realism before the theater and many of its principal figures fell victim to Stalinist antisemitism and xenophobia after World War II. Enriched by rare photographs of the theater's artists and performances, The Moscow State Yiddish Theater brings to life a complex period in the history and culture of Soviet Jewry.

About the Author:

Jeffrey Veidlinger is Assistant Professor of History and Jewish Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington.

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Editorial Reviews

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Indiana University Press

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Meet the Author

Jeffrey Veidlinger is Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Associate Director of the Borns Jewish Studies Program at Indiana University.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
A Note on Transliteration and Translation
Introduction: Soviet Jewish Culture or Soviet Culture in Yiddish?
1. "Let's Perform a Miracle": The Creation of the Moscow State Yiddish Theater
2. Comrades from the Center: State, Party, and Stage
3. Wandering Stars: Tour and Reconstruction
4. The Court Is in Session: Judgment Postponed
5. Where Are the Maccabees?: The Heroic Past
6. One Generation Passes Away: The Great Terror
7. Brother Jews: Mikhoels and the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee
8. Our People Live: The Yiddish Theater during World War II
9. This Is a Bad Omen: The Last Act
Conclusion: The Moscow State Yiddish Theater
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Indiana University Press

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