Soviet and Kosher: Jewish Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939

Soviet and Kosher: Jewish Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939

by Anna Shternshis


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Kosher pork—an oxymoron? Anna Shternshis’s fascinating study traces the creation of a Soviet Jewish identity that disassociated Jewishness from Judaism. The cultural transformation of Soviet Jews between 1917 and 1941 was one of the most ambitious experiments in social engineering of the past century. During this period, Russian Jews went from relative isolation to being highly integrated into the new Soviet culture and society, while retaining a strong ethnic and cultural identity. This identity took shape during the 1920s and 1930s, when the government attempted to create a new Jewish culture, "national in form" and "socialist in content." Soviet and Kosher is the first study of key Yiddish documents that brought these Soviet messages to Jews, notably the "Red Haggadah," a Soviet parody of the traditional Passover manual; songs about Lenin and Stalin; scripts from regional theaters; Socialist Realist fiction; and magazines for children and adults. More than 200 interviews conducted by the author in Russia, Germany, and the United States testify to the reception of these cultural products and provide a unique portrait of the cultural life of the average Soviet Jew.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780253218414
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Publication date: 05/01/2006
Pages: 280
Sales rank: 1,004,156
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.81(d)

About the Author

Anna Shternshis is Assistant Professor of Yiddish and Director of the Al and Malka Green Yiddish Studies Program at the University of Toronto.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Sara F.'s Kosher Pork
Note on Transliteration

1. Antireligious Propaganda and the Transformation of Jewish Institutions and Traditions
2. From Illiteracy to Worker Correspondents: Soviet Yiddish Amateur Writing
3. Amateur Local Yiddish Theaters
4. Soviet Yiddish Songs as a Mirror of Jewish Identity
5. Soviet in Form, National in Content: Russian Jewish Popular Culture


What People are Saying About This

Scott Ury

"Shternshis takes the reader far beyond the cold war politicalization and American Jewish and/or Israeli Jewish romanticization of "Soviet Jewry" as "the Jews of Silence," and deep into the personal accommodations and transformations of those individuals who saw themselves as being both Soviet and kosher."--(Scott Ury, Faculty of Humanities, Tel Aviv University)

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