Where the Jews Aren't: The Sad and Absurd Story of Birobidzhan, Russia's Jewish Autonomous Region

Where the Jews Aren't: The Sad and Absurd Story of Birobidzhan, Russia's Jewish Autonomous Region

Masha Gessen / Jul 22, 2019

Where the Jews Aren t The Sad and Absurd Story of Birobidzhan Russia s Jewish Autonomous Region From the acclaimed author of The Man Without a Face the previously untold story of the Jews in twentieth century Russia that reveals the complex strange and heart wrenching truth behind the familia

  • Title: Where the Jews Aren't: The Sad and Absurd Story of Birobidzhan, Russia's Jewish Autonomous Region
  • Author: Masha Gessen
  • ISBN: 9780805242461
  • Page: 486
  • Format: Hardcover
  • From the acclaimed author of The Man Without a Face, the previously untold story of the Jews in twentieth century Russia that reveals the complex, strange, and heart wrenching truth behind the familiar narrative that begins with pogroms and ends with emigration In 1929, the Soviet government set aside a sparsely populated area in the Soviet Far East for settlement by JewFrom the acclaimed author of The Man Without a Face, the previously untold story of the Jews in twentieth century Russia that reveals the complex, strange, and heart wrenching truth behind the familiar narrative that begins with pogroms and ends with emigration In 1929, the Soviet government set aside a sparsely populated area in the Soviet Far East for settlement by Jews The place was called Birobidzhan.The idea of an autonomous Jewish region was championed by Jewish Communists, Yiddishists, and intellectuals, who envisioned a haven of post oppression Jewish culture By the mid 1930s tens of thousands of Soviet Jews, as well as about a thousand Jews from abroad, had moved there The state building ended quickly, in the late 1930s, with arrests and purges instigated by Stalin But after the Second World War, Birobidzhan received another influx of Jews those who had been dispossessed by the war In the late 1940s a second wave of arrests and imprisonments swept through the area, traumatizing Birobidzhan s Jews into silence and effectively shutting down most of the Jewish cultural enterprises that had been created Where the Jews Aren t is a haunting account of the dream of Birobidzhan and how it became the cracked and crooked mirror in which we can see the true story of the Jews in twentieth century Russia Part of the Jewish Encounters series

    Jews Jews Hebrew ISO Yehudim, Israeli pronunciation or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and a nation, originating from the Israelites and Hebrews of historical Israel and Judah. Who are the Jews The Holocaust History A People s and Jewish culture developed for , years in pre World War II Europe Jews of both Western and Eastern Europe created a culture of religious practice, arts and music, language principally Yiddish , and education It was an entire culture which the Nazis sought to make extinct. Where the Jews Aren t by Masha Gessen Penguin Random House Where the Jews Aren t is a haunting account of the dream of Birobidzhan and how it became the cracked and crooked mirror in which we can see the true story of the Jews in twentieth century Russia Part of the Jewish Encounters series From the Hardcover edition. SIGNAL Where did the Jews come from Why are the Why are the offspring of Abraham called Jews The Jews originate from the region of Mesopotamia modern day Iraq Originally, the Jewish people were called Israelites or sons of Israel, after the last Jewish Patriarch Jacob, who was also named Israel. Judaism Who Is a Jew It includes a lot of non Jews who are perceived as Jewish and the text is a bit flighty, but the do seem to do the research and you can probably figure out from whawt they say whether you would consider the person Jewish. Are the Jews God s chosen people Bibleinfo There are many Jewish Christians today Jews back to Israel Some seem to think that the Jews must go back to Israel and resume the ancient sacrifices This simply makes no sense because it was Jews Peter and John in Acts speaking to Jews, who proclaimed Jesus the Why Do People Hate The Jews simpletoremember Jews were expelled from England, France, Austria, Germany, Lithuania, Spain, Portugal, Bohemia, Moravia and seventy one other countries Historians have classified six explanations as to why people hate the Jews Economic We hate Jews because they possess too much wealth and power. The Holocaust HISTORY A large population of Jewish and non Jewish inmates worked in the labor camp there though only Jews were gassed, thousands of others died of starvation or disease. Jewish history Jews of Babylonia CE Many Jews migrated to Babylon in CE after the Bar Kokhba revolt and in the centuries after Babylonia, where some of the largest and most prominent Jewish cities and communities were established, became the center of Jewish life all the way up to the th century. Jews Are Not Descendants of Abraham Texe Marrs As Jews, the Khazars then left the European nations in and settled the fledgling, new nation of Israel The people of Israel are not the seed, nor the ancestors, of Abraham They call themselves Jews, but in fact, DNA science shows them to be Khazars They say they are Jew, but they are not.

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      Posted by:Masha Gessen
      Published :2018-09-18T04:20:33+00:00

    About "Masha Gessen"

      • Masha Gessen

        Masha Gessen born 1967 is a Russian journalist, translator, and nonfiction author.Born into an Ashkenazi Jewish family in Russia, in 1981 she moved with her family to the United States, returning in 1991 to Moscow, where she worked as a journalist She has since returned to the United States.She writes in both Russian and English, and has contributed to The New Republic, New Statesman, Granta and Slate Gessen is the Russian correspondent for US News World Report.


    764 Comments

    1. Bit of a rambling narrative around the settlement of Birobidzhan, a Jewish settlement promoted in the far eastern part of Siberia. Much of the book centers around the Yiddish-language writer David Bergelson, who was later shot during the late 1940s campaigns against 'rootless cosmopolitans' - a euphemism for Jewish people. I feel there is a lot missing in this account - why the Siberian far east in the first place? why the focus on Bergelson in particular? - but I most appreciated Gessen's autob [...]


    2. This story made little impression, as the ending was always inevitable and I couldn't help but wonder how people could delude themselves again, especially after the Holocaust. I suppose when you have post-traumatic stress and absolutely nowhere to go, hope is the only alternative.Gessen describes in detail the road taken by Jewish intellectuals of all political, theological and philosophical persuasions. In 1929, the began with enthusiasm to settle in the designated Jewish autonomous region of B [...]


    3. Gessen’s book is the easiest intro to the “worst best idea ever”: a homeland for the Jews—the Jewish Autonomous Region of Birobidzhan—in the Easternmost part of the Soviet Union. Jews could become farmers, live off the land, speak and create in Yiddish, and not be part of the reactionary nationalist project of Zionism. Tens of thousands of Jews from all over the world (including Depression-era USA) flocked to Stalin’s Zion. Problem was, the land lacked resources except for bad weathe [...]


    4. It could be hard to focus on this meandering book sometimes, but I'm glad I read it, and that I learned the history of this sad and absurd attempt at creating a Jewish autonomous region of the Soviet Union. The terrors and show trials of the USSR are always fascinating in their cruelty and injustice, but they seem especially poignant in the context of a people hounded to the ends of the earth, only to be further persecuted when they got there. I enjoyed Gessen's personal take on Birobidzhan more [...]


    5. I have actually been to Birobidjian (2000) for three weeks and had the opportunity to learn something about the Jewish Autonomous Region. All of the places mentioned by the author in the final chapter (she was there in 2009) were places my wife and I visited as well. So, it w as with personal interest that I picked up this slim volume. First of all, this is not really a history as would be written by a historian. It is more an elegy to the Jewish poets who bought into a vision of a place where Y [...]


    6. This was written very well, from my point of view as someone who enjoys nonfiction but usually can't read it because it's written so dryly. The tone comes through clearly and engagingly, like a TED talk on paper. However, a certain point was reached maybe halfway through where it started to veer more into the dry academic paper tone, and it seemed to me that it lost its direction and became, uncertainly, a kind of biography of David Bergelson. And I wasn't really interested in reading a kind of [...]


    7. A fascinating and highly readable history detailing one of the Jewish people's more bizarre misadventures. Gessen spends a bit too long on the convoluted intellectual, political, and personal histories of Birobidzhan's founders and champions and not quite long enough on the place itself. Still, it's a fascinating story; as is Gessen's own tale of emigration, with which she opens and closes the book.



    8. interesting story about a 'failed' experiment at the edge of the world. quick read and now I want to read more from this author.


    9. Extremely sad. A thorough history of the Jewish Autonomous Region and Birobidzhan. You learn of the figures who had dreams for a place to celebrate being Jewish, for being left alone. You learn all this with occasional intrusions from the narrator, Masha Gessen, herself, which provides context and bookends the whole story. So much sadness. So much destruction. So much loss. When you can tell the Shoah is coming, it's hard not to cry the whole time.I need to learn Yiddish.


    10. From my earliest recollection of Cold War-era school, I somehow acquired the notion that the Soviet Union was not really too bad for Jewish people. Gessen's book gives lie to that simple notion. The history is far more complicatedd far more tragic.


    11. This is a densely-packed, concise book that deserves your time. Masha Gessen is one of my favorite writers, and here she evokes the strange story of Birobidzhan.


    12. What a remarkable book. I was quite surprised, as it happens. I picked this up at the local public library on the new books shelf. I have read articles by Ms. Gessen in the New Yorker and perhaps elsewhere - I thought I read her book about Putin, but apparently I was confused on that point.Alas, I am once again not happy with a book's title. It is true (and exceptionally odd) that Biribidzhan today remains an autonomous region within Russia where the titular minority (within Russia) is in fact a [...]


    13. “Where the Jews aren’t” is Birobidzhan, a region in the far east of Russia, beyond Siberia and close to the Chinese border. After the Russian Revolution, this area was proposed as the site of an autonomous Jewish homeland within the Soviet Union. This very cold and swampy place was not well suited to settlement, and early efforts at farming and industrialization were not successful. Nonetheless, propaganda from the pen of Yiddish writer David Bergelson (1884-1952) lured waves of dispossess [...]


    14. Fascinating topic, but I don't think Gessen did it justice. She spent more time on one individual who helped promote Birobidzhan than on what life was like for the Jews who moved there. The chapter about the Stalinist purges in the late 1940s and early 1950s was horrific, and actually the prologue and epilogue in which the author talks about her own family's experience leaving Russia in the early 1980s had more energy than most of the chapters about Birobidzhan. The book made me want to learn mo [...]


    15. Everything I have read by Gessen has been written at the highest standard, and this is no different,Some criticize the content of the book as being dry, or impressionistic, derived from the writings of David Bergelson (d.1952) - All are true, but reflect how the Jewish Autonomous Region was the best worst idea ever. But her writing is what made the book "live" for me.As with so much of the Jewish experience in the Soviet Union, the constant sadness is pervasive.It is a quick read - under two hou [...]


    16. I have never been able to understand anti-Semitism. And it's everywhere in the world. Russia has been a particularly flagrant purveyor of such hatred. Here is the story of an effort to get all Russian Jews to live in one spot in eastern Russia. As always, Russia is just one heck of a depressing country. Have they ever had a Golden Age? A time of optimism and enlightenment?


    17. Russia (and former USSR) had some of the most complicated internal top-level subdivisions of any country ever -- 4 separate levels of provinces, based on level of autonomy. The Jewish Autonomous Region is the most unique, most independent, and weirdest. This book is the story of that region, but is pretty scattered and personal, rather rather than a really clear account of the region.


    18. Was looking for more out of this book about Birobidzhan itself, instead life in the region and its development didn't really feel like it was the focus of the story being told. If you're looking for a pure history of the region, this isn't the book.



    19. As much a history of Jewish nationalism and antisemitism in the Soviet Union as a study of Birobidzhan itself, Gessen provides enormous insight into Soviet territorialized nationality policies.


    20. An interesting account of the Soviet Union's failed attempt at creating a Jewish autonomous region, told through the narrative of several Yiddish writers.


    21. Not uninteresting, but reads like something she finished at 3 AM and put into Courier with 1.5 inch margins to hit the page minimum.





    22. Anybody who finds out about Birobidzhan, the USSR's attempt to create a Jewish state, the "Soviet Israel" is likely to be intrigued. And there's a lot of great stories in here that helped me understand the bloody disaster Birobidzhan was.Gessen hangs her story off the tale of Dovid Bergelson, a yiddish writer who at times spruiked for the Jewish Region and his life is a great frame for everything that happened to Soviet Jews between the 30s and the 60s.I really wish Gessen hadn't always referred [...]


    23. This book took a while to get going. The opening sections which were more about Zionism and the formation of modern Yiddish. When it gets to the actual formation of the Jewish Autonomous Region the book gets better.


    24. Holocaust rememberedI picked this book up as my way of acknowledging the Holocaust. Then I read that Trump did not mention the Jewish people in his statement. As it turns out this is exactly as Holocaust is acknowledged in Russia, without mentioning the Jews.


    25. This is such a hard book to review that I've put it off for a couple weeks since I finished it.If you are really into the topic of Soviet Jews, and it's very familiar to you, you're going to find lots of interesting material here. However, if you are more of a newcomer to the story of Jews under the Soviets in general and Birobidzhan in the specific, I think you will find this book somewhat frustrating.This is a rather short book, and much less of it is devoted to Birobidzhan than I expected. Ge [...]


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