Stalin's Forgotten Zion, October 2012

Our series of parent programs began with a fascinating talk by longtime shule Yiddish teacher Kolya Borodulin: “Stalin’s Forgotten Zion: Experiments with Yiddish Culture in Birobidzhan.”

The audience included many guests to our shule as well as members of our new teen group.

In a personal and passionate presentation, Kolya spoke about the history of Birobidzhan, capital of the Jewish Autonomous Region in Russia's Far East, which was established by Stalin in 1934.

Yiddish, along with Russian, was designated the official language of education, municipal affairs, and cultural expression. At the same time, Jewish religious observance was discouraged, and Jewish identity, over time, drastically diminished.

Kolya was born and grew up there, and shared his memories, rare video footage, and historic and contemporary photographs.