A Visit to the ‘Soviet Jerusalem’

Last fall, a small group of American Jewish tourists stood facing the statue of Yiddish writer Sholom Aleichem in Russia. Not unusual; there’s a statue of Sholom Aleichem in Kiev, Ukraine. However, this took place in Siberia, in an area once called “the Soviet Zion,” or “the first Jewish socialist (communist) city in the world,” or “Stalin’s answer to Zionism.”

Welcome to Birobidzhan – the capital of the “Jewish Autonomous Region” – 5,000 miles east of Moscow, 100 miles west of the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk, and very close to the northern border of China.

Entering the city, it takes only a second to realize that Yiddish was once the main language of this tidy, well-kept municipality of some 75,000 residents, of whom approximately 2,000 to 4,000 are Jewish.

Read More: @ crownheights.info

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