19 2023

The Making and Unmaking of "Russian" Jewry

“Russian” Jewish identity as we know it today is relatively new, primarily a consequence of the tumultuous twentieth century. It has been challenged and recast since the end of the Soviet Union and, more recently, by the current war between Russia and Ukraine. How are we now revising our understanding of the creation and evolution of Russian-speaking and Soviet Jewish identities? How do the cataclysms affecting Jews in the twentieth century, including pogroms and the Holocaust, continue to reverberate in the contemporary political and social spheres? What insights does the past offer us for the present day?

We look forward to an informative and exciting discussion among our panelists:

Jeffrey Veidlinger
"Ukrainian Jewish Identity in War and Violence: A History."

Jeffrey Veidlinger is Joseph Brodsky Collegiate Professor of History and Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. He is the author of the award-winning books In the Midst of Civilized Europe: The Ukrainian Pogroms of 1918-1921 and the Onset of the Holocaust (2021), The Moscow State Yiddish Theater: Jewish Culture on the Soviet Stage (2000), Jewish Public Culture in the Late Russian Empire (2009), and In the Shadow of the Shtetl: Small-Town Jewish Life in Soviet Ukraine (2013). Veidlinger is also editor of Going to the People: Jews and Ethnographic Impulse (2016), Associate Chair of the Academic Advisory Council of the Center for Jewish History, a member of the Academic Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, a member of the Executive Committee of the American Academy for Jewish Research, and a former Vice-President of the Association for Jewish Studies.

Sasha Senderovich
"How the Soviet Jew Was Made"

Sasha Senderovich is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures and the Jackson School of International Studies, and a faculty affiliate at the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle. He edited and wrote the introduction for the translation, from the Yiddish, of Moyshe Kulbak's novel The Zelmenyaners (Yale University Press, 2013). Together with Harriet Murav, he translated, from the Yiddish, David Bergelson's novel Judgment (Northwestern University Press, 2017). Together with Harriet Murav, he is currently working on In the Shadow of the Holocaust: Short Fiction by Jewish Writers from the Soviet Union, a collection of stories by authors translated from both Yiddish and Russian. His first monograph, How the Soviet Jew Was Made (2022), focuses on contemporary Soviet-born emigre Jewish authors in America. He has also published essays on literary, cultural, and political topics in the Los Angeles Review of Books, The New York Times, The Forward, Lilith, Jewish Currents, The Stranger, and The New Republic; these writings are available on his website,

Anna Shternshis
Why Are Russian Jews the Way They Are?

Anna Shternshis is the Al and Malka Green Professor of Yiddish studies and director of the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. She received her doctoral degree (DPhil) from Oxford University in 2001. Shternshis is the author of Soviet and Kosher: Jewish Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1923 - 1939 (2006) and When Sonia Met Boris: An Oral History of Jewish Life under Stalin (2017). Together with artist Psoy Korolenko, Shternshis created and directed the Grammy-nominated Yiddish Glory project, an initiative that brought back to life forgotten Yiddish music written during the Holocaust in the Soviet Union. A recipient of 2020 Guggenheim Fellowship, she is currently working on a book tentatively entitled Last Yiddish Heroes: A Lost and Found Archive of the Holocaust in the Soviet Union about Yiddish music created in Nazi-occupied Ukraine.


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