Birobidzhan: The Jewish "Homeland" at the edge of the USSR 

Thursday, October 13

USA 12:00 pm PT / 3:00 pm ET

UK 8:00 pm / France 09:00 pm / Israel 10:00 pm

The talk will last approximately 90 minutes

About this talk

In the early days of the Bolshevik revolution, the region of Birobidzhan, in the border between Russia and China, was chosen for Jewish resettlement and agricultural colonization. and designated officially as the "Jewish Autonomous District".

For some Communist Jews, Birobidzhan also constituted an ideological alternative to the Zionist idea. Its status as the Soviet Jewish homeland reached its peak in the mid-1930s when Yiddish schools, newspapers, theathers and libraries were established. However, the Stalinist purges delivered a severe blow to these developments.

Today there are about 3-4000 Jews in the entire region, barely 1% of the total population. There is a small revival with a Jewish festival and renewed interest in the Yiddish language. But this revival is limited to the local due to Birobidzhan's remote location and inaccessibility..

About Yale

Yale Strom is a professor in the Music San Diego State University. Prior to this he taught at New York University. Yale is also one of the world's leading ethnographer-artists of klezmer and Roma music and history. He has conducted extensive ethnographic research throughout Eastern Europe and the Balkans since 1981. He has made nine documentary films, written fourteen books, has had numerous photo-exhibitions throughout the world and with his band Yale Strom & Hot Pstromi has made fifteen recordings. They run the gamut from traditional klezmer to "new" Jewish jazz. His band is on the ARC-UK label. Strom has also composed for theater, film, radio, television, symphony orchestras and various artists such as Rachel Barton Pine, Sara Caswell, Salman Ahmad and many others. His latest documentary film is "American Socialist: The Life and Times of Eugene Victor Debs". His newest music recording is Yale Strom's Broken Consort: Shimmering Lights, and his latest audio drama ( is "Debs in Canton."

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With your contribution you will also be donating to YAAANA (The Yiddish Arts and Academics Association of North America).

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