The People of the Book inthe World of Books isaRussian bimonthly publication for serious readers with Jewish interests. Our English website includes only thesummaries of thepublished articles. Toaccess the complete text of them, please visit the Russian version of this website.


April 2000

This issue of the magazine includes:

• Jewish Libraries: Exhibition about Jewish Samizdat

Samizdat (literally—“self-publishing”) is the term for illegal publications that circulated in the Soviet Union from the beginning of the '60s through the end of the '80s. The Jewish samizdat played a very important role in the development of the independent national movement of Soviet Jewry that had absolutely no institutions of national culture or community life. Samizdat disappeared as a social phenomenon ten years ago, but it seems that in Russian society today there is a growing interest in old samizdat publications. Maybe this is a reflection of people's nostalgia about the past, maybe it is a result of general concern about problems of freedom of speech in the former USSR. One of the examples of this interest is an exhibition of Jewish samizdat of the '70s and '80s, organized by the library of the Moscow Association for Jewish Culture and Enlightenment (MEKPO). The author of the article expresses great appreciation to MEKPO for initiating such an exhibition, while at the same time criticizing the organizers for the significant conceptual mistakes in the exposition. He expresses the hope that this exhibition will mark the beginning of serious research and educational work on the history of Jewish samizdat and the independent Jewish movement in the USSR in general.

Review: First Issue of Diasporas Magazine

The Jewish diaspora is the main focus of the first issue of this new academic journal, published in Moscow. The issue includes several conceptual articles that try to give an exact definition of the term “diaspora” and analyze Jewish people as a basic model for any diaspora. A special section is devoted to the history of Jewish communities of Siberia and the Far East—Irkutsk, Birobidzhan, Kharbin, West Baikal. One article in the issue is in English—a detailed analysis of demographic changes among Jews in Russia during the last century.

Review: Jewish Life in “the Cradle of Bolshevik Revolution”

Those who are interested in the history of Jewish communities in Russia are familiar with Mikhail Beizer's book The Jews of St. Petersburg (Russian edition: Jerusalem, 1989; English edition: Philadelphia–New York: The Jewish Publication Society, 1989). A new book by the same author has just been published under the title The Jews of Leningrad. National Life and Sovietization, 1917–1939 (Moscow: Gesharim, 1999). The book covers the history of the Jewish minority in Petrograd/Leningrad through the periods of “war communism”, the New Economic Policy, the first “Five Year Plans”, and the mass purges of the 1930s. Beizer pays special attention to the stratum of the “organized Jewish public”, thanks to whose efforts Jewish life in the city was so rich and survived so long, in spite of the pressure exerted by the authorities.

Looking through Russian Literary Magazines: Novels and Articles of Jewish Interest

Jewish Calendar of Significant Dates: May–June 2000

Bibliography: 58 New Books