The "Jews of Silence" - The "Jews of Hope" - The "Jews of Triumph": Revisiting methodological approaches to the study of the Jewish movement in the USSR

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Abstract

In December 2001, over 150 citizens of Russia, Israel, the U.S., Ukraine and some other countries gathered in Moscow in their capacity as former activists of the non-official Jewish movement in the USSR to celebrate the 25th anniversary of an event that had never taken place-an unofficial Moscow Symposium on Jewish Culture. The symposium, which had been forbidden by the KGB, acquired an important, but symbolic, meaning (as vivid evidence of the suppression of Jewish culture in the USSR) for the very fact of its non-performance. Celebrating this (non-)event 25 years later, members of the Jewish movement who had been active for some time in the period from the late 1960s to the late 1980s talked about their struggle against the Soviet regime, emphasizing the victory they had gained together with other dissenting groups. They called for the "political support of Israel, the United States, and Russia in their fight against international terrorism," spoke on behalf of repeal of the Jackson-Vannick amendment, voted for the establishment of a transnational association of Russian (or Russian-speaking or former Soviet) Jews, and even discussed the "historical mission of Russian Jewry." The issue of Jewish culture was virtually omitted from the discussion. The 2001 convention was emphatically called "From the Jews of Silence to the Jews of Triumph." Three discursive images were used by convention participants to denote positions within the domain: "Jews of silence" was cited to describe the state of affairs prior to the emergence of their movement, "Jews of hope" meant the dawn of their activities, whereas "Jews of triumph" indicated the result of their deeds. Participants behaved as members of a well-defined, highly perceptible and sealed group united (at least partly) by common enterprise in the past and common interests in the present.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-139
Number of pages21
JournalNationalities Papers
Volume33
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2005
Externally publishedYes

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