Take these tickets I was saving for my self—and use them in good health! We squeezed our way inside, with Sasha paus ing every now and then to exchange excited greetings with friends. Looking around, I was struck by two things.
First, the crowd was young. I asked Sasha about this.
What to Do? Thoughts Evoked By the Census of Moscow
My second impression was of the festivity of the occa sion. The ordinary weekday Russian theater audience is not overly elegant. People are often quite casually dressed, yet here people seemed to be turned out in their finest. Some of the women and young ladies were wearing the Star of David on chains around their necks—something I had never encountered before in Russia. The theater was filled quickly and the anticipation in the air was almost palpable. The play itself was very near ly irrelevant The only thing that mattered to the audience was that it was in the Yiddish language and dealt with Jew ish life.
I could feel the audi ence anticipating familiar jokes and greeting them with bursts of delighted laughter and applause. A sign of nos talgia swept the crowd when the grandmother on the stage lit and blessed the Sabbath candles. A constant buzz of whispering accompanied the actors and I soon realized that many of the audience had to have the play trans lated for them. It was no wonder, for it is now more than 20 years since the last Yiddish school in the Soviet Union was closed down. More and more young people like Sasha, who have been brought up in an assimilationist, anti nationalist environment, are coming to believe that their identity can be established only on the basis of a normal and independent national life, and this leads them to the de cision that Israel is their real home.
Even among more freeely and traditionally religious Jewish communities such as those of Soviet Georgia, which have easier access to kosher slaughter for their meat and practice ritual circumcision without the harassment that often prevents it in European Russia, the desire for Jewish identification takes on a strong national coloration. Among those applying for exit visas from the Soviet Union have been the entire Jewish communities of some Georgian towns. Every one of them has applied to to Israel. I walked down a street in Tiflis with a young worker, a man of about 35 who had been part of a group telling me of their distress at not being able to teach their children the history and lit erature of the Jewish people.
We are working for the victory of Communism because Karl Marx taught us that once the whole world has the same social system there will be no more conflict.
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Every one of us is waiting for a chance! It is even more surprising to find this resurgence trans cending not only age and pro fession but political views as well. Many of those Jews who would like to join their rela tives in Israel have become bitterly and completely alien ated from everything Soviet and Communist.
There are, however, numer ous Jewish members of the Communist party who, while disavowing their regime's treatment of its Jewish popu lation and expressing the de sire to settle with relatives in Israel, still consider them selves Communists.
(Hapgood, Isabel Florence, 1850-1928)
A letter to the secretary of the Com munist party in Lithuania, de manding the right of emigra tion, was signed by a number of party members. Individual pleas to the Soviet authorities are often more poignant. Who's Who Of Russian Jewry. From the age of 13 worked and studied incessant ly and never hesitated to go wherever I was directed and to do whatever work I was assigned. As a Communist even though expelled from the party and as a human, I think it terrible that children should suffer so.
A member of the Communist party from until , he took an active part in sending peti tions and protests to the So viet Government right up to his death from cancer last Jan. Forty days before his death he made his final ap plication to go to Israel. De spite his doctor's certification that he had only a few weeks to live and his wife's willing ness to waive her right to go if only he would be granted his last wish, the application was refused.
The last of Abram Muchnik's protests was published in Israel three weeks after his death. Di rected to the U. These guarantee every person the right to leave any own.
The bookshops of the So viet Union afford some of the best opportunities to meet in teresting people of all sorts —including Jews. Now we get a few each year.
It's better than nothing. As I turned to leave him, we shook hands and I found myself with a tightly wadded piece of paper. Let people know!
These were no underground creations. They were poems which had been published legally in the Soviet Union and were now unavailable. How can it be that we have forgotten our own being and don't know what to say? Reflecting on the man in the bookshop, I could not help but feel that here I had en countered the essence of the tragedy of the Jews in the Soviet Union.
For those who want to maintain a pride and an identification in anything specifically Jewish, even once legitimate expression is driven underground by fear and the pressures of the surroundings.
In Soviet society, where the Government is the only em ployer and is the owner of the vast majority of the dwell ings fear of the loss of work, pension rights or housing is sufficient to stifle almost all protest — particularly among older people. B EYOND those people who conceal or restrict their Jew ishness out of fear are many others who consciously and in tentionally assimilate—avoids ing wherever possible the identification of Jewishness and wherever this is impos sible, taking no interest in making Jewish language, literature or history part of their lives.
For them it is enough that they survived the war, that Stalin is gone and that every year sees improvement in the standard of living. Others make this cynicism general, burying themselves in their careers. Among these you find a firm conviction that it is only the failures and those who have suffered set backs in life who want to leave for Israel. When you give them examples of promi nent, and successful people in various walks of life who want to emigrate to Israel the discussion is often shrugged off as being of little import ance.
The director entered the lab and announced that the visi tors would be there within half an hour. Goldstein—go home. Rabino vich — go home. Ivanov on your mother's side—go home. Despite the quickening campaign against Israel and Zionism, numerous Jews occupy prominent places in Russia's scientif ic and artistic life.
Stories of the barring of Jews from sensitive jobs since the Six Day War are common. Chapter VI. Chapter III. On Labor and Luxury. Translators Note. Chapter IV. Chapter V. Chapter XVII. Chapter XIX. Chapter XX. Chapter VII. Chapter VIII. Chapter IX. Chapter X.