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Soviet Jewry

Esther Rachel Kaminska

In the first pages of her autobiography My Life, My Theater Ida Kaminska writes of her mother Esther Rachel, termed “the Jewish Eleonora Duse,” that she was educated by three forces: “the poverty she saw with her clever eyes, the suffering with which her great heart empathised, the injustice against which she was able to rebel. All became components of Esther Rachel Kaminska.”

Elena Kabischer-Jakerson

Elena Kabischer, a graphic artist, painter and sculptor was born on March 23, 1903 in Vitebsk into the family of a craftsman. In 1916 she started studying in the private School of Drawing and Painting managed by Yehuda Pen (1854–1937), the oldest of Vitebsk painters, among whose pupils were also Marc Chagall (1887–1985) and Eliezer Lisitsky (1890–1941).

Irina Jacobson

Irina Jacobson, a Soviet-Russian dancer, teacher and international authority on the staging of the major nineteenth- and twentieth-century Romantic and Classical ballets, is also the former director of Choreographic Miniatures, the St. Petersburg ballet company of her late husband, Leonid Jacobson, the leading iconoclastic Soviet ballet choreographer. A former soloist with the Kirov Ballet, Irina Jacobson was the last protégée of Agrippina Vaganova, the influential teacher at the State Academic Theatre for Opera and Ballet (GATOB, later the Kirov), the woman who systematized the teaching of ballet for the new era of Soviet ballet, and who recognized and inspired Irina Jacobson’s gifts as an exacting and inspired ballet pedagogue.

International Council of Jewish Women

The International Council of Jewish Women (ICJW) is an umbrella organization for forty-nine affiliates representing some two million women in forty-six countries. The head office rotates according to the place of residence of its current chairwoman, who is elected for a period of three years. Plans for future actions are decided on by a team of directors at international triennial conventions which take place in various countries. Each affiliate organization of the ICJW retains its own name and has its own projects. The ICJW is an entirely voluntary organization based on the good will of women motivated by their belief in the humanitarian duty rooted in in Judaism, in the vocation of the Jewish woman or mother, or simply in a sense of Jewish solidarity. Established in the early twentieth century and reconstituted immediately after World War II, ICJW never ceased its development throughout the vicissitudes of the past century.

Demography: Soviet Union, the Russian Federation and other Successor States

Marriage and Divorce. Before World War II the Jewish marriage pattern was rather favorable for fertility. In 1939 one half of the Jewish women aged 20–24 and more than 70 percent of those aged 25–44 in the Russian Federation were currently married. However, in 1959, the percentage of currently married Jewish females below the age of 25 was much lower than it had been in pre-war 1939 (Table 1). This may be seen as an indirect indicator of the rise in age at first marriage between the two censuses, for which we have no direct data.

Contemporary Jewish Migrations to the United States

In the largest Jewish immigrant wave since the 1920s, nearly three hundred thousand Soviet Jews settled in the United States after 1970. More than two-thirds of all Jewish immigrants to the United States since 1980 have been from the (former) Soviet Union. Women, who comprised fifty-three percent of those who arrived during the wave’s peak, between 1970 and the 1990s, came to the United States with an unusually high degree of professional and technical skills. In contrast to the 16.5 percent of American women who worked as engineers, technicians, or other professionals, over two-thirds of Soviet Jewish émigré women had worked in these occupations prior to their arrival. As is consistent with their occupational status, these Soviet Jewish women immigrants were also highly educated. Their average number of years of schooling was 14.2. Despite their high degree of educational and occupational attainment, women’s salaries in the USSR were only fifty-seven percent of those of men.

Communism in the United States

In the forty years following the Russian Revolution of October 1917, communism was the most dynamic force in American left-wing politics and a primary mobilizer of radical Jewish women. At the center of this movement lay the American Communist Party, which grew out of various radical factions inspired by the October Revolution. In December 1921, most of these groups came together as the Workers Party, renamed the Communist Party USA (CP) in 1930.

Canada: From Outlaw to Supreme Court Justice, 1738-2005

The positive aspect of the Canadian mosaic has been a strong Jewish community (and other communities) which nurtured traditional ethnic and religious values and benefited from the talent and energy of women and men restrained from participation in the broader society. The negative aspect has included considerable antisemitism and, especially for women, the sometimes stifling narrowness and conservatism of the community which inhibited creative and exceptional people from charting their own individual paths.

Raissa L’vovna Berg

Raissa Berg is an outstanding biologist and geneticist of international repute, a defender of human rights in the Soviet Union, an abstract painter and a writer.

Artists: Russia and the Soviet Union

Women in general and Jewish women in particular have been participating in the artistic life of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union for over a hundred years.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Soviet Jewry." (Viewed on September 2, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/soviet-jewry>.

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