Jewish History: Soviet Jewry
Jewish women participated in the artistic life of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union for over a hundred years. Jewish women artists worked in all styles, from the routine academic to the extreme avant-garde. There were also well-known art patrons, gallery owners, art historians, and art critics.
Raissa Berg worked was an eminent geneticist until Soviet Russian policies forced her out of her job. Nevertheless, she continued her research at home, eventually discovering “correlative Pleiades” in plants, and later contributed significantly to the reestablishment of the scientific field of genetics in Russia during her brief reinstatement. After emigrating to the United States, Berg remained active until her death in 2006.
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.
Zoya Cherkassky (b. 1976 in Kyiv, Ukraine) is a prominent Israeli artist. She works in a range of media and styles, synthesizing traditional painting techniques with vernacular tools and moving freely between allusions to the European canon and contemporary art. Her work is marked by humor, irony, and satire and at times has been controversial.
From the 1920s into the 1950s, the Communist Party USA was the most dynamic sector of the American left, and Jewish women—especially Yiddish-speaking immigrants and their American-born daughters—were a major force within the party and its affiliated organizations. Their numbers included community organizers, labor activists, students, artists and intellectuals. When the communist movement faded in the 1950s, these women carried radical traditions into new movements for social justice and international cooperation.
The statistics on Jewish marriage, divorce, fertility, emigration, and aging within the Soviet Union reveal new pockets of history and can shed light on the effects of historical events on Jewish lives.
The International Council of Jewish Women (ICJW) is a Jewish women's organization established at the beginning of the twentieth century, which evolved with the needs and events over time. As a women’s NGO, ICJW participates in a variety of projects promoting women’s rights and human rights, motivated by its roots in Judaism.
Kashariyot were young women who traveled on illegal missions for the Jewish resistance in German-occupied Eastern Europe during the Holocaust. They smuggled goods, news, and other Jews in and out of the ghettos of Poland, Lithuania, and parts of Russia. While those who fought the Germans within the ghettos are often most celebrated for their heroism, kashariyot were essential in the survival of Jews within ghettos.
As a member of the General Jewish Workers’ Bund, Helene Khatskels fought to realize socialist ideals about autonomy and liberation. As a Yiddish teacher and writer in Tsarist Russia and later the Soviet Union, she demonstrated a commitment to spreading and inspiring pride in Yiddish culture.
Lia Koenig is known as the First Lady of Israeli Yiddish Theater for her complex roles in world drama. After immigrating to Israel from Poland in 1961 with her husband Zevi Stolper, she began her legendary career at the Habimah theater. Koenig was awarded the Israel Prize, the Israel Theater Prize, and the EMET Prize.
Poet Feiga Izrailevna Kogan was born into the Moscow Jewish community in 1891. Throughout her life she composed books of and about Russian poetry while harboring a love of Hebrew. Some of her works include: Moia dusha (My Soul) and Plamennik (The Torch).
Rokhl Häring Korn is a major figure in modern Yiddish literature. She published eight volumes of poetry and two collections of fiction, much of which focused on themes of homelessness, the upheaval of war, and her experience during the Holocaust.
Hanna Krall is one of the most important Polish-Jewish writers and reporters. A Holocaust survivor, she portrays in her own extremely concise manner the vicissitudes of other survivors, rescuers, and perpetrators. Krall has been internationally recognized and her works have been translated into fourteen languages.
Isa Kremer (Belz, Bessarabia, 1887-Córdoba, Argentina, 1956) traveled the world performing art, folk, and classical music. She studied and sang opera in Italy but appeared as an art singer in Odessa, where she was the wife of Israel Heifetz, the editor of The Odessa News. Her great legacy is her Isa Kremer Sings Jewish Life in Song, a book and album of Jewish songs.
Mariana Kroutoiarskaia was a talented Russian composer and music producer who dedicated her entire life to music, film, and television. Kroutoiarskaia worked as a music editor for Russian television, a lecturer, and a composer for many films. She also supervised the arrangement and publication of music for children by various composers.
Research librarian and educator Nora Levin’s books sparked controversy among historians, but she helped shape popular understanding of modern Jewish history.