In a previous post, I noted that elections had just been held in several Russian regions, including the Jewish Autonomous Region. I had no idea this relic of Stalin’s “nationalities policy” still existed. Of course, this oblast, formally established by Stalin in 1934, has never been either autonomous or Jewish in any meaningful sense.
In any event check out the official government website, with its faux Hebrew lettering, and the cheery announcement of the 70th anniversary in 2004. Surreal. There apparently remains a tiny, Yiddish-speaking, Jewish community there. Some day I have to see “L’Chayim, Comrade Stalin,” a film by Yale Strom (who also made “Carpati,” which so enriched our trip to Ukraine last year).
Komersant notes: “The Second World War, which brought so much grief and disaster to the entire Soviet Union, touched the Jewish people as well.” Touched, indeed.