How the Soviet Jew Was Made

In his new book, How the Soviet Jew Was Made (Harvard University Press, 2022), Sasha Senderovich offers a close reading of post revolutionary Russian and Yiddish literature and film that recast the Soviet Jew as an ambivalent character navigating between the Jewish past and Bolshevik modernity. After the revolution of 1917, Jews who had previously lived in the Russian Empire’s Pale of Settlement quickly exited the shtetls, seeking prospects elsewhere. Some left for bigger Soviet cities, others for Europe, America, or Palestine. Thousands tried their luck in the newly established Jewish Autonomous Region in the Far East, where urban merchants would become tillers of the soil. For these Jews, Soviet modernity meant freedom, the possibility of the new, and the pressure to discard old ways of life.

Sasha Senderovich is an assistant professor in Slavic, Jewish, and International Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle. Together with Harriet Murav, he translated, from the Yiddish, David Bergelson’s novel Judgment (Northwestern University Press, 2017). Together with Harriet Murav, he is currently working on In the Shadow of the Holocaust: Short Fiction by Jewish Writers from the Soviet Union, a collection of stories by several different authors translated from both Yiddish and Russian. He has also published on contemporary Soviet-born immigrant Jewish authors in America. His first monograph, How the Soviet Jew Was Made, was published by Harvard University Press in 2022. In addition to scholarly work, he has also published essays on literary, cultural, and political topics in the Los Angeles Review of Books, the New York Times, the Forward, Lilith, Jewish Currents, the Stranger, and the New Republic.

Cosponsors: Department of German, Nordic, Slavic & Dutch, Department of History, Sharei Chesed


October 24
7:30 pm
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Adath Jeshurun Congregation
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Center for Jewish Studies
Sharei Chesed Congregation