Olesya Shayduk-Immerman: "Building a Sukkah out of Matches: Learning to be Jewish in the Late Soviet State"

Olesya Shayduk-Immerman will be presenting her paper, "Building a Sukkah out of Matches: Learning to be Jewish in the Late Soviet State."

Abstract: What was Judaism in the 1970s and the 1980s in the Soviet Union? A means of expression of Jewish sentiment, a spiritual search, an intellectual hobby, a space for creativity or a party membership? Life according to the convents of Torah in the late Soviet Union was not significantly institutionalized. For this reason, people who became interested in observing Judaism began doing it in a zone of relative freedom by which they themselves created and shaped the institutions. The forms that were created were not always compatible with the forms that had been established and institutionalized in Israel and the USA. This became evident through Soviet Jews’ encounters with visiting foreigners and even more so after their emigration to Israel and the US. Typically, following the model of totalitarianism, the story of the Soviet Jewish revival has been told in scholarly works as an attempt to restore an existing type of repressed ‘pure’ Jewishness. By contrast, I will deploy a notion of productive power and the post-socialist approach to show how the Soviet system generated unique experiences, meanings and pleasure within various practices of observance and the study of sacred texts. 

To get a copy of the paper, email Max Waterman (maxfield.waterman@berkeley.edu) or Julia Sizek (jsizek@berkeley.edu) by April 5. Hope to see you there!


Event details
Friday, April 7, 2017 - 3:00pm - 5:00pm
Room 15, 2224 Piedmont