The discovery of the mutilated body of a young boy in Kiev led to the false arrest of a Jewish laborer named Mendel Beilis. Ignoring the argument of investigating officers, the Russian government under Tsar Nicholas II pressed ahead with the prosecution of Beilis, arguing that the boy was murdered as part of a Passover-related Jewish plot. After two years’ imprisonment, Beilis was freed by a Ukrainian Jewry that could not be persuaded to agree with the Russian prosecutor. Part of the This Week in Jewish History series by Dr. Henry Abramson.
Rabbi Yisrael Lipkin of Salant (Israel Salanter, 1810-1883) was the founder of the modern Mussar movement that revolutionized traditional Jewish education. Controversial during his lifetime, his ideas ultimately permeated the Yeshiva system as a whole. Part of the Jewish Biography as History series in Jewish History.
Evgenia Ginzburg (1904-1977) was a Jewish woman who endured the horrors of the Stalinist Gulag. Charged and convicted of anti-Soviet activity in 1937, she was sent to the infamous work camps of Siberia for nearly two decades until her case was reviewed two years after Stalin’s death. She was ultimately rehabilitated, and published her memoirs of the ordeal. Her life story is illustrative of the tenuous situation of Jews in the Soviet Union during the Stalinist period.
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Solomon Mikhoels (1890-1948) was one of the most prominent actors and directors in early Soviet Russia. His career coincides with the brief flourishing of Yiddish culture under the policy of korenizatsiia, or “indiginization,” when the Communist authorities sought to develop folk culture as a means of developing loyalty to the new regime and its ideology. Performing in Shakespeare and Sholom Aleichem with equal grace, Mikhoels was a hero to Jews throughout the Soviet Union until Stalin brought the liberal policy to an abrupt end.