Rabbi Israel Meir Kahan, The Chofetz Chaim (Jewish Biography as History)

Israel Meir Kagan (photo courtesy Baruch Chafetz via Wikimedia Commons)
Israel Meir Kagan (photo courtesy Baruch Chafetz via Wikimedia Commons)

Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan, better known as the Chofetz Chaim for his classic work on the sanctity of speech, was one of the major Rabbinic leaders of the late 19th and early 20th century.

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Evgenia Ginzburg: Jewish Life Under Stalin

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.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lTd3tVM-lM]

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Solomon Mikhoels: Jews and Jewish Art in the USSR

Part I:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7OQVLbziE0]

Part II:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dcy2u6EkzI]

Part III:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7ZX9oI2Szw]

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.