EAJS Conference Grant Programme 2017/18
25th Annual International Conference on Jewish Studies (Moscow)
The 25th Annual International Conference on Jewish Studies was held In Moscow on February 4-6, 2018. 170 scientists from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Israel, Great Britain, USA, France, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Georgia, Italy, Japan, as well as numerous guests and students participated in it.
The conference was organized by the Sefer Center with the support of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, the Russian Jewish Congress, Genesis Philanthropy Group, the Washington Institute of Israel, the European Association for Jewish Studies, the “Joint” Distribution Committee and the Presidential Grants Fund.
The variety of problems discussed at the conference was reflected in the structure of its programme, which included 28 sections devoted to traditional areas of Jewish studies (biblical and Talmudic studies, Jewish thought, Jewish history of different periods, Judeo-Christian relations, the Holocaust, Israeli studies, languages and literature, art, ethnology, museum and archival sources, etc.).
The decision last year to combine this international conference with a youth conference received a positive evaluation and was considered a good experience. The decision was repeated this year, thanks to which young researchers could submit their reports to the discussion of the academic community.
At the opening of the conference, the Ambassador of the State of Israel in the Russian Federation, Mr. Harry Koren, and the Director General of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, one of the sponsors of the conference, Haim Ben Yakov, delivered their welcoming speech.
The presentation of new editions of the Center “Sefer” and the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences was held as well. Several books were presented.
The Professor Eugene Wiener grant was awarded during the plenary session. The grantees of this year were Maria Kaspina (RSUH), Ilya Lensky (Museum of Jews of Latvia, Riga) and Andrei Shpirt (MSU). By tradition, the conference also included a presentation of the latest publications on Judaica, published in the last year by colleagues from different countries.
According to the feedback of all the participants the conference was well prepared and held at a high level, and was very interesting and useful in various ways. The topics of the presented speeches are getting more diverse. There are topical sections, and the conferences are year by year getting better and more informative, which was noted as a constant trend. Not only the high level of reports and their discussions were noted, but also the warm, friendly, soulful atmosphere that prevailed at the conference.
Since 1993, the Sefer Conference has become a major meeting place for the exchange of ideas between researches in the field of the Russian-speaking Jewish Studies. This is the 25th meeting of the conference. At the moment our conference is the largest of its kind and brings together a large number of researchers in the former Soviet space (approximately 200 people meet annually at the conference).
The Sefer Annual International Academic Conference in Jewish studies is the largest in the CIS and Baltic states forum for scholars who work in the field of Judaica. The conference brings together academics of different generations (including PhD students and early career researchers) and Jewish community members, and allows them to enrich their knowledge base, to share their views and experience, contribute to the development of Jewish university education and studies, as well as to coordinate research and teaching in the area of Jewish studies in the CIS and Baltic states. The main working language of the conference is Russian. There are several large conventions in the field of Jewish studies, but the working language is mostly English. For Russian researchers and researchers from a number of Eastern European countries the question of language is often a very important point. For us it is very important for our work that there be a large conference in Russian, as well as the publication of collections in Russian. English is the second working language.
The conference is not devoted to a single topic or period in the history of the Jews, but covers various aspects and periods of Jewish history and culture. It is open to both young researchers and for people with scientific status. Young and early career researchers will have special panels, where there are discussants (leading specialists in certain scientific fields) who read the abstracts of papers and prepare questions and advice. In the last two years (in particular thanks to money awarded by the EAJS to be used towards travel grants for PhD students and early career researchers), the number of participants from Europe has increased. The conference was a meeting place for the exchange of ideas by researchers from Eastern and Western Europe, USA and Israel.
EAJS-Funded Travel Grants
Due to the money awarded by the EAJS for travel grants, 18 PhD students and early career researchers from Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Israel, Switzerland, Hungary, Georgia, Latvia, Germany had the opportunity to participate in the Conference. The PhD students and early career researchers who received travel grants were as follows:
- Raluca-Ioana Andrei (Bucharest, Romania) PhD student
- Jagoda Budzik (Poznan/Wroclaw, Poland) PhD student
- Magdalena Dziaczkowska (Lublin, Poland) PhD student
- Chaja (Vera) Duerrschnabel (Bern, Switzerland) PhD student
- Kirill Gavrilenko (Brest, Belarus) MA student
- Julia Gnatowska (Kraków, Poland) PhD student
- Konstantin Karpekin (Vitebsk, Belarus) PhD, Early Career Researchers
- Borbala Klacsmann (Budapest, Hungary) PhD student
- Anna Litovchenko (Kharkov, Ukraine) PhD student
- Julia Oreshina (Tbilisi, Georgia) PhD student
- Svetlana Pogodina (Riga, Latvia) PhD, Early Career Researchers
- Nadia Skokova (Lviv, Ukraine) PhD student
- Ekaterina Tolerenok (Polotsk, Belarus) PhD student
- Tatiana Yakovleva (Regensburg, Germany) PhD student
- Alexander Valdman (Jerusalem/Haifa, Israel) PhD, Early Career Researchers
- Elizaveta Zabolotnykh (Ekaterinburg, Russia) PhD student
- Zawada Przemyslaw (Wroclaw, Poland) PhD student
- Esther Zyskina (Jerusalem, Israel) MA student
Event Programme (from the perspective of PhD students and early career researchers that received travel grants)
Panel and discussions:
I presented my paper in the panel “Eastern Europe after the Second World War” on Monday, 5th of February, in the youth section. The chairs were Artur Markowski and Blanka Soukupova. There were two talks in the main section: first, Anke Kalkbrenner (Berlin) spoke in English about “Transnational adoption of Jewish child survivors in the immediate aftermath of Second World War”, a chapter of her PhD and upcoming book. The talk was insightful and offered information about an aspect which is rarely talked about, from an interesting perspective. She cited newspaper articles from the USA encouraging people to adopt child survivors of the Holocaust and she presented the case of Bella, a little girl adopted by an American soldier and she also presented the outcome of her adoption. Her talk prompted compelling questions about the legal aspects of adoption, as well as the challenges of her research.
Anke’s presentation was followed by Blanka Soukupova (Prague), who talked about “Self-consciousness of the Wounded Memory: The Jewish Minority in the Czech Republic after the Shoah”. Unfortunately, this talk was delivered in Russian and since I cannot speak Russian I could not participate in the discussions afterwards.
The youth section was comprised of mine and Borbala Klacsmann’s (Budapest) speech. I presented my paper first, and it was followed by questions and discussions about Romanian Jewry in early Communism and the structure of the Jewish community. I had fruitful conversations afterwards with Borbala Klacsmann, Katja Grosse-Sommer (Stockholm) and Magdalena Dziaczkowska (Lublin). Borbala and I also talked about the differences between the situation in Hungary and Romania after the Holocaust, discussion that was prompted by her speech “Neglected Restitution: The Relation of the Commissariat of Abandoned Properties and the Hungarian Jews (1945–1948)”.
As a result of the discussions during and following the panel, I realized that little is generally said about Romanian Jewry and that there are researchers interested in the topic. Furthermore, there is room to learn from more experienced researchers in Europe and Israel who have done important work on the period after the Second World War. Concerning my research, the conversations I have had with my peers and more experienced researchers led me to extend one of my research questions that I am currently working on for my PhD, as I intend to compare the rules imposed on Yiddish in Romania at the beginning of Communism with the rules imposed on Yiddish in the Soviet Union. I am now looking to research the situation in more former communist countries.
Panel and discussions:
The panel I had a pleasure to participate in was devoted to the topic of Jewish literature and Jews in literature. The panel was chaired by professor Elena Rimon and professor Victoria Mochalova. It included speeches presented in a chronological order, beginning from the nineteenth century, until two first decades of the twenty first century. The range of topics discussed in the section was impressively wide which proved how complex and ambiguous field Jewish literature is. In the first presentation Anna Weissman from Moscow discussed the nineteenth century’s Jewish memoires, paying particular attention both to the topics overrepresented in the abovementioned group of texts, and to those that did not appear at all. She also provided interesting analysis of the reasons why this happened. As the second speaker, her paper presented Tatiana Yakovleva, who spoke about various representations of Odessa and Potemkin in literature and cinema. Her presentations consisted of two parts: a theoretical framework where she presented some fundamental categories connected to the concept of semiosphere (and explained their particular meaning for the topic) and an analyses of the chosen examples. The third presentation, delivered by Victoria Mochalova, was an interesting combination of two texts: Paul Morand’s I Burn Moscow and Bruno Jasieński’s I Burn Paris. The author with a great competence explained the complex relation between the two texts, showing how the category of pastiche may serve as a useful tool of formulating ideological statements and conduct an intertextual discussion between authors of various cultural, ethnic and ideological background. The fourth speaker, Elena Rimon from Ariel College presented selected aspects of perception of Soviet literature in Israel, as well as its extensive influence on Hebrew literature in various periods of its development, paying particular attention on the Dor ha-Palmach literature. Maria Endel’s talk was focused on one of the greatest Holocaust poets, Paul Celan. She analyzed his widely described poetry in an unusual context of Kabbalah, pointing out various references and potential connections that have not been explored so far. The last speaker delivered her presentation concerning two Polish texts of the authors counted among the second post-Holocaust generation: Rodzinna historia lęku by Agata Tuszyńska and Fałszerze pieprzu by Monika Sznajderman. The paper focused on the issues characteristic for this group of authors such as generational transmission of trauma and attempts to reconstruct the ancestors’ experiences made by the children Holocaust survivors.
Chaja (Vera) Duerrschnabel
Panel and discussions:
My section was called “Biblical Studies ” and it was a complete youth section which was held on Monday afternoon. Although all papers apart from mine have been in Russian and I only started to learn the Russian language one year ago, I could follow the main ideas of the presentations because of the English Power Point presentations.
For me, it was really useful that my paper was read before by a reviewer (Alexey Lyavdansky (Russian State University)) who deals with the same material and could give me some helpful comments on my presentation. Following my presentation, we had an interesting and fruitful discussion on the performativity of magical texts and the question if the classical definition of performativity by Austin must be modified.
I am also especially grateful for the useful comments given to me by Shani Tzoref from University of Postdam.
Panel and discussions:
Yanina Karpenkina from Moscow presented her work “About how the Jewish youth became Soviet. Eastern Poland 1939-1941.” She used the method of interviewing. The survey was conducted among people born in 1920-1934 (they were 5-19 years old in 1939). Soviet authorities put much attention to re-educate young people of Eastern Poland in 1939-1941, when its territories were under its power. Private schools became public and eventually free of charge; schools with education in Hebrew were closed; instead Yiddish language and Russian schools were established; Jews got the right to study in universities. They actively joined the Pioneers’ and Komsomol youth organizations. The poor Jews positively perceived the appearance of the Red Army. Under the new system, they got more rights and equality. Many parents enrolled their children in Russian schools. Shmuel Barnay (discussant) expressed his doubts that it is possible to use memories of five years old children as a reliable source of information. They still could not reflect the reality. In addition, he pointed out to the fact that all memories on the eve of Holocaust would be inevitably positive. However, Yanina was convinced that it was a positive experience for children. Nobody forced Jewish people to study Russian language. (We’ve already discussed it the day before with Evgenii Rozenblad.) Knowledge of Russian language presented a good opportunity for Jews to get university education and eventually get a good job. Anna Sorokina (Hillel) offered to look for Jewish periodicals of the 20th century, where one can find a lot of useful information on Jewish youth organizations.
Valeria Malik (Moscow) presented a paper “Formation of educational and professional trajectories in the face of discriminatory barriers: study on the basis of autobiographies (Jews in the USSR)”. She used memories from the website of Yevgenia Berkovich “Notes on Jewish History” She presented 3 of 35 autobiographies written by people born in 1920s and 1930s. These were the stories of how they got University education in USSR. Karina Barkan (Riga) presented a paper “Observance of Jewish “autumn” holidays in the Latvian SSR (1914-1989)”. Her research was based on archival documents and memoirs (polls). According to Karina’s research many Jews did not observe the Sabbath, but a lot of them tried not to work on Yom Kippur and Rosh-ha-Shana. In was easier for the Jews lived small towns to close their business on that days without asking the authorities. In Riga it was more difficult, but they tried to find the ways. For example, there was a man who regularly took sick leave during the autumn holidays. After 1953 half of Latvian Jews tried to visit synagogues, others just gathered at home with their families for a feast meal. They tried to express not their religiosity, but their identity. Shmuel Barnay commented that it was very dangerous to close the enterprise without the government’s permission, for the owner could be accused of sabotage. Likely, provincial authorities were more loyal to the Jews.
Maria Makarova (Warsaw) presented a paper “I deny Birobidzhan-not people, but the city” Personal correspondence, as a source for the study of immigrants from Birobidzhan to Israel. Maria studies the community in Israel who moved from Birobidzhan, useing biographical method. She was acquainted with a person, who shared memories of his wife Dora and showed some letters written by Emanuel Stein and newspaper articles about him. In his letters, Emanuel Stein expressed his opinion about Birabdzhan and Israel. Being an experienced immigrant he gave his advices to Dora. He was her first love.
Maria Shishigina (Moscow) presented a paper “Jewish community of Perm: external and internal communication in 1990-2000”. Maria told as about Perm’s Synagogue, which is more than 100 years old and a Hasidim (Chabad) community, which was recently appeared. On the attitude of people towards religion. She used the method of observation and interviews. According to her observations, elderly people are already gone, and young people who visit the synagogue are trying to immigrate. Many people visit the synagogue only for holidays. Some people come to pray, but do not feel religious. Sometimes, they do it out of habit. She was asked about rabbis and amount of Jews in Perm. Nowadays community consists of nearly 2000 people, but less than 30 attend synagogue for praying. They have rabbi in Perm, but not very good one. First it was a young man, but he left and now rabbi is older. Many young people do not like him.
Panel and discussions:
Our section was dedicated to the history of Jewish subethnical groups and included eight presentations. The most active discussion, as it seemed to me, was caused by Ekaterina Belkina’s talk on newly revealed manuscripts from Afghanistan, which inspired many interesting questions. Another noticeable paper was Vyacheslav Zarubin’s “On the Census of the Eupatoria Karaites of 1918”, which included a reflection on sociological data, thus shedding light on the socio-economic position of Crimean Karaites at that time.
Four of the presentations were dedicated to the history of the Karaites, which proves that this topic is still relevant among the researchers. Another of them, Alexandra Fishel’s “The Methodology created in the Dispute” was a remarkable study of different methodologies, the aim of which is to help reveal an epigraphic forgery. The speaker claimed that these methodologies not only could be used in the previous century, but are also relevant in the modern research. This talk also resulted in a vivid discussion in the questions & answers section. Nevertheless, the presentation by Eyal Ginio “Military Service, Citizenship and Identity in the Late Ottoman Empire: The Jewish Experience” was an excellent introduction to a less explored topic.
All in all, numerous questions were asked after every talk, proving the relevancy of the topics and the interest taken by the participants in the works by their fellow researchers.
Panel and discussions:
At conference I took part in section work “History of Jews in the Russian empire” – both basically, and in the youth panel. In work of section as lecturers and listeners participated more than 20 persons.
D. Feldman’s report has been devoted Jews – to inhabitants of the German large village Moscow in 17 century the Basic attention has been given Jews – to Rech Pospolitaya who have appeared in the Moscow princedom as a result of capture the natives. The message has been based on documents of the Inozemsky order 1658 – 1659 which allow to track process of revealing of Jews in a large village, their interrogations, transition from a Judaism in other belief, resettlement in the remote provinces of a princedom. Documents have been analysed by the lecturer very thoroughly – taking into account all a dung and corrections. Starting with that D. Feldman’s reports of former years, it studies history of Jews of various large villages of Moscow and further separate messages can make uniform generalising research.
N. Nikitina and I. Gribanova prepared on the basis of documents from the State archive of the Smolensk region the report was not less substantial. It has been devoted daily occurrence of the Jewish population of Smolensk province in second half 19 – the beginning 20 century Judging by the report maintenance, the considerable share of sources of research was made by registers of births of the Jewish communities. Researchers had been noted some features of the specified period. In particular, that make wedding could not only rabbis or their assistants, but also petty bourgeoises, and also that only approximately about 1870th in registers of births the concrete cause of death (this or that illness) began to be specified.
M. Grobman’s message has been devoted an everyday life of Jews of the Russian empire, prepared on the basis of copies of the documents stored in archives of Jerusalem. The researcher has allocated such categories of documents, as materials of audits and population censuses, topographical descriptions of settlements, lists of tax bearers, registers of births, documents on resettlement of Jews and investigatory affairs.
The researcher from Kharkov A. Strahova has devoted the report of history to emigratory communities in the Russian empire in 1881 – 1917 In an opening address the lecturer has analysed opinion of various historians concerning, whether wanted to reduce the Russian government number of Jews in empire by resettlement. The basic part of the report has been devoted to the activity analysis “Jewish societies”. The researcher has paid attention that both the society, and the Russian government pursued the aims. The government resolved society activity as hoped for emigration of the poorest groups of the Jewish population. In turn the society fat to be engaged in due course, except other, delivery of credits to Jews.
Among the reports which have sounded in an operating time of youth section, the greatest attention, in our opinion, E. Tolerenok’s research deserves. It has been devoted the Jewish agricultural settlements of Belarus of second half 19 century and reconstruction of appearance of such settlements by means of computer graphics. Results of the given research can be applied in museum expositions.
Panel and discussions:
My section, Eastern Europe after the Second World War, contained four presentations: Anke Kalkbrenner’s (Humboldt University) Desired Children – Transnational adoption of Jewish child survivors in the immediate aftermath of Second World War addressed the topic of orphaned Jewish children and their fate during and after the war, who had been adopted by members of the Allied armies. Anke described a case study, when a German Jewish girl was taken in by an American soldier, who, after arranging papers for her, sent him to the US. However, his spouse had left him in the meanwhile and she did not want to take care of the little girl, who was left in the grandparents’ care. Such cases were not unique, many times Jewish children faced hardships due to the war and the personal circumstances of the new stepparents.
In the youth section of the panel Raluca-Ioana Andrei (University of Bucharest) talked about the IKUF (The IKUF Association and Yiddish Culture in Romania 1944-1953), a Jewish association in post-war Romania, whose main purpose was reviving Jewish culture based on Yiddish language. Their activities covered theater performances, literature, the establishment of libraries, teaching and journalism. Through the description of the IKUF, Raluca also mapped the historical context of the era, the history of Romanian Jews and Yiddish language in post-war Romania.
Panel and discussions:
I presented my paper at the section called “Museums, collections and expositions” chaired by Alla Sokolova and Marina Shcherbakova. The session was opened by the paper of Marina Shcherbakova (Heidelberg) who gave the in-depth and detailed analysis of Pulner’s impact on the development of the Historical and Ethnographical Museum of the Jews in Soviet Georgia, based on her archival research. This presentation was followed by a pretty intense discussion, an especially interesting question was asked by E. Melamed about the link between the collections in the Jewish museum in Odessa and the Historical Jewish Museum in Soviet Georgia located in Tbilisi. The second paper presented at the section was a common work of Marina Shcherbakova and Evgenya Zakharova (St. Petersburg). This paper was focused on the M.S. Plisetskiy’s collection of field photographs of Georgian Jews from his expeditions in 1920s – 1930s, based mostly on the photo-materials preserved at the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (St. Petersburg). This paper was also followed by a lively discussion which made it difficult to finish the panel on time. The third paper presented at this section was the work of Alla Sokolova (St. Petersburg) which focused on the representations of Judaism in art works of the museums of Moscow and Leningrad in 1930s. This paper was especially of my interest due to the fact that it was in a way a continuation of the course in which I took part during the Winter School. the next session was the “Jewish cultural heritage and society: problems and breakthroughs”, chaired by Ilya Lensky and Irina Dushakova). This not only allowed me to present my paper, but also left enough time for questions and answers session. Among the most interesting questions, I would like to mention the inquire of Anastasia Felcher (St. Petersburg) about the presence or absence of the issue of collaboration in the museum of Sarajevo, the question of Marina Shcherbakova touching upon the political situation and public discussions which created the need and possibility of establishing Jewish museums in Belgrade and in Sarajevo (this was a question which I was able to answer only partially, as my research didn’t touch upon the early history of those museums), and the question of Alexander Ivanov (St. Petersburg).
Panel and discussions:
After all presentations of the section, there was a meaningful discussion. The questions and different opinions reflected the interest to the topic of my paper, as well as other presentations also got their comments and useful remarks from the auditorium. Our folklore section included many questions on given presentations. Through the work of section, we discussed the popular music folklore (song folklore) on the material of Russian and Yiddish songs, recorded in the beginning of the XX Century in Russia (Hava Shmulevich from Hebron). Maria Kaspina from Moscow Museum of the Jewish History in Russia gave a presentation on the phenomenon of Rabbi from Rybnitsk, the folklore narratives about his miracles, recorded from local citizens in Russian and Yiddish. The material for the presentation was collected during the ethnographic expeditions to Transnistria in 2017. Olga Belova from Slavic Studies Institute (Russian Academy of Science) focused on the folklore narratives of ethnocultural neighborhood. The empiric material for the research was gathered in the frames of the expeditions to Mogilev and Vitebsk regions in 2014-2015. The speaker gave a broad picture of the different narratives and mythological aspects of ethnocultural co-living. Igor Semenov from Makhachkala presented to the auditorium his paper dedicated to the Jewish rite known in Dagestan as a “tersbin”. The speaker emphasize the local particularity of this ritual, comparing it to the Slavic traditional culture and international folklore practices.
Panel and discussions:
The discussion after my presentation was dedicated to methodological and ideas questions than factual ones. From the very beginning, Blanka Soukupova (Prague) suggested to look at the fact of the Lviv pogrom in 1918 as a part of bigger anti-Semitic appealing in East Central Europe. My answer was based on revealed facts that I found so I could not accept this suggestion because I did not see a glue for such events in such big geographical scale right after the Great war when communication was poor. Eugenii Rosenblat supported the Soukupova’s argumentation however I still could not figure out how to tie these events during one period of time according to the methodological approached. I stick on my guns and explained that comparison was possible however not absolute. Another Soukupova’s feedback was on the “legend” among gentiles that Jews were not serve in the army as a result of the anti-Semitic appeals. As for my I could not consider that notion as a critical because such a “legend” did not find any approval on sources database and methodological approvals. Moreover, I stated facts of the Jewish duty at the Austrian army. Further discussion focused with Artur Markowski on my methodological approaches. The reasonable feedback of Markowski was considering the instrumental, representative tools and its usage in the problem revealing. We had discussed my understanding of the discursive reality and how it should be implemented in determinations of being among the supporters of the Lviv Zionist ideology.
Panel and discussions:
Very interesting discussion of our section “Jewish Literature and Jews in Literature” was after the Asia Weissman’s (Moscow) first paper “Personal Stories in Jewish Memoirs: What Shouldn’t Be Mentioned”. The contributor spoke about the memoir strategies and about the difference between memoirs and autobiographic novels. Memoirs could be a (not) reliable source and are expected to be with private feelings without pure descriptiveness of the events. After my paper “Odessa and Potemkin Days in Literature and Film” Dr. Elena Rimon from Ariel, one of the Chairs of our section, told me about the book “Poetics of Samara city space” (2015) where the city is considered as a space combining real facts and fiction. Also Ekaterina Kuznetsova from Berlin asked about any Odessa texts of this period regarding poor districts of the city except of the port. These spaces, such as Peresyp, Slobodka-Romanovka and Moldovanka, appear in the texts about pogrom in October 1905. This topic is also an important chapter in my research but it was not mentioned on this conference. The paper of Dr. Galina Eliasberg from Moscow ““What Kind of Revolution Would You Like?”: Red Odessa in the Works of S. Yushkevich” showed Odessa by 1920 after the Soviet Red Army came to power in the city. Semen Yushkevich wrote in this period the sketches of the fate of Jewish businessmen Gresser “Episodes” (1923). I added that more about the life and works by Yushkevich wrote American researcher Ruth Rischin in her dissertation “Semën Iushkevich (1868-1927): the man and his art”. The second Chair of our section, Dr. Victoria Mochalova from Moscow, in her presentation “The Jewish Theme in Paul Morand’s “I Burn Moscow” (Je brûle Moscou,1925) and Bruno Jasienski’s “I Burn Paris” (Palę Paryż, 1928)” compared the style and relationship of French and Polish authors. The story by Bruno Jasienski “I Burn Paris” came out as an answer to “I burn Moscow” by Paul Morand and was mentioned in the article of Martina Stemberger “France-Russie 1925: stéréotypes croisés”. The presentation by Dr. Elena Rimon from Ariel “From the “Volokolamsk Highway” to the “People of Panfilov”: Paradoxes of the Perception of Soviet Literature in Israel” showed the differences in understanding of the Soviet Literature in Israel using the example of the novel “Volokolamsk Highway” by Aleksandr Bek (1944). Also the other papers of the section by Irina Adelgeim from Moscow and by Jagoda Budzik from Poland caused interesting and enriching discussions about Poland in Israeli travel literature of the third generation and in Polish prose of the second generation of the Holocaust. All the papers of the section were intertextual and interdisciplinary and will contribute to our further research.
Panel and discussions:
I took part in a session devoted to the history of Jewish education in Imperial Russia. The other speakers in this session were Alexander Lokshin and Dmitrii Bratkin. Prof. Lokhshin presented a historical account on the heder (the traditional Jewish educational institution), while Dr. Bratkin discussed the ideological and personal background of the scholarly activities of the prominent Russian (Jewish-born) orientalist Dani’il Chvolson. Dr. Bratkin’s presentation provoked a discussion on Chvolson’s connections with the Jewish Reform movement in Germany, and on his scholarly connections with the contemporary Jewish scholars in Western Europe. My presentation was preceded by introduction by Prof. Shaul Shtampfer (Hebrew University of Jerusalem). The Q&A included comments on the nature of Jewish acculturation in Late Imperial Russia, a remark by Dr. Arthur Markovsky (Warsaw University) on the integration of Jewish students in the University of Warsaw, and several other questions and comments.
Personal feedback from PhD students and early career researchers
I am grateful for the opportunity to participate to this conference and I have welcomed the chance to meet fellow researchers from Europe and Israel. I believe the exchanges I have had with those I have spoken to have been very fruitful and I hope to stay in touch and to collaborate with them in the future (Raluca-Ioana Andrey)
Thank you so much for the inspiring time in Moscow. Like last year, Sefer was the perfect place for me to find new impulses for my own work, to meet interesting people and share mutual research interests. Thanks to Sefer I have met not only other researchers from Russia and the Eastern part of Europe, but I have also made new friends. After the Sefer conference in 2017 I started to learn Russian. At the moment, I have around three lessons a week. It was one of the best things I ever decided to do. It is a great benefit for my scientific work because I will start to read Russian literature on my subject soon. I look forward to come back in 2019 or even before (Chaja (Vera) Duerrschnabel)
Despite the fact that papers presented at our session and generally at the conference were very different in times and locations they all were focused on the Jewish people. Everyone could find interesting and useful information. Those impressed me most were a presentation on folklore by Hava Shmulevich from Hebron; the whole session “Jews in the USSR”, where Demian Valuyev from Smolensk presented a paper on Soviet anti-religious campaigns of 1920-1930. This topic was a bit similar to the issues I study in Ekaterinburg. It was interesting to compare these processes in different cities. I was also very much impressed by Shaul Stempfer (Jerusalem) lecture. He presented on a new document on 1881 Galicia’s demography, that he discovered lately in archive and speculated about the reasons for the significant population underestimations in the country.
I really enjoyed this scholarly event. In addition to lectures, we got acquainted with new books on Jewish studies. Besides, it was a good opportunity to establish working contacts with scientists from other cities and countries. I am very thankful for the opportunity to take part in this wonderful scholarly event. (Elizaveta Zabolotnykh)
I am very thankful for the opportunity to participate in such a conference and to present my research in front of more experienced colleagues. I am sure it will have positive effect on my future scientific work. Although my paper was not particularly dedicated to the history of Jewish subethnical groups, I was eventually reassured that every talk in our section was in its place. The discussion that arose after my presentation will surely influence my research methods. I was glad to hear presentations on the topics that were new for me, as it is always interesting to get an insight in other researchers’ work. I hope to continue this great experience next year (Esther Zyskina)
In our opinion, Center “Sefer” develops the optimum form of carrying out of scientific conference: combination of the basic and youth sections, conference addition with educational actions, presentation of new editions and researches on Jewish studies. The last is especially important for the Belarus experts as not all books from the Russian and Israeli publishing houses get to bookshops of Belarus. All reports which have sounded in an operating time of section “History of Jews in the Russian empire” had high scientific level. From a positive side they are characterised by their authors used wide source study base. It is remarkable that researchers have taken part in section work from the different countries: Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Moldova that testifies to wide interest the Jewish history of the given period (Karpekin Konstantin)
It was my first participation at the international conference organized by “Sefer”, and I should admit that it exceeded my expectations. Many interesting people, extremely insightful, motivating and brainstorming discussions, plenty of useful contacts – I regret I wasn’t able to be present at more than 1 session at the time and to hear several presentations simultaneously – it happened many times that 2-3 very interesting for me panels were ongoing simultaneously, and the choice was hard. Huge thanks to the organizers! (Yulia Oreshina)
That was a very useful discussion, which gave me opportunity to continue my research on the image of the Wandering Jew in the Latvian folklore (Svetlana Pogodina)
I find the panel an extremely interesting, well-prepared and fruitful experience. I would like to thank a lot for providing me a wonderful translator Elina thanks to whom I was able (as the only non-Russian speaker in the panel) to understand all the talks. I would like to add that the conference was for me a priceless opportunity to share the results of my current research as well as to learn about many fascinating projects conducted by my colleagues for all over the world. Thank you! (Jagoda Budzik)
Conference in Moscow was unique experience for me and definitely I do not regret that I took part in it. Organizers did a great job, hotel and food was already good, so there was no problem with any additional services. All information were also provided before the conference, so no one should feel bad in Moscow during the conference. I just a bit regret the fact that all panels were dominated by Russian language. I would recommend to make next time panels only in English or somehow advice young researchers to present their works in English. It will make the conference even more interesting. However, just to sum up, conference was very good and I am looking forward to participate next year (Przemyslaw Zawada)
For me, the participation in the XXV Sefer Conference was an inspiring and enriching experience. It was an important opportunity to share the results of my research, to meet colleagues from Russia and elsewhere, to share ideas, and learn on new approaches and research projects (Alex Valdman)