Page 58 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 40

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fleeted in the sam izdat White Paper p rep a red by the o rgan izers o f
the Moscow Symposium on Jew ish Cu lture in the U S SR sched ­
u led for December 21-22, 1976, but cancelled by the Soviet
authorities. T h e White Paper inc luded documents, a history o f
events lead ing up to the symposium and reports schedu led for
delivery at the event. T h e participants point to the desirability o f
increased cultural and educational activity in the Soviet Union to
meet the needs o f the “ majority o f Soviet Jew s [who] continue and
will continue to remain in the U SSR for a long time. . .
Symposium reports carefully avoid political issues and focu s on
aspects o f Jew ish culture — music, arts, education , and Hebrew
instruction. T h e participants reject the Yiddish langu age and
official Yiddish cu lture and call fo r a reinstatement o f Hebrew
and a return to Jew ish tradition o f the pre-shtetl period . Activists
such as Benjam in F a in ,12 M. Zubin and A lexander L e rn e r appea l
to the West to provide nonpolitical cultural material.
Jew ish culture is the focus o f ano ther sam izdat jo u rn a l Tarbut
(Hebrew for culture), which first app ea red in 1975 as a su pp le ­
ment to Jews in the USSR and later as an independen t jo u rn a l .13
Designed for a wider aud ience than the more intellectual Jews in
the USSR , Tarbut succeeded in reach ing all cities with Jew ish
activists, who often reproduced their copies for fu r th er d istr ibu ­
tion. In contrast to the experimental, introspective Jews in the
U SSR , Tarbut relies on authoritative sources (many translations)
and emphasizes the stability, continuity and unity o f Jew ish life
throughout the world. Later issues also include original fiction.
Religious topics are central in Tarbut; 14 some issues are a rran g ed
thematically around specific Jew ish holidays. Th e ed itorials insist
that their activity is legal and u rge grea ter freedom fo r the d e ­
velopment o f Jew ish culture in the U SSR .
A sam izdat collection entitled Ivrit (Hebrew) first app ea red in
the summer o f 1978 (vol. 17 o f Evreiskii samizdat). It contains
essays on the Hebrew language and its study, documen ts on
12 Benjamin Fain, who emigrated to Israel in 1976, has been active in Israel in
organizing the preparation of Jewish cultural material to be sent to Soviet Jews
by legal means.
13 Twelve issues, numbered according to Hebrew numeration, were republished
in Evreiskii samizdat, vols. 18, 19.
14 Since religious matters were a difficult area for the staff o fJews in the USSR,
those more interested in religion gravitated to Tarbut. Vladimir Lazaris, “The
Saga o f Jewish Samizdat,” Soviet Jewish Affairs, vol. 9, no. 1, 1979, p. 16.