IIan Goren has reported (Ha’aretz, August 24, 2013) that Putin government in a recent brief (No. 1361) has “agreed to implement a plan of voluntary settlement in the Jewish Autonomous Region, in Birobidzhan. The initiative is designed to help the local mineral industry”.
On March 28, 1928, the Jewish-controlled presidium of the General Executive Committee of the Soviet Union approved the establishment of a Jewish national region in the country’s Far East, Birobidzhan, named after the district’s capital city. The state which borders Manchuria, was meant as a homeland for the Jews of the USSR, with Yiddish serving with Russian as one of two official languages.
The Jews from European Russia, United States, South America, Europe and British occupied Palestine came to live in their biblical promised land. On May 7, 1934, the Jewish entity, size of Switzerland, was declared an Autonomous Jewish Entity within USSR by Russian dictator Joseph Stalin.
Bolshevik Jewish leadership was not in good terms with the Zionist movement due to later’s collaboration with Nazis. The Soviet government sought Western Jewish organizations to provide funds and campaign for the resettlement of Western Jewry in Birobidzhan. In 1943, the Jewish Anti-fascist Committee (JAC) president, Solomon Mikhoels, headed a delegation of Soviet Jewish leaders to the United States, Britain, Canada and Mexico. The delegation was welcomed by notable Jewish leaders, such as, Albert Einstein, Chaim Weizmann, Charlie Chaplin, Marc Chagall, Paul Robeson, and Lion Feuchtwanger. During the eight-month trip, Mikhoels raised over $32 million for the Russian Jewish project.
The Soviet government chose Yiddish over Hebrew as the official language. Hebrew was preferred by the World Zionist Congress, which is the official language of Israel.
According to Soviet official records, over 30,000 Jews lived in Birobidzhan by 1947. However, after the creation of a parallel Jewish state in Palestine in 1948, most of Jews left Birobidzhan for Israel and United States. Currently, only 4000 Jews live in Birobidzhan.
Read the “Jewish story” of Birobidzhan here and Justin Smith’s story here.
New Jewish settlements in Russian ?Jewish state? | Rehmat's World