By Jonathan L. Dekel-Chen
This can be the 1st historical past of the Jewish agricultural colonies that have been proven in Crimea and Southern Ukraine in 1924 and that, fewer than twenty years later, led to tragedy. Jonathan Dekel-Chen opens a unprecedented window on Soviet rural lifestyles in the course of those turbulent years, and he records the impressive relatives that constructed one of the American-Jewish sponsors of the bold undertaking, the Soviet professionals, and the colonists themselves.Drawing on wide and mostly untouched files and a wealth of formerly unpublished oral histories, the publication revises what has been understood approximately those agricultural settlements. Dekel-Chen deals new conclusions approximately integration and separation between Soviet Jews, the contours of diplomacy, and the stability of political forces in the Jewish global in this risky interval.
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Extra info for Farming the Red Land: Jewish Agricultural Colonization and Local Soviet Power,1924-1941
Attitudes among America’s Jews toward Russia’s new rulers spanned the political spectrum— from membership in the communist party to staunch anticommunism. But no matter how they viewed communism, the fact remained that nearly million of their brethren lived under the new regime. The sharp political divisions in the Jewish world during the early s echoed the disputes of previous decades, especially over the role of Palestine in the regeneration of the Jewish people. Many leaders questioned the wisdom of settlement there, particularly as a refuge for the oppressed Jewish masses of Eastern Europe.
70 While Western ideas of social engineering stirred some early interest, it never garnered wide public appeal in Soviet Russia, and then faded in the second half of the s. 71 The productivization of Russian Jewry made political sense for Moscow: the Jews’ literacy rate was nearly twice the national average, even higher among the youth. 72 At least in theory, such people might help elevate the Russian peasantry. A contemporary Soviet study reinforced this finding; compared with many of the indigenous peoples in Crimea, Jews possessed superior intellectual traits.
As for America’s Jews, persuading them to fund famine relief was one thing; support for massive agricultural resettlement in a land other than Palestine was another. On top of that, the Joint somehow had to convert the spontaneous migration of Jews from the shtetls into a full-scale colonization movement. The logistical barriers were truly colossal. Equally urgent, Rosen had to foster a long-term partnership between mutually suspicious oﬃcials in the Joint and in the Soviet government. The sponsors of colonization then had to persuade reluctant Jews from the shtetls to transform their lives overnight.