"Jeffrey Veidlinger relates a fascinating and little-known piece of history. . . . [He] distills a remarkable amount of research into a pithy, well-turned account that will interest readers of cultural and political history." —Publishers Weekly
Drawing from newly available archives, Jeffrey Veidlinger uses the dramatic story of the Moscow State Yiddish Theater, the premiere secular Jewish cultural institution of the Soviet era, to demonstrate how Jewish writers and artists were able to promote Jewish national culture within the confines of Soviet nationality policies.
Published with the generous support of the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation.
A Note on Transliteration and Translation
Introduction: Soviet Jewish Culture or Soviet Culture in Yiddish?
1. "Let's Perform a Miracle": The Creation of the Moscow State Yiddish Theater
2. Comrades from the Center: State, Party, and Stage
3. Wandering Stars: Tour and Reconstruction
4. The Court Is in Session: Judgment Postponed
5. Where Are the Maccabees?: The Heroic Past
6. One Generation Passes Away: The Great Terror
7. Brother Jews: Mikhoels and the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee
8. Our People Live: The Yiddish Theater during World War II
9. This Is a Bad Omen: The Last Act
Conclusion: The Moscow State Yiddish Theater
"Veidlinger's richly researched and observed history of an underrepresented historical topic depicts the problems attendant on creating and preserving Yiddish as a language and a national and theatrical culture within the restrictive and propagandistic Soviet culture that sought to appropriate and subvert it. The Yiddish theater movement also faced orthodox rabbinical opposition based on the rejection of pagan influences and the increased agency of women, whose role in traditional religious practices was severely limited. Modeled after the Moscow Art Theatre, the Moscow State Yiddish Theatre (MSYT) listed among its creative leaders director Granovsky (who employed Meyerhold's revolutionary biomechanics to train actors), painter—designer Chagall, actor—director Mikhoels (whose death Stalin most likely engineered), and cubist—supremacist designer Altman (who also worked with Meyerhold and at the Habirna Theatre). MSYT's advent in a decade during which the state was pushing to forge a new proletarian culture from a variety of cultural discourses provided some temporary protection from anti—Jewish and anti—Zionist attacks. Veidlinger is good both at delineating the suspicious, tactical relationship between artists and ideologues that characterized Soviet culture and in framing the question of what constitutes a national or narodnaia (people's, folk, or mass) culture, which haunted this nation for more than a century. Photographs and an extensive bibliography. Upper—division undergraduates and above."~S. Golub, Brown University , 2001jul CHOICE.
"Jeffrey Veidlinger's thoroughly researched, engagingly written, and richly informative book tackles these issues through the tale of the rise and fall of the Moscow State Yiddish Theater. The choice of the Moscow Theater is ingenious.. Veidlinger's analysis of the increasingly unbridgable agendas of the Soviet regime and the Jewish cultural elite is on the mark, especially the watershed of World War II.. Veidlinger's book is an important and much—needed contribution to the literature on oviet nationality policy in general and Soviet Jewry in particula"~Amir Weiner, Stanford University reviewing "The Moscow State Yiddish Theater"
"A product of in-depth research in Yiddish, Hebrew, Russian and English ['The Moscow State Yiddish Theater'] not only furthers our knowledge of the Yiddish theater in the Soviet Union, but it also deepens and revises our understanding of the Kremlin's policy toward Jewish society and culture from 1919 to the early 1950s."~Robert Weinberg
"Jeffrey Veidlinger's book, The Moscow State Yiddish Theater: Jewish Culture on the Soviet Stage, is an overdue addition to the growing body of scholarly work on Yiddish theatre. This first comprehensive study of the GOSET in English is geared toward a wide-ranging readership. For the historian, Veidlinger clearly presents the intrusion of totalitarian politics into artistic activities; for the theatre scholar, he provides evocative details and illustrative descriptions of the theatre's artistic work.. Veidlinger's seminal study, The Moscow State Yiddish Theater: Jewish Culture on the Soviet Stage, does an important work in bringing it to the attention of the English-speaking audience"~Nina Hein, Columbia University reviewing "The Moscow State Yiddish Theater"
"Jeffrey Veidlinger relates a fascinating and little—known piece of history. . . . [He] distills a remarkable amount of research into a pithy, well—turned account that will interest readers of cultural and political histor"~Publishers Weekly