“I Knew that Messiah Had to Come”: Jewish Festive Rituals in a Soviet City
Keywords:Soviet Jews, Judaism, calendar rituals, synagogue, oral history, Sverdlovsk
The ethnic mobilisation that has unfolded throughout post-Soviet territory cannot be understood without a thorough examination of the preservation and transmission of ethnic identity in Soviet times. Despite the vast historiography devoted to studying various aspects of Jewish identity during the Soviet period, religiosity has rarely been an object of research. The purpose of this study is to identify religious practices that continued to exist among the Jewish population of Sverdlovsk until 1961, when the synagogue was closed. The authors refer to reports of the commissioners for Religious Affairs and data obtained during field research. They try to find out the extent and form of preserved calendar rituals, and what went missing from the daily life of the Sverdlovsk Jews. The research demonstrates that the religious community in the 1950s reached 500 people, or about 3 % of the entire Jewish population in the city. In the synagogue, a larger number of parishioners gathered during Passover, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, and Sukkot. Fewer believers attended Hanukkah, and Purim generally went unnoticed by the commissioner for Religious Affairs. The recollections of the informants about holidays (mainly Passover and Purim) are peculiarly and uniformly associated with the description of meals. This is due to the post-war hunger and the age of the informants; they were all children, for whom delicious food was the most important component of any holiday. The results obtained make it possible to assert that the festive rituals of Sverdlovsk Jews continued to be preserved even in non-religious families, albeit in a limited form, throughout the 1940s and 1950s, thus reinforcing their identity.
Amosova, S. N., Kaspina, M. M. (2018). Kalendarnye prazdniki [Calendar Holidays]. In Emel’ianenko, T. G., Nosenko-Stein, E. E. (Eds.). Evrei. Moscow, Nauka, pp. 318–345.
Dymshits, V. A. (2006). Evreiskii lubok i evreiskii narodnyi teatr [Jewish Woodblock Print and the Jewish Folk Theatre]. In Traditsionnaya kul’tura. Poiski. Interpretatsii. Materialy. St Petersburg, Rossiiskii institut istorii iskusstv, pp. 140–151.
Ekaterinburg ot perepisi k perepisi. Itogi Vserossiiskoi perepisi naseleniya 2002 goda. Statisticheskii sbornik [Yekaterinburg from Census to Census. Results of the 2002 All-Russian Population Census. Statistical Compilation]. Yekaterinburg, Oblstat. 83 p.
Fedorova, M. A. (2005). O veruyushchikh Sverdlovskoi oblasti: otchet upolnomochennogo v Sovet po delam religioznykh kul’tov pri pravitel’stve SSSR (1954) [On the Believers of Sverdlovsk Region: Report of the Commissioner to the Council for Religious Affairs of the USSR (1954)]. In Dokument. Arkhiv. Istoriya. Sovremennost’. Iss. 5, pp. 401–413.
GASO [State Archive of Sverdlovsk Region]. Stock 62. List 1. Dos. 524; Stock R-854. List 1. Dos. 2.
Gitel’man, Ts., Chervyakov, V. V., Shapiro, V. D. (1994). Iudaizm v natsional’nom soznanii rossiiskikh evreev [Judaism in the National Consciousness of Russian Jews]. In Vestnik Evreiskogo universiteta v Moskve. No. 3 (7), pp. 121–145.
Glavatskaya, E. M., Zabolotnykh, E. A. (2017). Evreiskaya religioznaya obshchina Ekaterinburga vo vtoroi polovine XIX – nachale XX v.: chislennost’ i instituty [The Jewish Religious Community in Yekaterinburg in the Late 19th – Early 20th Centuries: Number and Institutions]. In Izvestiya Ural’skogo federal’nogo universiteta. Seriya 2: Gumanitarnye nauki. Vol. 19. No. 4 (169), pp. 206–221. DOI 10.15826/izv2.2017.19.4.074.
Glavatskaya, E. M., Zabolotnykh, E. A. (2018). “…Po zakonu Moiseya i Izrailya”: brak za chertoi osedlosti (po materialam evreiskoi religioznoi obshchiny Ekaterinburga) [“According to the Law of Moses and Israel”: Jewish Marriages Outside the Pale of Settlement (with Reference to the Materials of the Yekaterinburg Jewish Religious Community)]. In Izvestiya Ural’skogo federal’nogo universiteta. Seriya 2: Gumanitarnye nauki. Vol. 20. No. 4 (181), pp. 9–26. DOI 10.15826/izv2.2018.20.4.063.
GAAOSO [State Archive of Administrative Bodies of Sverdlovsk Region]. Stock R-1. List 2. Dos. 18903/19887, 20684/22890.
Khanin, V. (2015). Religioznaya identichnost’ vykhodtsev iz byvshego SSSR v Izraile [The Religious Identity of Immigrants from the Former USSR in Israel]. In Gosudarstvo, religiya, tserkov’ v Rossii i za rubezhom. No. 3 (33), pp. 255–290.
LAEZ – Lichnyi arkhiv Elizavety Zabolotnykh [Personal Archive of Elizaveta Zabolotnykh]. Stock 1. List 1. Dos. 1–8; Stock 3. List 1. Dos. 3.
Nosenko-Stein, E. (2014). V poiskakh samosti. Izuchenie evreiskoi identichnosti [In Search of the Self: A Study of Jewish Identity]. In Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie. No. 3, pp. 71–95.
Statisticheskii sbornik Ekaterinburgskoi gubernii za 1922 g. [A Statistical Collection of Yekaterinburg Province for 1922]. (1923). Yekaterinburg, Ekaterinburgskoe statisticheskoe byuro. VIII, 226 p.
Tolts, M. (1996). Ethnicity, Religion and Demographic Change in Russia: Russians, Tatars and Jews. In Debernardi, M. Ch. (Ed.). Evolution or Revolution in European Population 2 (European Population Conference, Milan, 4–8 Sept. 1995. Contributed papers: sessions I–IV). Milan, EAPS and IUSSP, pp. 165–179.
Troinitsky, N. A. (Ed.). (1897–1905). Pervaya vseobshchaya perepis’ naseleniya Rossiiskoi imperii, 1897 g. [v 89 t.] [The First General Census of the Population of the Russian Empire, 1897]. St Petersburg, Slovo. Vol. 31. Permskaya guberniya. 322 p.
TsDOOSO [Centre for the Documentation of the Public Organisations of Sverdlovsk Region]. Stock 4. List 53. Dos. 111, 196.
Vsesoyuznaya perepis’ naseleniya 1926 goda [The All-Union Population Census of 1926]. (1928). Moscow, Tsentral’noe statisticheskoe upravlenie SSSR. Vol. 4. 423 p.
Vsesoyuznaya perepis’ naseleniya 1939 goda. Natsional’nyi sostav naseleniya raionov, gorodov i krupnykh sel RSFSR [The All-Union Population Census of 1939. National Composition of the Population of Districts, Cities and Large Villages of the RSFSR]. (1939). In Demoskop [website]. URL: http://www.demoscope.ru/weekly/ssp/rus_nac_39_ra.php?reg=1616 (accessed: 25.05.2020).
Zabolotnykh, E. A., Glavatskaya, E. M. (2021). “Rassyp’tes’, molodtsy, za kamni i kusty…”: zhizn’ i sud’ba evreev-kantonistov v Ekaterinburge. 1843–1858 gg. [“Hey, Guys, Hide behind Stones and Bushes…”: The Life and Fate of Jewish Soldiers in Yekaterinburg, Russia: 1843–1858]. In Vestnik arkhivista. No. 2, pp. 555–568. DOI 10.28995/2073-0101-2021-2-555-568.
Zelenina, G. S. (2012). “Vsya zhizn’ sredi knig”: sovetskoe evreistvo na puti ot Biblii k biblioteke [“All Life Among Books”: Soviet Jewry on the Path from the Bible to the Library]. In Gosudarstvo, religiya, tserkov’ v Rossii i za rubezhom. No. 3–4 (30), pp. 60–85.