Anti-Semitism vs Anti-Religion

In “Stalin’s Forgotten Zion”, there is quite a bit of discussion about the Russification of Jewish people in the J.A.R. By the late stages of the Soviet Union, there were barely any bits of Judaism left: no schools taught Yiddish, there were no celebrations of festivals or holidays, and even the way they dressed had been Russified. It was nearly a complete loss of culture. While it was not abnormal for the Soviet Union to be so against religion, the Jewish population was treated especially poorly by the government by forcing them into one area and dismantling their culture. Do you think that this erasure of Jewish culture was because the Soviet Union was so anti-religion? Or, do you think it could have been because of the historical anti-semitism seen throughout Europe since the early ages?

2 Replies to “Anti-Semitism vs Anti-Religion”

  1. I think this is a very interesting question! With my answer being a little bit of both. So as we have read about this before: Soviet Russia tended to fall into colonial traps because of their ambition to unify and be a global super power. I think the previous regime’s anti semitic tendencies definitely carried over (200+ years of state mandated anti-Semitism does nothing to help the cause). What I mean to say is people who were antisemitic before the revolution were probably still antisemitic after. Then, having a state that does not recognize religion further exasperates the erasure.

  2. I feel that it is the deeply rooted antisemitism planted in European history that caused them to deconstruct the Jewish Culture. Historically, Jewish people were excluded and sought out to be destroyed in Russia (ironically) by the Russian Orthodox Church and people of higher power such as tsars(government) and nobles. The idea that Jewish people were unwanted “others” never went away, but instead it was carried throughout the decades and further targeted. What was coined as “weaken[ing] popular antisemitism” (pg 18) was really a mask for isolating and weakening the Jewish socioeconomic structure by segregated families from the general public and making them till to agricultural land. However, I do believe that the anti-religion ideology of the Soviet Union factored in as well.

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