Jewish Russia with Vladimir Ivanov

Jewish Russia with Vladimir Ivanov


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After the partition of Poland in the eighteenth century, during the reign of Catherine the Great, the Russian Empire acquired the largest Jewish community in the world (67% of Jews). Even today, the Jewish population in Russia nears almost 200,000. The history of Jewish Russia is an endless field for investigation; this seminar will cover the milestones in Jewish history, as well as the most fascinating sites to visit.

Giving an overview of the history of the Jewish community of Russia, we will focus both on pre-revolutionary and Soviet history. We will discuss the Hassidic movement and non-Ashkenazi Jewish communities in the Caucasus and Central Asia, anti-Jewish pogroms of the early twentieth century, and the struggle for equality as part of the revolutionary movement. Exploring peculiarities of Soviet national policy, we will see why the Soviets established the “Jewish Autonomous Region” on the border with China (still existing as part of the Russian Federation), and what was behind the mass emigration of Jews from the country in the 1970-80s.

We’ll then move on to an exploration of Jewish sites in St Petersburg. We’ll explore the majestic Grand Choral Synagogue (with its unexpected Sephardic style), places where Marc Chagall worked, lived, and invented his flying figures, and, finally, vast Jewish collections of the Ethnographic Museum.

The seminar is led by St-Petersburg-based art-historian Vladimir Ivanov who worked as a keeper of medieval Jewish manuscripts in the Public Library. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with increased knowledge of two-hundred years of love and hatred between Russians and Jews.

Holding an MA in Classics, Vladimir is an author of a book called “Inspired by outer space: images of the future in late Soviet architecture” and a key contributor to TASCHEN's edition "CCCP: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed". Vladimir has written articles on contemporary art for local media, done podcasts on photography and the Russian revolution. He has also curated a number of exhibitions, including "The Cradle of the Faith: Christian Presence in the Middle East" in New Michael Palace and "Lingua Sacra" in the Imperial Public Library. Currently, he is doing architectural walks in St Petersburg and shares his vast knowledge of arts through the tours of the Hermitage and Russian museums.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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