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The University of Michigan Library provides access to these materials for educational and research purposes. These materials may be under copyright. If you decide to use any of these materials, you are responsible for making your own legal assessment and securing any necessary permission. If you have questions about the collection, please contact the Bentley Historical Library at bentley.ref@umich.edu

September 06, 2002 - Image 145

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-09-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I

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buried in a common grave of victims
of Stalin's repressions, located in the
Donskoi cemetery.
Most also addressed the issue of
anti-Semitism in contemporary Russia.
They also laid a wreath at the grave of
Solomon Mikhoels, the chairman of
the Anti-Fascist Committee, who was
killed in a staged car accident on
orders from Stalin in 1948.
At the beginning of perestroika, the
restructuring" of Soviet society
launched by Mikhail Gorbachev in the
mid-1980s, the tragedy of the Jewish
Anti-Fascist Committee was the
underlying theme of many Jewish cul-
tural endeavors.
Newspaper articles, archival research
and exhibitions about the committee
and its leader were among the first
signs of a reawakened Jewish con-
sciousness in Russia.
In 1992, a black granite plaque was
unveiled at the Moscow building that
once housed the committee's offices. It
was the first Jewish memorial erected
in Moscow since World War II.
The dedication of the sign, which
took place on the 40th anniversary of
the tragedy, was one of the first out-
door Jewish events in Moscow in
years, recalls Matvei Geizer, the author
of several books about Mikhoels.
A small detail made the sign an even
more powerful symbol. In addition to
the Russian text commemorating-the
murdered members of the Anti-Fascist
Committee, the plaque featured a meno-
rah and the word "gedenk," Yiddish for
remember" — something many Jews
never imagined seeing in a public place
during the days of Soviet repression.
"Some predicted the plaque would
not last even five days, and it would
be quickly smeared," Geizer said.
"This hasn't happened in 10 years."
Geizer said people would come from
all across Moscow to see the sign. Yet
hopes for a true revival of Yiddish cul-
ture in Russia have not materialized,
decades after the murder of the last
generation of Soviet Jewish poets.
"Jewish culture in Russia did revive,
but it took very different forms," said
Alla Gerber, a writer and president of
the Holocaust Foundation. "The cul-
ture that was murdered by Stalin
remains only in our memory."
Those interested in a comprehensive
account of the Kremlin's machinery of
destruction and Stalin's anti-Semitic
campaign would do well to consult
the recently p9.1:;lished Stalin's Secret
Pogrom (Yale University Press; $35),
edited by Joshua Rubinstein and
Vladimir P. Naumov.
The book presents an abridged ver-

"

"

sion of the long-suppressed transcript
of the trial of the leaders of the Jewish
Anti-Fascist Committee and interviews
with relatives of the defendants in
Israel, Russia and the United States.

— Lev Krichevsky and Sharon Samber
Jewish Telegraphic Agency

U-M Judaica Collection

Even before the American Revolution,
Jews of the New World had begun to
publish their own prayer books and
religious texts.
Among the volumes of American
Judaica at the University of Michigan's
Clements Library is the 1766 publica-
tion Prayers for Shabbath, Rosh-
Hashanah, and Kippur. This is consid-
ered the first substantial book of its kind
printed in America and the first imprint
to carry the Jewish calendar year.
Isaac Pinto (1720-89), editor of the
work, was a merchant, teacher and
interpreter who translated many of
the prayers from their original
Spanish. Pinto's work was an attempt
to explain Jewish traditions to those
unfamiliar with them, and a means of
providing prayers in English for those
who could not read Hebrew.
The earliest known Jewish immi-
grants to present-day U.S. territory
were a group of 18 persons who came
to Dutch New Amsterdam from
Brazil in 1654. By the middle of the
18th century, sizable Jewish commu-
nities had sprung up in Newport,
Philadelphia, Charleston and
Savannah. The majority was of
Spanish and Portuguese ancestry,
hence Pinto's translation "According
to the Order of the Spanish and
Portuguese Jews."
Among the other items in the
Clements Library are correspondence
of the great Jewish merchants of the
Revolutionary War period; letters of
Rebecca Gratz; an 18th-century deed
for a synagogue in Philadelphia; and
published works of Mordecai Noah
and Isaac Lesser.
The library also has a 1735 Hebrew
grammar published by Judah Monis.
A Jew by birth, Monis had converted
to Christianity by the time he pub-
lished his grammars. He argued the
divinity of Christ on the basis of
Hebrew Scripture.
The Clements Library, located on
U-M's Central Campus in Ann Arbor
on South University Street is open 9-
11:45 a.m. and 1-4:45 p.m. Monday-
Friday. Those interested in viewing
American Judaica can enter the library
through the north entrance to the
lower level reading room.



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145

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