Dispatches from Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Region
Courtesy of Masha Gessen
Seventy-five years ago, 600 Jews from Ukraine and Belarus traveled across Siberia to be the first settlers of Birobidzhan, a Jewish autonomous region 50 miles short of the Chinese border. To research a book she’s writing on the would-be homeland for Nextbook Press, journalist Masha Gessen retraced their path across Russia. She arrived at a train station marked by “two signs, one in Hebrew letters and one in Russian,” she writes on Slate. “The Hebrew faces the tracks, and though it is a fair bet that virtually no one on the Trans-Siberian can read it, it communicates all the necessary information. (I assume it says Birobidzhan, but I can’t read it, either.)” The mountainous region is by turns rocky, wet, and crowded with insects, all factors which made the establishment of Birobidzhan no less than “the worst good idea ever.”
Jewish Mother Russia [Slate]
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.