Posts tagged government.

For some time the government has given its attention to the Jews and to their problems and their relations to the rest of the inhabitants of the empire, with a view of ascertaining the sad condition of the Christian inhabitants brought about by the conduct of the Jews in business matters. During the last 20 years, the Jews have gradually possessed themselves of not only every trade and business in all its branches, but also of a great part of the land by buying or farming it. With few exceptions, they have as a body devoted their attention, not to enriching or benefiting the country, but to defrauding, by their wiles, its inhabitants, and particularly its poor inhabitants! This conduct of theirs has called forth protests on the part of the people, as manifested in acts of violence. The government, while on the one hand doing its best to put down the disturbances and to deliver the Jews from oppression and slaughter, has also on the other hand, thought it a matter of urgency and justice to adopt stringent measures in order to put an end to the oppression practiced by the Jews on the inhabitants, and to free the country from their malpractices, which were, as is known, the cause of the agitation.

Alexander III (1845-1894)

The Society (/League) for the Attainment of Full Civil Rights for the Jewish People in Russia, or Folksgrupe

Some more background on the Society (/League) for the Attainment of Full Civil Rights for the Jewish People in Russia, also known as Folksgrupe mentioned in this quotation.

SOCIETY FOR THE ATTAINMENT OF FULL CIVIL RIGHTS FOR THE JEWISH PEOPLE IN RUSSIA (Rus. “Soyuz dlya dostizheniya polnopraviya yevreyskogo naroda v Rossii”), a non-party organization which existed from 1905 to 1907, whose aim was declared in its name. The society organized the participation of Jews in the elections of the First and Second Duma, also obtaining legal aid for Jews after the pogroms of October 1905. […] It was decided: (1) to appoint a committee in which a delegate of the non-Jewish public would participate to investigate the pogroms and to demand that the guilty officials be dismissed and brought to justice; (2) to claim economic reparation from the government; and (3) to demand the release of Pinḥas Dashewski who was in prison for attacking the organizer of the Kishinev pogroms.


On the question of whether a Jewish national group should be established in the Duma, Vladimir Jabotinsky (speaking for the Zionists) and Dubnow were in favor of the proposal, but Vinaver and his followers opposed it violently. Political polarization of Jewish life broke up the society; Dubnow and M. Kreinin founded their party in 1906, and the Russian Zionist conference at Helsingfors decided that Zionists should contest elections under their own party banner. At a committee meeting in the spring of 1907 it was decided to abolish the society.

(via Jewish Virtual Library)


Folksgrupe (Yiddish: פאלקסגרופע, ‘People’s Group’ in English) was a Jewish Anti-Zionist political organization in Russia, founded at a meeting in Vilna in March 1905. […] Its followers were known as Dostizhentsi (from Достижение, dostizheniye, ‘attainment’).

Led by three prominent lawyers, Maxim Vinaver, Oscar Gruzenberg and Henrik Sliozberg, it assembled liberal elements from the Cadet Party. The party demanded equal civic rights, abolishing laws imposing restrictions on Jews, linguistic rights (the right have access to Yiddish and Hebrew schooling) and independence of religious institutions. It did however not advocate national automony for the Jews.


Zionists and the Folkspartei leader Simon Dubnow came to accuse the group of favouring assilimation. Dubnow had belonged to the group at its initial stage, and formed part of its central bureau. The party was however able to find common ground and some cooperation with the Bund, in their opposition to Zionism.

(via Wikipedia)
  November 28, 2011 at 09:17pm

Photo by Natasha Sharymova

(via russkayaliteratura)

Joseph Brodsky (1940–1996)

Iosif Alexandrovich Brodsky was reviled and persecuted in his native Soviet Union, but the Western literary establishment lauded him as one of that country’s finest poets. From the time he began publishing his verse—both under his own name, and under the name Joseph Brodsky—which was characterized by ironic wit and a spirit of fiery independence, Brodsky aroused the ire of Soviet authorities; he was also persecuted because he was a Jew. He was brought to trial for “parasitism,” and a smuggled transcript of that trial helped bring him to the attention of the West, for he answered his interrogators with courageous and articulate idealism. Brodsky was condemned to a Soviet mental institution and later spent five years in Arkhangelsk, an Arctic labor camp.

According to a Times Literary Supplement reviewer, Brodsky’s poetry “is religious, intimate, depressed, sometimes confused, sometimes martyr-conscious, sometimes elitist in its views, but it does not constitute an attack on Soviet society or ideology unless withdrawal and isolation are deliberately construed as attack: of course they can be, and evidently were.” According to a reviewer in Time, the poet’s expulsion from Russia was “the culmination of an inexplicable secret-police vendetta against him that has been going on for over a decade.” Brodsky said: “They have simply kicked me out of my country, using the Jewish issue as an excuse.” The vendetta first came to a head in a Leningrad trial in 1964, when Brodsky was charged with writing “gibberish” instead of doing honest work; he was sentenced to five years hard labor. Protests from artists and writers helped to secure his release after eighteen months, but his poetry still was banned. Israel invited him to immigrate, and the government encouraged him to go; Brodsky, though, refused, explaining that he did not identify with the Jewish state. Finally, Russian officials insisted that he leave the country. Despite the pressures, Brodsky reportedly wrote to Leonid Brezhnev before leaving Moscow asking for “an opportunity to continue to exist in Russian literature and on Russian soil.” 

Brodsky’s poetry bears the marks of his confrontations with the Russian authorities. “Brodsky is someone who has tasted extremely bitter bread,” wrote Stephen Spender in New Statesman, ”and his poetry has the air of being ground out between his teeth… . It should not be supposed that he is a liberal, or even a socialist. He deals in unpleasing, hostile truths and is a realist of the least comforting and comfortable kind. Everything nice that you would like him to think, he does not think. But he is utterly truthful, deeply religious, fearless and pure. Loving, as well as hating.” 

Brodsky observed, “Language and, presumably, literature are things that are more ancient and inevitable, more durable than any form of social organization. The revulsion, irony, or indifference often expressed by literature toward the state is essentially the reaction of the permanent—better yet, the infinite—against the temporary, against the finite… . The real danger for a writer is not so much the possibility (and often the certainty) of persecution on the part of the state, as it is the possibility of finding oneself mesmerized by the state’s features which, whether monstrous or undergoing changes for the better, are always temporary.” 

Exile was always difficult for Brodsky. In one poem, he described an exiled writer as one “who survives like a fish in the sand.” Yet despite these feelings, Brodsky was largely unmoved by the sweeping political changes that accompanied the fall of the Soviet Union. He told David Remnick of the Washington Post that those changes were “devoid of autobiographical interest” for him, and that his allegiance was to his language. In the Detroit Free Press, Bob McKelvey cited Brodsky’s declaration from a letter: “I belong to the Russian culture. I feel part of it, its component, and no change of place can influence the final consequence of this. A language is a much more ancient and inevitable thing than a state. I belong to the Russian language.”

(via The Poetry Foundation)

Title: Ekh Lyuli Lyuli #4: The Night of the Murdered Poets 10 plays

Ekh Lyuli Lyuli #4: The Night of the Murdered Poets
Air date: August 16, 2011 - 4pm EST

I weep for you with all the letters of the alphabet
that made your hopeful songs.
— from Chaim Grade’s “Elegy for the Soviet Yiddish Writers” 

59 years ago on August 12, 1952, Stalin ordered the execution of 13 Soviet Jews, many of them Yiddish writers, poets, critics, and thinkers, on false charges of treason and espionage. The event is referred to as The Night of the Murdered Poets and regarded by some as the successful destruction of post-war Yiddish literature and culture in the Soviet Union. This episode of Ekh Lyuli Lyuli commemorates the event with history on the trial and defendants, as well as audio from Eli Wallach narrates August 12, 1952: The Night of the Murdered Poets, featuring the poetry and writings of the murdered Soviet Jews and music composed by Morris Moshe Cotel.

Download the podcast.

  October 11, 2011 at 10:00am

Fiddler on the Roof

  • Lebisch: Rabbi! May I ask you a question?
  • Rabbi: Certainly, Lebisch!
  • Lebisch: Is there a proper blessing... for the Tsar?
  • Rabbi: A blessing for the Tsar? Of course! May God bless and keep the Tsar... far away from us!