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Behavior Unbecoming a Communist: Jewish Religious Practice in Soviet Minsk Author(s): Elissa Bemporad Source: Jewish Social Studies

, New Series, Vol. 14, No. 2 (Winter, 2008), pp. 1-31 Published by: Indiana University Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 05/05/2013 02:49
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Behavior Unbecoming a Communist: Jewish Religious Practice in Soviet Minsk
By focusing on Minsk, a historicJewish demographic, religious, and political center in pre-revolutionary Russia and capital of the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic after 1919, this article examines two aspects ofJewish religious practice in the interwar period: the production of kosher meat, and the practice of circumcision. As the persistence of kosher butchering and circumcision during the 1920s and mid-1950s reveals, Jewish life did not change radically in the immediate aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution; even some of the most devoted Communists maintained an allegience to specificfeatures ofJewish self-identification. A study of religious practice in this Soviet city provides a window into thefragmented lives of post-1917 Russian Jews, illuminating the complexity of their acculturation into Soviet society and showing that religious identification was common and multifaceted. Key words: Minsk, kosher butchering, circumcision

between the Low Market and Cathedral Square, and home to numerous pre-Revolutionary Jewish religious and communal institutions, the Jewish quarter of Minsk, also Situated known as Nemiga, was the arena of a violent clash in the spring of 1922. The conflict broke out between two factions of the local Jewish population. On one side were the students and faculty of the Jewish Pedagogical Training College, or Evpedtekhnikum, a Soviet institution intended for the creation of a cadre of communist teachers who would serve as instructors in the newly established network of Yiddish ElissaBemporad,"Behavior Unbecoming a Communist:ReligiousPractice
in Soviet Minsk,*1Jewish Social Studies: History, Culture, Society n.s. 14, no. 2

(Winter 2008): 1-31

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Jewish Social Studies • Vol. 14 No. 2

schools in the city and district of Minsk. The founders of the Evpedtekhnikumset up the new SovietJewish institution in a twostory brick building located at the intersection between Rakovskaia and Zamkovaia Streets,or, as the Jewsused to call it in Yiddish,Shlos the tradigas.This had been the building of the city'sTalmud-Torah, tionalJewishschool built by the localJewishcommunityfor the eduBecause of its location in a cation of the poorest children in Minsk.1 wasthe idealvenue denselypopulatedJewisharea, the Talmud-Torah for spreadingcommunismon theJewishstreet. The other participantsin the strife were ordinaryresidentsof the artisans,and small peddlers,most of Jewishquarter:mainlyworkers, whomwere committed to someJewish religiouspracticesand probably angry at Communistofficials for confiscating their synagogues Whether they and transformingthem into clubs and warehouses.2 werestrictlyobservantor lenient in their adherencetoJudaism,these as "petitbourgeois"residents of Nemiga viewed the Talmud-Torah their own collective property,which they and their ancestors had used since its establishmentin the earlynineteenth century.They exby enpressedtheir resentmentoverthe seizure of the Talmud-Torah tering the building'scourtyardand disruptingclasses.3 On May7, 1922,the studentsof the new PedagogicalTrainingCollege tried to chase out of the Communist institution a number of youngjewswho had steppedinto the building uninvited.When asked - as they were referredto in the offito leave, the young "criminals" cial report of the clash began to throw stones at the students and 's building.As soon as the "redstuthe windowsof the Talmud-Torah and came to blowswith him, a dents"caught one of the "criminals" Streetin heated largegroupof local residentsgatheredon Rakovskaia protest.Accordingto one witness,a hundred people surroundedthe echoed are thrashingchildren" building,and shoutsof "Communists throughoutthe street.The uproarceased only when YudlFrankfurt, the Training College's director, instructed the students to end the fighting and return to the courtyard.The "rededucator"shut the gate, and the restlesscrowdslowlydisbursed.4 The Nemigastrifecan be seen as a microcosmof the civilwar that eruptedin the midstof theJewishurbanpopulation,followingthe Boland opponentsof the newSoviet betweensupporters shevikRevolution, to it wouldbe inaccurate As intenseas thisconflictwas,however, system. irrethe viewits outcomeas the suddendemiseof religious Judaismand versibleruptureof Russian Jewishsocietyinto two entirelyseparateenthe newCommunist Jewishelite,on the one hand,and the campments: on the other.Althoughthe clashbetween "ancien observant regime"Jew,

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was taken byjust one seg- This content downloaded from 129. mainly amongJewish CommunistPartymembers.211.communism and thosewho resentedthe new thoseJewswho supported influencedthe Sovietization processof the Jewish systemsignificantly andfamily-related) cameinto [3] otherfactors(social.the new preclusion outsidethe ComBolshevik statebannedJewishpoliticalorganizations munistParty.Lenin'sgovernmentextended to of civilrights.and political center in pre-revolutionary this Elissa of the BelorussianSoviet SocialistRepublicafterJanuary1919. and Jewish conversion to nonintegrationmeant escaping religious as well as cultural Jewishness. and yield to the MarxistUtopianvision of the "mergingof nations." and political Jewishparticularity.98.theyrushedintogovernment positionsand stateinstitutionsof higherlearning. kine hasnoted.and argue that the relationship between party allegiance and family loyaltywas a complex dialecticof struggleand compromise. wither away national identitywould eventually.and.Sons and daughtersrebelled against their fathers'and mothers'cultural. manyJews eagerlyembracedthe new possibilities. especially Practicein By using the case study of Minsk. life in the 1920sand playand shapedthe dynamicsof Jewisheveryday JewishReligious in the areasof the formerPaleof Settlement. Jewish patricide.6 in the Sovietsystem. the Bolshevikrevolutionary regime offered those or sociallytaintedas bourgeoisor nationJewswhowerenot politically into a universal.5 article will focus on two aspects of Jewish religious practice.cultural.ending theirdecades-long mostRussian Jewsa widearray fromsocialintegration. which made the production of kosher meat possible.aboveall. population. it will examine the practice of circumcision. continued to function in the interwarperiod.integratedinto Sovietsociety.and destroyedautonomous cial organizations. mid-1930s.religiousbackgrounds.Confrontedwith their sudden inclusion into the As YuriSlezstate.political." With regardto the Bemporad in a Soviet will look at the persistenceof kosherbutchering (shehitah) capital and show how a number of traditionalJewish institutions. At its inception.a historicJewish demographic. of theirJewishidentity. Butwhileopening itsdoors. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions ." Jewish social rise.First.and came to formthe backbone For thoseJewswho partookin "the of "thenew Sovietintelligentsia.ascribedby SlezButthis path to acculturation kine to an entire generationof SovietJews.27 on Sun. classless alistfull-fledgedmembership societyin which in the distantfuture. Second. SovietMinsk Russiaand capital religious.prevented Jewishreligiousinstitutionsfrom functioning Jewishculturaland sofreelyand thriving.for the firsttime open to themwithoutquotas from anyvestige and readilydissociatedthemselves or discrimination. albeit in a customized Soviet fashion.

Yiddish activists. The transformation pre-revolutionary life. with lines of the preservation of lessevidentand moresubtle continuity core of of the Jewish Jewishlife. A glimpse into the us to graspwhateludes us from the overallview. and socialnormsand expressions In his discussionon the intricaterelationshipbetween micro-and CarloGinzburghas noted that "aclose-uplook allows macro-histories.whetherformerBundists.were neighbors.even some of the mostdevotedCommunists Geography legiance to specific features of Jewish self-identification.whichhad a considerable proportion of Jews and were located on the pre-1917 territoryof designated Jewishresidence. thata numberof wipedout by the Revolution.while as anti-communism.politicalZionists.and they attemptedto walkthe fine line betweenacceptedSovietbehavior ofJewishparticularity.27 on Sun.the responseto the Bolshevikemancipationproject as antiin the 1920sand 1930swasnot circumscribed by "communism In otherwords.manyJews. actorsin the Nemiga strife knew each other.Becausestaunchsupportersof the new regime and its antagonistshappened to live togetherunder the same roof or on the same streetand had to deal with the conflictingpressuresof these soaffectedeach other'slives.whichresidedmainlyin the twoRussian Moscow and Leningrad. onlyconformity The Soviet Korobkaand the UndergroundEducationalSystem Foundedin February1921." and "Jewishness Jewishness" adaptingto the new system. the medium-to-large urbancenters.impingedon the intensity and facilitated the Communistprojecttook hold of the Jewishstreet."7 Judaismin a SovietcityrevealsthatJewishlife did practiceof religious in the immediateaftermathof the Revnot changeradically overnight.the Union of Congregantsof Synagogues and Houses of Prayerin Minsk(Soiuzprikhozhanevreiskikhsinagog i molitvennykhdomov v Minske)became the official body responsible for supportingJewish religious practice in the Belorussiancapi- This content downloaded from 129.promptingnot cial settings.or Russified liberals.[4] Jewish Social Studies • Vol.they inevitably withbut also deviancefromSovietsocialnorms.or were even relatives.211. 2 mentof theJewishpopulation.98. maintainedan alolution. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .religiouspracticing Jews.of which dietary laws and circumcisionwere crucial aspects occurred at a slowerpace in Minskthan in Moscowalso because of preexisting social networksand family ties that were not suddenly Wemayassume.remainedcommittedto some expressionsof Jewishness.and in the newSovietindustrial metropolises. In manyof hubsthatemergedoutsideof the formerPaleof Settlement. withwhich curbedthe Sovietization process. 14 fact.

Jewish communities throughout Russia had imposed on their members as an indirect levy on kosher meat. higher education. and medicine.8 Besides safeguarding the city's synagogues and mikvah (ritual bath house) and obtaining matzah flour for the Passover holiday. Point two of its statute asserted the importance of fulfilling "the needs of those who observe the laws of kashrut. First.13 A second function of what might be called the "red korobka"was to support the network of underground religious educational institutions. the union served another key function. a mashgiah. made sure that the slaughtering process strictly abided byJewish dietary laws and collected a tax on each animal slaughtered according to the ritual. 1922. and the meat was sold to the local Soviet food cooperatives at a higher cost than nonkosher meat.10 The korobka system was fundamentally unaffected by the Revolution and retained the same modus operandi of its pre-1917equivalent.211. which administered the levy. Yet the tax enabled the community to meet its debts to the state and to private creditors as well as to set aside enough funds to renovate synagogue buildings.or ritual slaughterers. it represented the primary (and typically only) source of income for rabbis. and finance communal institutions and welfare associations. Together with members of the pre-revolutionary political elite. religious functionaries were included in the notorious lishchentsy or disenfranchised persons lists and were officially deprived of Soviet electoral rights. As lishchentsy. the new Soviet korobka was intended for internal Jewish activities only.27 on Sun. The Union of Congregants relied on the same traditional taxation system that. former officers. as it was in the nineteenth century. and the less well-to-do Jews who had to deal with the financial burden. worked under the supervision of the city's rabbi. for many decades. These sprung up in Minsk following the Soviet ban of June 27.tal. The shohtim.or ritual supervisor. they became social outcasts and had restricted access to employment. housing.12Such limitations affected entire families.98. look after cemeteries. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions ."9 Consuming kosher meat and fowl during the 1920s was relativelyuncomplicated in Minsk. Under the direct authority of the Minsk Executive Committee. the union counted 155 members (most of them Jewish religious leaders) at the time of its establishment. [5] JewishReligious Practicein SovietMinsk Elissa Bemporad This content downloaded from 129. It served two main functions. Known as korobka (or "little box"). this tax had been the source of constant friction between the Jewish community's leadership.11 No longer designed to pay for state tax arrears. and high-ranking bureaucrats in the tsarist state service. The proceeds of ritual slaughtering were then divided between the ritual slaughterers and the rabbi. even if only one member had been disenfranchised.

the young MosheZvi Neriyah (who would later become a prominent rabbinic figure in the Yishuv and the State of Israel) left his native Poland in 1926 to study Torah in the Minsk yeshivah at a time when Jewish religious education was considered obsolete in other Soviet cities. Born in Lodz in 1913.98. Under the leadership of Rabbi Yehoshua Tsimbalist.Afterall.27 on Sun. By 1929 the number was still significant. the Minsk yeshivah was the largest one in the Soviet Union. yeshivahs. Tsimbalist established an underground yeshivah in the women's section of the Shoavei Mayim synagogue.18 A yeshivah ketanah (lower-level yeshivah) was set up on Staro-Vilenskaia Street. or Council of Rabbis of the USSR.16 students."14 Although this decree represented a blow to Jewish religious education.[6] Jewish Social Studies • Vol. There were 400 pupils studying in the Minsk underground heders in 1926. possible? is connectedto the dangersof arrestand deportation. they by Something They neverimaginedthat therewasstill such a place.200 rubles a month. it did not put an end to it.17 It attracted students from throughout the Soviet territory as well as from neighboring Poland. the rest was raised within the city.21 This content downloaded from 129. also known as Rabbi Horodner (a native of Grodno who moved to Minsk during World War I).From such activity wheredoes one find the courageand strengthto do such things?20 Yeshivahs and heders enjoyed clandestine financial support from the American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). Minsk received from the JDC only 826 rubles a month. According to the 1926-27 reports of the Vaad Rabane SSR. As for the heders. located on ZamkoWith 70 vaia Street. 2 when the Council of People's Commissariats of Belorussia sanctioned "the closing down of all existing heders. amounting to 324. and TalmudTorahs. albeit underground. the 1929 report of the Vaad Rabane SSR confirms that JDC relief amounted to just 30 percent of the budget for religious education. Ten students came from outside Minsk. In 1924. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Not only was tuition free but the students were also provided meals. but the amount provided from the outside was not adequate to sustain a similar enterprise.15 Jewish religious education underwent a substantial resurgence.19As Neriyah observed: wouldcome to Minskand be surprised Rabbisfromother citiesin Russia of this naturein a time like this?Howis that what saw. One of them recalled that Minsk families would invite them over for the Sabbath and serve herring and challah.211. near the building of the former Talmud-Torah. with 20 pupils whose ages ranged between 12 and 15. the financial need to support the educational institutions amounted to more than 2. 14 No.

211. comer'sslaughteringmethod did not meet the religiousstandardsset by Rabbi Gluskin.24 gious educationalinstitutions The ShohtimTrial .especiallythose who came fromother citiesand could not count on theirfamilies).profitsfrom kosherbutchsystem.98.they viewed the performanceof this ritual as ideologicallyrepulsive.000 House of Culture.and shelterto had the newmovedto the BelorussiancapitalfromVitebsk. with room and board?"23 It was 1927. .the continuedexistenceof these institutions dependedlargelyon the korobka During the 1920sand early1930s.was people. Not allowed to be part of the official butchers' [7] JewishReligious Practicein SovietMinsk Elissa Bemporad This content downloaded from 129. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . .25 Takingadvantageof whatseems to havebeen organnothing more than a skirmishbetweenshohtim.The korobka systemand the undergroundeducationalnetworkwere so deeply entrenchedin the dailylife of the citythatthe dividebetweenpermissible wassometimespuzzlingand blurryfor cityresidents and impermissible At a Minskconferenceof non-party themselves.fiveyearsafter the officialclosing down of allJewishreliin the city."a group of 25 Minskritual slaughtererswho workedunder the supervisionof the main rabbiof the city.primarilybecause it createda source of income for the rabbis. who are being supported yeshivahs Both questionswereaskedin all seriousness.26 gogue. parentscould paygiven the duressof the economic situationand the outlawingof a largechunkof privatetradeand business.Yankev-Tevye accusedof the attemptedmurderof anothershohet.In their struggleagainst clericalism.or at least showlittle Althoughthe Sovietsystemseemed to tolerate interestin the kosherbutcheringbusiness.the Evsektsiia ized a show-trialagainst the so-called "Gluskin trust. the head of the shohtim-trust. Droykin. and "Arethe authoritiesawareof the existence of gally or illegally?" with large numbersof students. the leaders of the local Evsektsiia (theJewishSection of the CommunistParty)attemptedto bring the shohtim'sactivitiesto an end throughintimidation.22 whichfew ering coveredtuitionexpensesand teachers'compensation. Jewishworkers. in the locale of the former Chorale Synain front of 3.27 on Sun.In additionto the supportfromtheJDCand the cooperationof local Jews (whoperpetuatedthe EastEuropean Jewishcustomof providing meals. now the JewishWorkers' Rapoport.27 Apparently. In early March 1925. during in writingto the whichthe practicewasto submitqueriesanonymously twoquestionswereasked:"Dothe Minskhedersoperatelepresidium.MenachemMendlGluskin(1887-1943).

the play depicted Rabbi Gluskin as the wealthy city villain who monopolized the production of kosher meat throughout the Belorussian capital.98."30 The trial. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . .211. 14 No. or. . by charging less (only 5-10 kopecks for one chicken instead of the 15-20 kopecks charged by Rapoport)." Although Rabbi Gluskin and strictly Orthodox Jews could not accept as kosher the cattle and fowl slaughtered by Droykin (who almost certainly did not make use of the rabbi's ritual supervisor. . in the beys-medresh.received extensive coverage in the local and foreign press. its persistence.29Whether they purchased the meat because of its lower price or because of their poor knowledge of the laws and customs of kosher butchering. twenty years before the Revolution. Fridman. underworld Jews. artisans. and workers were cross-examined as witnesses. shohtim. many consumers did. shopkeepers. luftmenschen.32Rabbis. the Minsk shohtim trial also reveals.28 In addition. bourgeois society . and who possibly did not comply with the strict rules pertaining to the knife used and the postmortem examination of the animal). Together with the initial collapse of kosher meat production. Tseytlin and Gurevitch. with Yiddish folk songs and traditional religious melodies.[8] Jewish Social Studies • Vol.27 on Sun. . Shimshelievitsh. which began at six o'clock in the evening on Saturdayafter the end of the Sabbath. it also became the subject of a musical satire in Yiddish by the worker and aspiring playwright M. Droykin joined another group of shohtim who operated independently from the rabbi's supervision and sold their product to the same cooperatives that purchased kosher meat from the shohtim working for Gluskin. 2 trust. This content downloaded from 129. . as the MoscowYiddish daily Derernes them. Recounting the trial for the WarsawYiddish newspaper Moment."33 defined The Jews of Nemiga. . dayanim (scholars of Talmud law). The shohtim were represented by the best lawyers in the city. perhaps more interestingly. As a journalist from Warsaw remarked. Possibly the first show-trial in the Soviet Union against Jewish ritual slaughter. their action represented the first stage in the breakdown of the historic monopoly of rabbis over the consumption of meat among Jews. Performed on the stage of a number of workers' clubs in and around reporter pointed out that the rabbinic terminology used to describe the ritual slaughtering process and the talmudic intonation of both the prosecutors and the defendants could have easily deceived the audience: "If you close your eyes you might feel like you are somewhere in a shtetl.31 The language of the trial was Yiddish. the Droykin group became a threatening competitor for the "Gluskin trust. "the foundation of the black market . "the shohtim trial disclosed aspects of Jewish life that we thought had already disappeared. sha~ mashim(sextons).

on furtherinspection.. [and] the Jewishcounter-Revolution.. ridiculedthe insinuationsof religiouspersecutionin the USSRconjuredup abroad..Rather. withoutviolent measures.36 and sentencedRapoportand his accomplices The Red ArmyEats KosherMeat hadindeedintended whichthe Evsektsiia In spiteof the 1925show-trial.contraband. .whowere"just "Thefact that religious Jewswish to eat koshermeat does not trouble do not wantto use and he assertedthat "[w]e us. LeymeRoznhoyz.CentralWorkers' BelorussianMeat erativesof the city Cooperative.and Belorussian Agricultural cording to the Jewishmethod. the trialto compromisetheJewishstreet.they emphasizedthe criminalnatureof the the foreign press JewishReligious in declared."38 However.arefound to haveblemishes of the city. to prison.Shmuel talked about a new "Beilistrial. acUnion." workers and not on the shohtim.she had to go to one of the city'sfood cooperatives. . . Jewishness ber of shohtimoperatingthere.mostbeef cattlein the citywereslaughtered in the mainfood coopThe meatdistributed the rituallawsof kashrut. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . religionwill die out.. Drawingparallelswith Mendele MoykherSforim'sTakse (The writerseverely criticizedthe korobka institu. In our whichthe Yiddish tion. in the slaughterhouse."continuedRoznhoyz. and specificallyask the store The numberof cattlekilledthrough clerkfor fre)/("forbidden" meat)."35 thejudge emphasizedthe criminalnatureof the case.Weare not maskilimwho believe their main goal is to struggleagainstreligion. accordingto Byearly1928.the productionof koshermeatin Minskcontinuedto thrive.Practice SovietMinsk tions.repeatedlydisclaimed whomwere membersof the MinskEvsektsiia that the trialwasan attackon theJewishreligion."The public prosecutors and a thirdman namedVolobrinskii. Indeed. . as an instrumentto attackor at least to discourageritualslaughtering in the city. a portionof animalsslaughtered Moreprecisely. . throughshehitahusuallywoundup on the generalmarketbecauseof the prohibitionto consume "thesciaticnerve or the fattyportionsof the animal carcassas wellas animalsthat. .had been slaughtered Trade.approachthe shop's counter. when a housewifeplanned to purchasenonkoshermeat.forcing them to pay extra for koshermeat.98.211. Bemporad who oppressedpoorJews."34 .Elissa Tax).and the viabilityof kosherbutchering This content downloaded from 129. all of [9] Agursky. Zionism. In the final verdict..the numitwasthe historic or lesions.27 on Sun.37 exceeded the demandfor koshermeat because shehitahtraditionally of the specific dietary restrictionsconnected to kosher butchering. Agurskystated that all the blame should fall on RabbiGluskin.

Fortypercent of the ritualslaughterer's revenuewentto the rabbi. In fact. erinaryinspectorsof the animals.800-2.27 on Sun. ruble.determiningwhethertheyweremedor not. 14 No. (supervisors sometimesacting as the only vetworkingin the CitySlaughterhouse. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .43 With few exceptions. to reduce the productionof kosher meat in the city.[10] Jewish Social Studies • Vol. 2 under the Sovietsin the 1920sthat accountedfor the large numberof cattleslaughtered accordingto theJewishritual. at least.In an open letter published in Oktiaberin February1928. there was little opposition to the production of koshermeat on the part of localJews. In its resolution on slaughtering and meat production in Minsk.41 And the korobka.KhaymVilentshikinvitedRabbiGluskin to reimbursehim the extra money he paid in the course of several In anotherinstance yearsfor unknowinglypurchasingkoshermeat. a delegation of 40 Jewishworkingwomen signed a petition to the MinskCitySovietin which they condemned the extensive production of kosher meat.000 rublesa month. the existenceof which icallyfit for slaughter in 1925.he argued. Cooperative: "almostall employeesin the meat sector are former katsovim [butchers]/' Mostkoshermeat in the citywas sold with a stampcertifyingits ofJewishdietarylaws) There were mashgihim authenticity. or at least were accustomedto payinga higher price to bring it to their tables.the deputy people's commissarfor trade. wives did not organize a grass-rootscampaign against the rabbis demanding a just price for meat.46 In the effort to discontinueor. the commission demanded that "cattlenot intended for ko- This content downloaded from 129. "11years after the October Revolution.42 was had verymuch surprisedthe correspondent of Derernes the shohetreceivedone stillin effectin 1928. the absence of a popular protest indicates that a large proportionof Jewishwomen were willing to purchasekoshermeat. Even the Red Army.40 clusively the same article also complainedabout the absence of high-quality nonkoshermeatin the CentralWorkers' here. the local Evsektsiia appealed to the Central Bureauof theJewishSection of the CommunistPartyin Moscow."39 Union. A correspondent for the YiddishdailyOktiaber expressedhis outrage afterdiscoveringthat "[t]hewholepopulationof Minskis forcedto eat The BelorussianAgricultural kosher meat. The MoscowEvsektsiiacalled for the creation of a special commission under the leadershipof Bruskin.98.44 that same month.which correspondedto 1.Foreach cowslaughtered. the cooperativethat suppliedfoodstuffsto the Red Army. besides the abovementionedpetition (probably Jewishhousestaged by the trade union'sleadership)."45 Althoughwomenwere more likelyto engage in protestswhen the price of foodstuff was at issue.211.exThe authorof sold meat that had been slaughtered ritually.

for example.generallywithoutthe inspection of the rabbi's appointed mashgiah.49 Soviet authoritiesdid not resistreligious slaughteringwithin governmentalstructuresso long as it did not interferewith the "rationality" of production.whichhad ensuredfinancial By 1930. accordancewith the basicpreceptsof shehitah.Yetfor a significantproportion of Jewish consumerssuch meatwassufficientlykosher. local productionof koshermeat.Jewish Practicein tween kosherand nonkosherquality.Bemporad operativeassociationof workers)of the Disabled.The latterslaughteredthe cattle in the manner to which they wereaccustomed. 1928. eating habitsratherthan on religiousauthority.the official in charge of the manufacture of intestine productsat the CitySlaughterhouse. a group of shohtim refrainedfrom slaughteringthe entire quantityof beef cattle ordered by the three main food cooperativesin Minskbecause of the imminent adventof the Sabbath. In mid-April1928. On Friday.98.211. meat from cattle or fowl slaughteredwithout the supervisionof the rabbiwas not kosher.April 7.From the vantage point of OrthodoxJudaism.began selling a new koshermeat product. however.This combinationof the decline of the traditionalrole of the rabbiand the retentionof conventionalkosherslaughteringmethods based on dietarycustomsand generated a new kind of folk-kashrut. the Elissa Thirteenth CityCooperativein Nemiga.even withoutrabbiniccertification.the "redkorobka" supportfor the rabbisand the illegal educationalnetworkthroughout This content downloaded from 129. supportedthe proposal of the cooperative'schairman to process kosher sausages.48 SovietMinsk was far from securing its control over the The Evsektsiia. godly JerohamJudah Leib Perelman(1835-96).most shohtim continued to slaughtercattle following the traditionalrituals.The financial loss inflicted on the City by the shohtim'sdecision promptedthe party-cellto Slaughterhouse employformershohtim.sher consumptionshould not be killed in accordancewith [Jewish] There is no evidence that the city agencies actuallyenritual laws/*47 did [11] dorsed and carried out this resolution. and probablyno longer religious.but the MinskEvsektsiia achieve a small victory:the CentralWorkers' Cooperativeagreed to Religious open two shops in which meat would be sold without distinction be.27 on Sun. as slaughterers.who were now membersof the subsequently Butchers'Trade Union. also known as the Artel (co.Employedas state workers. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . The mashgiahin chargeof verifyingthat sausageproductionmet the standardsof kashrutwas none other than a relativeof the Minsker the greatscholarof Minskand famousnineteenth-century rabbi. Badras.50 The shift from religious supervisionover shehitah to state control symbolized the progressiveloss of rabbinic authority.

it most likely did not subside entirely.The regime's turn to rapid industrialization. generally undisturbed. state-employed former shohtim or unemployed religious shohtim slaughtered chickens throughout the mid-1930s.211. the driving force behind the underground educational network.the former Choral Synagogue and the same venue as the 1925 shohtimtrial. a small slaughterhouse for kosher fowl operated on Karl Libknekht Street. for good. his social background (he was a relative of the wealthy Wissotzky tea-merchant family). After all.the only man who in traditional Jewish society had regular contact with women.27 on Sun. massive food shortages in urban areas) made kosher butchering increasingly difficult.98.56 The public prosecutors .emphasized the relationship between the shohet's editor of Oktiaber religious beliefs.57 Whether as a consequence of the 1934 show-trial or because of the relentless assault on religious practice under Stalinism.the masterminds of the new Rapoport case were hoping to bring the kosher business in Minsk to a close. and Rabbi Tsimbalist. a significant proportion of which was almost certainly drawn by the lurid details of the alleged rapes. was accused of raping several young girls who had been sent by their mothers to the shohet with a chicken to slaughter.53 In April front of a large audience. 14 No. and the shohet performed the ritual slaughter.51 the Jewish method became almost impractical in the 1930s. 2 the 1920s. However. Rapoport was sentenced to eight years in prison.Leyme Roznhoyz. and a centralized economy (which caused.primarily because the government took control of food production and restricted cattle supply for religious purposes . Kosher meat was no longer available in the city's cooperatives. kosher butchering in Minsk was dealt a mortal blow and driven to the margins of even smaller underground circles. for example. began to collapse and slowly gave way. Minsk remained the This content downloaded from 129. the Minsk yeshivah was closed down in the early 1930s.[12] Jewish Social Studies • Vol. often in semi-private settings . forced collectivization.54Exploiting Jewish sexual anxieties associated with the figure of the shohet .55The show-trial took place April 2-4 in the locale of the Belorussian Yiddish State Theater . Soviet citizens brought their own chickens. and his sexual deviance. the demand for kosher fowl significantly declined during the 1930s. and chief commissar for education Khazkl Dunets. The butcher Yankev-TevyeRapoport. As late as 1934. managed to Whereas cattle slaughtering according to leave for Palestine in 1933. deputy people's . the same shohet indicted in the 1925 notorious shohtim trial. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .52 Upon the request of individual citizens. among other things. delegate of the Central and Committee of the League of the Militant Godless (bezbozhniki).kosher fowl was easily accessible.

He complainedabouthis son not being acceptedinto a local Soviet The reason. At first.the Yiddish kindergartenwas. not circumcised The archivescontain much evidence of Jewish CommunistParty The observanceof members who had theirnewbornsons circumcised. 1928.In fact.those who settled in Minsk preservedfamily bonds more often than not.The constant resultedin the persistinflux of this populationinto the cityprobably ence of kosherbutcheringin Minskin the second half of the 1930s. This content downloaded from 129.wasthathis son (presumYiddishkindergarten. [13] Althoughit is hard to ascertainhow manyof these new migrantswere observant. not the exception.addresseda letter to the Jewish Section of the CentralCommitteeof the CommunistPartyof Belorussia. thereforecomplicatingour understandingofJewishintegrationin Sovietsociety. it Practice SovietMinsk may have been easier to purchase kosher meat in the anonymityof the big city than in a smallshtetlwhereeveryoneknewwhateveryone Elissa unlike mostJewswho moved to faraway Bemporad else wasdoing.he stated.98.58 To Circumciseor Not to Circumcise? workerOrman. thiswasprobably attendedthatYiddishkindergarten.employedin On September19.the Evsektsiia. Moscow. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .the construction a Minskstate factory.the possibility ablyborn in 1922)had not been circumcised.During the 1920sand early 1930s. chieflybecause of the geographicproximitybetween their shtetlor cityof origin and the Belorussiancapital.As a Sovietinstitution. text of the widespreadobservanceof thisJewishpracticeallowsus to reconsiderthe nature of this case.59 of such a case occurringin the late 1920sin the capitalof a SovietRepublic might seem highly is fair to saythata numberof them came from JewishReligious religiously in traditionalhomes and abidedby certain religiouspractices.This norm could have led someJews to view with disfavor Jewishchildrenwho had not been circumcised. at least in theory.circumcisingone's son was the norm among SovietJews.211.27 on Sun. However.Afterall.destinationof a large and steadymigration movementof thousands of Jews from the surroundingprovincialcities and shtetlswho relocated to the capitalin searchof employmentand a better livelihood. tions an atheisticapproachto the worldand a passionatecriticismof letter within the conviewingthe worker's religiousbeliefs. Furthermore.and it could even havebeen sharedby the personnelof a SovietYiddishkindergarthe firsttime thatajewishchildwhowas ten. committed to conveyingto the youngergenerationthe idealsof communismand the rulesand princiwhich includedamong the core foundaples of good Sovietbehavior.

. In other cases."60 cases.61 Twoobservationsseem necessaryprior to the examinationof specific cases of circumcision. As the vanguardof Sovietsociand theirconety. 2 religiousritualswasconsideredespeciallydeviantwhen carriedout by wereprofessional revolutionaries well partymembers.theiradherenceto partydisciplinehad to be flawless formityto Sovietpracticeunconditional.First.62 found difficultto renounce. "The performanceof circumcisions who are membersof the Communist Partyand are emamongworkers ployedin the factoriesof the cityof Minskis so widespreadthat it has In most assumeda 'chroniccharacter' .who supposedly versedin the worksof Marx.Engels.especiallyamong the local partyleadership(as. This content downloaded from 129. many of them were still committedto the traditionof circumciCommunist sion.workers ers alike. attendedsynagogueor performedthe Sabbathritual of candle-lighting.for example."63 Katz'santhropological explanation of circumcision becoming the indispensable markerof Jewish identitywas true not only for manyJews in Central Europein the second half of the nineteenthcenturybut also for most Soviet Jewsin the interwar period. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions ..As one memberof the MinskConstruction Workers' Party-cellpointed out in 1927. one'snewbornson wasperceived.if ever.Communist Party bersrequesteda doctor'scertification of medicalnecessityand had the circumcision performedas a medicalprocedure.[14] Jewish Social Studies • Vol.AsJacobKatzexplainedin his studyabout in nineteenth-century the debateon circumcision CentralEurope.211.the memchairmanof the MinskMetalWorkers' Union).. was performedby a mohel. "what changeslessin the historicalevolutionof the everyday which even Communists man"). at leastbymany Circumcising who had it privately JewishCommunists performed. who did not belong to the CommunistParty. It is this instinctualresponse thatassuresthe greaterpersistence of the practiceof circumcision over those ritualsperformeddaily or weeklyor yearly.we must assume that circumciand nonworksion waseven more commonamong thoseJews.and Leninandwereaffiliatedwith the country'smost the wordsofJacquesLe Goff. the commitmentto the practiceof circumcision on the partofJewishCommunistsshouldnot necessarily be seen as an indicationof religiousbehavior. of a specifically and it wasthe outgrowth Jewish mentality(or. it hasbecomean epidemic.the power of circumcisionlies in "aritual instinct in the human psyche [that] predisposesus to attributemore importanceto once-in-a-lifetime ritualsthan to repetitiverituals.or bris. the the expression of ethnicidentification.thoughJewishCommunists rarely married with a religious ceremony and rarely. 14 No.Second..if a significantproportionof Jewish partymembersperformedthe ritual.98.27 on Sun..Yet.

the guilty party Followingthe uncoveringof the 1924 transgression.unRevolution.they expected the local party agency to petition partyorgans so that these would in turn issue higher all-Belorussian a directive forbiddingthe carrying out of circumcisionwithout the The ConstructionWorkers' consent of both parents.211. In the meantime.One man.privately."65 Thereis no theydid not denythattheyhad had theirsons circumcised.whose son had been circumcised.who frompartynormsin this one specificarea. soughtto deviate.67 [15] JewishReligious Practicein SovietMinsk Elissa Bemporad This content downloaded from soon as he did and decided to inform his wife imploredhim not to.66 Party-cellwas evidentlyin searchof an officialpartyline on circumcision. derscoredhis commitmentto the Sovietvalue-system by statingthat "I would more easily accept a death sentence than expulsion from the a third man asserted that "theverdictof exclusion from the party"."andI we will have another baby. members attempted to avoid the standard punishment for nontheir expulsionfrom the party. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the ConstructionWorkers'Party-cellresolved to report the circumcisioncases to the city'sExecutiveCommitteeof the CommunistParty. of the ritual.there were numerous whichvariedaccordingto local rulingandwereaimedprirestrictions. "Ina couple of months Gurvitchstated to the party-cell.I'd moreeasilyagreeto divorcemywife.98." He stressedhis loyaltyto communism swearthat therewill be no bris.mohels marilyat the a publicCommunist In Minsk. his two comradeswere advised to bring those responsiblefor carrying out the circumcisionbefore the MinskCentralJewish Court.64 tive commissionwas usuallycomposedof three fellowpartymembers whowouldgo to the home of the accusedmemberafterthe birthof the babyto verifywhetherthe newbornson had been circumcisedor not. GurCommunistbehavior: vitch.27 on Sun. reasonto doubtthe sincerecommunismof these partymembers. promisinghim thatno cirthe party-cell. a body that functioned in Yiddishand tried both criminaland civil cases." and emphasizedhis serviceas a volunteerin the Red Armyand as a memberof the local communistundergroundmovementbefore the Another comrade. Whereas Gurvitchwas expelled from the party for one year. Althoughthere was no official Sovietprohibitionon circumcision.In the Sovietunderstanding werenot doctorsand shouldnot havebeen performingan unnecessary The investigamedicalproceduredetrimentalto the infant'shealth.statedthathe found out abouthis son'scircumcision onlyseveral weeksafterit wascarriedout.the firstdebateaboutcircumcision commission 1924. cumcisionwouldbe carriedout in the future.when an investigative settingtook place in mid-May of the Construction found three membersof the Communist Party-cell Workers' Union guilty of circumcisingtheir sons. Yet will party be a hugeblow.

000 Jews70 haviorwouldbecome the acceptedsocial norm for non-Communists.One comrade argued that Gorlin should leave his wife.27 on Sun. "[T]hecircumcision ritual discredits the prestige of the party in the eyes of non- This content downloaded from 129.if he refused.98."69 In the mid-1920sespecially. the outcome of the debate was viewed as crucial to determining the accepted norm of .however.the commission found that Gorlin'swife was awareof her parents'initiative. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .68 Preciselybecause of the high proportionofJews.stated. the only "Jewish topic"that regularlyappearsin the minutes of the Minshveiparty-cellis the circumcisionof children of Communists.The Case of ComradeGorlin [16] Jewish Social Studies • Vol. the religious ritualwould not have been carried out. Besides questions related to the use of Yiddishin everyday life.Byneglecting to educatehis lived.Gorlin was not guilty and should not be deprivedof his partymembership: had it not been for the "bourgeoisenvironment"surrounding his wife.Communistssuch as Gorlinwerepunished for having their sons circumcisedmainlybecause their behavior representeda threatto the primacyof communistnormsin Soviet society. After all.their transgressivebepopulation of approximately50. besides the substantialset of privilegesto which the partycard pavedthe way (suchasjob advancement. As the party-cellresolutionofJanuary9."After further investigation.211. wife and preventthe circumcisionfrom takingplace.and permitsfor vacations in resort areas). Comrade Gorlin informed the party-cellthat his wife's parents had "performed the religiousrite of circumcisionduring his and his wife's absence.the workingforce of the Minshveiclothing factorywas largelyJewish. 1925.being a Communistalso entailed a "specialcalling" and an absolutefaith and devotionto the party's"sacred cause. he had not taken the necessary steps to preventit. he had failed to behaveas a true Bolshevik. priorities for the acquisitionof a new apartment.In the opinion of another comrade.During the 1920sand early1930s.If the small caste of partymembersset the wrong examplein 1924. not his wife or the milieu in which he who washeld responsible.Although he had foreseen the possibility of the circumcisionbeing carriedout.Veryfewissuesconcerningthe livesand identity of Jewishworkersemerge in the protocolsof the factory'spartycell.there were847Jewishpartymembersand candidatesout of a .a case of deviancein the CommunistParty-cell of the clothing factory of Minsk set off another debate pertaining to Communistsand circumcision. 14 No. 2 At the end of 1924. It was the CommunistParty member. he should be expelled from the party.Communistsand behaviorvis-a-vis circumcisionforJewishworkers non-Communists alike.

but we can still cure him.e. he continued.albeitwith a warning. explained that "[w]hoever whoeveracts againstwhat the partyfights for. during the meeting of the Minshveiparty-cell.the party-cell and the DistrictControlCommissionfailed to consider that "Gorlin is a worker.]we should not execute someone who is ill when he can still be saved.even when they do not attend synagogueor believein God.partyworkers.In spite of the numerousprotestsand suggestionsto reducethe punishment. circumcision]concerns not only Gorlin but the In spite of the opposingview. for carryingout such an act it is necessaryto expel And Gorlinwas.71 Butduring theJanuary13. in which the party member was ultimatelynot punished with expulsion but was encouraged to "recoverfrom his bourgeoisillness." to reinstateGorlinin the party."To the Central Control Commission'sproposal to reinstateGorlin in the party.the partycell confirmedthe verdict:expulsion from the party.73 of the Gorlin case.not a Communist." expelled. In his opening statement. we must try.meeting. . .and to payclose The outcome attentionto his workand education as a Communist.arguedanotherpartymember.27 on Sun.Beilin (himself aJew and most likelycircumcised). .Gorlinshouldat leastbe reduced to the status of candidacyfor party membership. . . .in front of 240 party membersand candidatesand with the participationof higher party organs. 1925.the secretaryof the CentralControl Commission. Gorlin acted against the party .98. [In other words.and when he was mobilized by the party to the front he did not refuse.the party-cellresolved partyas a whole.72 The closing chapterof the Gorlinaffairtook place on May5..who wasrightlyexpelled from the partybecause of religious practice.applied to Gorlin.. and a Communistwho carriedout a circumcision cannot be a model of behavior for non-party members .accordingly. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .There were protestson the part of severalmembers. joins the partyin order to benefit from it. .His levelof politicalconsciousnessis mediocre. ." two points. Another party-cellmember emphasized that it was preciselybecause of his party experience and service as a volunteerin the Red Armythat Gorlin should have prevented the circumcisionfrom being carriedout. from the party. Becauseof his weakness.a party member since 1920. . . consequently. was not guilty.211. and whoeverdoes not behaveas a Communistand does not educate those around her/him The last is not a partymemberand. . the party-cellseemed to retraceits steps. 1925. who arguedthat the resolutionwastoo severeand that Gorlin."might indicate the intention of local partyleaders [17] JewishReligious Practicein SovietMinsk Elissa Bemporad This content downloaded from 129. . . .severalparty-cellmembersreworkersstill abide acted with surpriseand pointed out that "Jewish strictlyby the traditionof circumcision. this act [i.However. .

Ofseytakesthe mother-in-law to court.however.and Communistmen weremore implicatedin the than Babel'sstoryseemsto suggest. evictionfrom the partywill become the stringentnorm.Blaming one's wife as the exclusive source of "bourgeoisbehavior"became the standard reaction of a man who wasa memberof the CommunistPartyand wasfound to be In November1927." Upon returningfrom his trip and discovering and the mohel the women's evil scheme.his mother-in-law WhileOfseyBelotserkovsky (with the approvalof his wife) takes the newborn grandson to the mohel Naftulaand has the babycircumcised"in the presenceof ten ." IsaacBabellaysout a brilliantsatireof Jewishreligiouslife during the earlySovietyears.refusingthe tradiand motheroptedforduring tionalJewishname thatthe grandmother holds acIn this story. countablefor the circumcision schemethe mother-in-law and he presentsthe readerwith an idyllicportraitof a Communistfather who is absolutely unawareof the women'splot and wrongdoings. familymattersinvolvingcircumcisionwere much more complicated. 14 No. In reality. by failing to convince his wife to renounce her "bourgeoisbeliefs. a few weekslater.ten ancient and impoverishedmen. When. partymen wereusuallywilling to blame theirwivesand mothers.74 and the wife. Wivesand FamilyMatters Backward In his shortstory"Karl-Yankl."he had fallen shortboth "as a man and as a Communist.98. 2 to warnother partymembers:the firsttime you will be sparedexpulsion. in whatbecomesa show-trial at the OdessaPetrovsky honorof KarlMarx.the construe- This content downloaded from 129. is away on a businesstrip. He also namesthe babyKarl.Combreaking the rules of "partymindedness.the investigative commissionof the party-cellconfirmed that the infant had indeed been circumcised. As the party-cellresolution stated. denizens of doddering wrecks the hasidicsynagogue."75 Also in November1927.and depictsa familyconspiracy 1920s." rade Zorin warned the party-cellto which he belonged about the likelihood of his wife planning to have their son circumcised(which almostcertainlyimpliesthat the deed wasalreadydone).in the suburbs against a good Communist fatherwho is duped by his wife and mother-in-law.who allegedly associatedwith dangerous "bourgeoiscircles. but.27 on Sun. bris-plots When confrontedwith the failure to behaveas true Communists.It takesplace in the of Odessa."in order to avoid expulsion from the party.Zorinwas held responsible. if you engage in the anti-Communist practiceof circumcision again.[18] Jewish Social Studies • Vol. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .Babel-the-narrator the clandestineceremony.211.

who persists that.211. far from home..the blamefallsagainon thewife. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .wereipso facto expelled from the party."76 behavIn these instances.27 on Sun." a newritualof circumcising out the barbaric Whensomeonecarries bornson. in Febcondemnedthis misuseof membersof the party. the wife agreed not to have the babycircumcised.After all.After the investigativecommission established that his [19] JewishReligious Practicein SovietMinsk Elissa Bemporad This content downloaded from 129. follows nothing religious andwantsonlymatzah. the "cursed wife. and payalimony.whether for his wife'sbehavior.carrying to do with . and he provided the following explanation. wiveswereusuallyexcluded from skilled or professionalemploymentand had no careersto lose.In thisCommunist aJewishman. 1928. youmightthinkthathe is religious ing.It is she. Reginbogin.77 thebaby wanted During the late 1920s. when he workedat a constructionsite not far from home and could easilycheck on his son. divorce her. husbandis responsible .. was "revolution he had appliedthe proudto sharewith his comradeshowsuccessfully tenets to the home: two yearsearlier.the man is expected to forge the woman's ior:his conductis tantamountto that of a good Communist. leges thatpartymembership Justifyingbehaviorby blamingone'swife wasso common that.uses his "backward wife"as a pretext or non-Communist Communist to engage in religiouspractices. her parents pressuredher and the circumcisionwas carried out.whoputherfootdownand to beJewish. he has God forbid traditions.his wife had their revolutionary first-bornson circumcised without his permission." the old world.could lose the privientailedand be dismissedfromtheirjobs.Oktiaber the articlereads: titled "OurBackward Wives.whereas hers is closer to that of a bourgeoisstill anchoredto the principlesof in whichthe versionof "paternalism. the party-cellof the Metallfactoryin Minskdebatedthe case of Comrade Yofin. and could no longer keep an eye on his wife.ComradeLernerblamedFuntfor not implementingthe at home.Ensarcastically ruary1930. At first.On October6." is sweatIf youmeeton the streeta worker who. But as soon as he was transferredto a second constructionsite. Funt told the party-cellthat he would leave his wife at once."Another party-cellmember. but when their second son was born.tion workerand partymemberFuntwas accused of circumcisinghis newborn son.most membersof the CommunistPartywho had their sons circumcisedand whose cases became known to party officials. his wife did not even hint at the possibilityof carrying out a circumcision:"The truth is that wives can be easily bent in our direction. whereasthe husbands.on the eveof Passover. and a sackof matzah.98.

it was easy to point a finger at the "bourgeoiselements"on the Jewish street that carried out such behavior. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . his sister.98.anachronistic. Yofinmight even havebeen the same Minskworkerwho some monthsbefore sent an anonymousletter to Oktiaber with a warning:"Iadviseall the mohels of Minsknot to circumcisemyson.79 this case.Not only was their number in progressivedecline but also the practice itself was This content downloaded from 129. lighting candles on the Sabbathor purchasingkosher meat in the citycooperativewas."78 Although the Minskmohels were most likely not reading official CommunistYiddish newspapers.Whether they resented their families for pressuring weakthem to act againstthe partyor wereashamedof the "religious nesses"of their fellow comrades. unlike other forms of Jewish religious practice or ethnic particularthose who had had their sons circumcised.was performedalso by Communists.cases of Communistshavingtheir sons circumcisedwere hardlyever debated in local party-cells.Incidentally. for example.211. Openly advertisingone's objection to this "shamefulpractice" But in was a rather common practice among Communistfathers. If myson is circumcised.80 The ComplicatedLives of Jewish Communists The official Yiddishpress carries almost no reference to the aforementioned circumcisioncases of children of Communistsdebatedat The most length during the closed-doormeetingsof local party-cells. to campaign publicly against the production of matzah flour for Passover.27 on Sun.wasalso presentat the circumcisionceremony. Circumcision. During the early1930s. at least.might havefelt uneasy revealing how common this unbecoming behaviorwas among partymembers.for mostJewishCommunists. the party-celldid not fall for the cunning scheme and thus resolved to exclude Yofin from party candidacy. In other words.Yofinresortedto the usual ploy of blaming his wife and parentsfor performingthe religiousritualsupposedly without his approval. Yofincould still have used this letter as evidence of his "Communist" attemptto preventthe circumcisionof his newborn son.while he was out of town. 2 son had indeed been contrast. 14 No. plausiblereason seems to be that manyJewish Communists.a member of the Komsomol (the YoungCommunist League).they recognized that.therefore. and thus was not called into question in the public forum of the newspaper with the same frequencyand invective.circumcision remained a fairly conventional practice for Communists.I will hold responsible each and every mohel in Minsk.[20] Jewish Social Studies • Vol.and.

in full agreementwith the practiceof circumcision" officialSovietmedicalview. the mohel admittedthat the ritualwas not carriedout accordingto traditional Jewishlaw:it was performed withoutmetsitsah (the suckingof the blood at circumcision)and in the Radunskipointed out. usually found guilty of performing an "unnecessarysurgical and sentencedto prison." wasaccusedof cirIn March1931." Yetthe prosecutorassertedthe [people] .the Proletarian the "barbaric and. In other words.and among them a large segtherebyrejectcircumcision.Some even deferredtheir son'sbrisbya fewyears This content downloaded from 129. 1931.84 In spite of the growingdemand to conform to Sovietbehaviorand .211."81 Elissa Withthe fierceassaulton religionthatcharacterizedthe campaign Bemporad for collectivizationand industrializationof the 1930s.83 yearsin prison.98. M. and the number of active mohels. the mohel was brought to court in a showtrial.82 in the slaughterhouse instruments Tribunal blamedthe infant'sdeathon the finalverdict. accusingthe mohel of storinghis ritual In in whichhe workedas a shohet.their behaviorwassimplydeemed Debate had become superfluous.rejectedcircumcisionas a harmfulproceRadunskiwas sentencedto three dure that causesillness and death. . S.He also in performingcircumcisions emphasizedthe lackof hygieneand poor sanitaryconditionsin which the ceremonywascarriedout. JewishReligious in were expelled for Practice party memberssince 1931 and 1930. therebycausing Workers' memberof the Construction the infant'sdeath by hemorrhage.The show-trial againstthe "slaughas he wasreferredto in the trial'soffitererof chickensand children." hollownessof the 1921document that certifiedthe mohel's expertise andwassignedbya Minskdoctor. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . graduallydecreased.consideredsociallydeviantregardlessof the specificcontext in which it occurred.[21] ment for partymemberswhose sons had been circumcised.on March 21-24. In the case of a newborn's accidental death.When.During the trial. SovietMinsk havinghad their sons circumcised. are satisfiedwithoutthis.was held in the LeninJewishWorkers' Club. "aviolationof partydiscipline. maintaining the practiceof circumcisionbecame more challengingfor SovietJewish matterwho orchestratedthe circumcision.27 on Sun.mostJews ment of Jewish Communists continued to look for waysto abide by thisJewishpractice. in 1933." cial account. The social pressureon those who carried out the ritual intensified. "thenarod absenceof a minyan.the MinskmohelYoyneRadunski cumcisinga newbornbabyunbeknownstto the father (a 23-year-old TradeUnion). the OktiaberfactoryworkersD. respectively. treatment. expulsion from the party had become the standardpunish."Inour times. . or doctors willing to perform the procedure. Dvorkinand E. Deifer.

was expelled from the party for attending synagogue services. holiday resorts. or Old Bolsheviks. Following Lenin's death in 1924.85 One final observation seems useful with regard to the coexistence between Jewish Communists and circumcision. particularly in the 1930s when reviews (proverki)and purges (chistki). Born in 1870.27 on Sun. and throughout the late 1920s. Although most party members might have matched this ideal. What is interesting is not so much that a former sofer was expelled from the party but. This mass intake of members saw the party expand from approximately 470. Livshits replied that he had not noticed it. For some of them. He was also found guilty of having kept for five years a mezuzah attached to the doorpost by the entrance to his home. different groups of people with different aims and motivations aspired to become part of the new elite class in Soviet society and joined the party. during the review of party members and candidates of the Communist cell of the Minsk factory Elvoda. Although he had served in the Red Army from 1919 to 1923. a worker in the Telman Minsk shoe factory and a party candidate since 1931. Because Communist Party policy on member recruitment fluctuated during the interwar period. a worker in the Kaganovich Minsk factory since 1930. For many. Bliakher had joined the party at the unusually late age of 61. had joined the party in 1932. or religious scribe.86 During the 1933 party review. such as access to housing. But party membership had its risks. Lipa Livshits. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . This content downloaded from 129. an occupation that was not exactly in tune with Soviet social norms and that ultimately led to his expulsion from the party in 1933. from 1926 to 1928. Stalin launched heavy recruitment campaigns to strengthen his base in the party and reduce the influence of Communist veterans. which was considered an asset. many did not. resulted in the expulsion of those "hostile elements"who failed to adhere to party discipline. who had served on the Western front from 1919 to 1922 and had joined the party in 1924. 14 No. When asked why he did not remove it.98. he had also worked as a sofer.[22] Jewish Social Studies • Vol. 2 in order to circumvent the party's official line and avoid finger-pointing by the investigative commission of the local party-cell. and prestigious jobs usually denied to average Soviet citizens. membership in the party became first and foremost a path to privileges. the borderline between proper Communist behavior and deviant social practice was unclear or of little concern. The Bolshevik ideal of a revolutionaryvanguard of young true believers who were fiercely committed to the creation of a new socialist system and devoted to the cause of communism often shapes our perception of party members. In 1930.Yankl Bliakher.211.87David Shapiro. was accused of being a Trotskyite.000 members and candidates in 1924 to several million in 1933.during which the member's past was closely scrutinized.

to of traditional Jewishidentity the purchaseof koshermeat?The practiceof circumcision.but in the privatesphere of their home they could not fully renounce the deeply entrenchednotion that only through circumcisionwould their son be trulyJewish.89 bodymarker who in the absenceof baptism Communists.namely.that a Red Armysoldierwouldbecome a soferand.apply Whetherthe ambitionfor a careerand social for partymembership. the UnlikeUkrainian. to circumventthe Sovietcode of behaviorforJewish membersof the Communist Party. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .and seems. Communistmen joined with them.or to make the childJewish. Gender. doskind. circumcisionwas.rather. for example. of hisJewishreligiousidentification.98.circumcision .however. Insteadof and the barrieragainstthe Sovietization enlightening their wives and mothers.these In Sovietpublicsettingsaway ish ethnic identity. as SanderGilman put it.and FamilyNetworks so committedto this one element JewishCommunists Whyweremany .the alleged corruptingforce on the Jewish street of theJewishhome. Russian. later. Evenfor SovietJews.and Belorussian and Bebut werestill Ukrainians. in secret.manyJewish Communistscould not envisionJewishness as echoed in the Yiddishexpressionfor circumwithoutcircumcision. is that the formersofer did not rejectall What seems likely.Russians. expressions Body." accordingto whichone isJewisheven in the absenceof circumcision. wasintegralto the questionof "beingaJew. the importanceof the Marxistidea of the Communists acknowledged "mergingof nations"to build socialism. wereno longerChristians lorussians. In defianceofJewishlaw.or whetherhe did so out of ideological conviction.27 on Sun. thatset the boundariesofJewishness.88 mobilityin the SovietsystempersuadedShapiroto join the party.And the cising one's son:yidishn wasbyrelyingon their onlywaytheycouldensurethisethniccontinuity wivesand hard to establish. cannotbe examinedat length without The practiceof circumcision takinginto accounttwointertwinedand largelyunexploredthemesin Soviet the studyof everyday period. to be the bedrockofJewconsideredcircumcision Jewishfolkmentality from the family.211. Jewishlife in the interwar genderand familynetworks.or with the well-known Jewishcommunitywhen the HevrahKadishah eruptedin the Warsaw [23] JewishReligious Practicein SovietMinsk Elissa Bemporad This content downloaded from 129. If we compare the circumcisiondebates in interwarSoviet Minsk with the circumcisiondebatesin Germany during the late nineteenth 1908debatethat and earlytwentiethcenturies.

or men who held keyposiblametheirwivesand mothersfor tionsin Sovietsociety. Although generationalconflicts playeda crucial role in the process of Sovietizationof Russian Jewry. Conclusion In everysociety.familyloyaltywasa source of tension with their party allegiance. of course.98.German Jewish In the thinkersand reformers.convertinghis or her privatesphereinto a publicone.we notice a strikingdifferencein the role playedbywomen. circumcision en'sdomain and liability. in the same neighborhood.theystill had to come when to terms with their parents'views and traditions. This was much less the case in Moscowand Leningrad. hon Bacon'sdiscussionof the Warsaw debate. and influenced their level of obedience to partyguidelines. wouldpublicly circumcisingtheir sons while privatelyentrustingthem with the reof arrangingthis "newSovietJewish ritual. It This content downloaded from 129.27 on Sun. coping with the everyday on the same street."91 sage. Communistmen. Mothersand grandmothersthus all-male came to replacefathersin this traditionally Jewishcovenant.fathers.wherethe individualwasexpected to subscribeto the tenetsof Sovietideologyand spiritually mergewith the collective.particularly realityof living together in the same home. the practiceof circumcision(like baptismfor SovietChristians) was closely connected to the life of the family. deeplyingrained social customs. 2 (burialsociety)refusedto buryan uncircumcised seems that the importanceof the familyand close-to-kinnetworkin SovietJewishlife should be reAs a rite of pasconsidered and not reduced to "Jewish patricide.and In the case ofJewishCommunists. This studyof circumcisionsuggeststhat they did. often by young people without their parents and relatives. The degree to whichfamilyties shaped the decisionsand viewsof the youngerJewish generation of the 1920s and 1930s. in a ruthlesssystem cepted social norms like the one createdby the Soviets.[24] Jewish Social Studies • Vol. Although sons and daughters rebelledagainsttheir familiesand background.In RobinJudd's as well as in Gersdiscussionof the Germandebateovercircumcision.92 livingin largeJewishcenterssuch as Minsk.women are completely absent.the community.and Yiddishwritersand journalists. 14 No.or even merelyin the same city.211.all the more so.rabbis.the onlyactorstherebeing men.however. awaitsfurther investigation. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .individualsare forced to adapt to the commonlyac.90 becomesfor the firsttime a womSovietcontext. which were centers of recent migrationfrom the formerPale of Settlement." secretlypersponsibility formed by a doctor or by a mohel.

The tendencyto conform one's behaviorto the norms. The lives thatJewscame to lead involvedparticipationin.Others could not avoid doing so. so profoundlymarkedby the familiarityof the religiousexperience. to survivein the Soviet systemwithout participatingin it agencies. Makinga tabularasaof the past and erasing centuries-oldtraditionswas not so easy in a place like Minsk.was times circumscribing ness to the privatesphereof their livesonly.either out of their own desire or because of [25] JewishReligious Practicein SovietMinsk Elissa Bemporad This content downloaded from 129. Some wereindeed eager to speak sal and particular.offices.univerat the same time. togetherwith those who supportedthe institutionsthat made re. and practicesaccepted in Soviet society. circumvention of.neither of the parties who took part in the 1922 strife over the former Talmud-Torah building noted at the beginning of this article (JewishCommunistsversusrank-and-file Jews) relied on officialreligiousinstitutionsto expresstheirJewishidentity.or political beliefs. values. Most continued acting theirJewishJewish:at times in publicspaces.and it entailed a considerableamountof skill and luck. the number of Jews who participatedin religious life. ior. wassuddenlyaltered. Ironically. Although someJews were impatient to escape the confines of Jewish religious practice. Bolshevik. and resistanceto the terms of daily life that developed in SovietRussia. the Jews of the Soviet Union were constrained to redefine their livesand reinventan identitythat was SovietandJewish.institutions)and withoutac(usingthe bureaucratic the principlesof Communist behavcepting.which Stephen Kotkin has called "speakingBolshevik."93 inevitablycame to clash with Jewish"or conducting oneself according to Jewish customs.The rhythmof the livesof Sovietcitizens(Jewsand non-Jews alike). Within the context of the new system.211.especiallygiven that Minsk ligious practicepossible.27 on Sun.or at leastacknowledging.wassignificant was not a shtetl or a small provincialcity. violence of Bolshevization.further removedfrom the but was the capitalof a SovietRepublic. "acting religiouspractices.illuminating the intricaciesof their acculturationinto Sovietsociety and showing thatreligiousidentificationwasmore common and multifacetedthan is usuallythought. If the number of rabbisand OrthodoxJewsinvolvedin organizingreligiousand edsmall and in proucationalinstitutionsin the citywas comparatively gressive decline.manyothers soughtwaysto maintain religioustraditionsin light of Soviet reality. The studyof religiouspracticein an urban setting providesa winRussian dow into the fragmentedlivesof post-1917 Jews. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .98.and behaviorthat had been perfectlynormative in pre-Soviet timescame to clashwith the newSovietworldview.whereJewish religiouspracticewasdeeplyembeddedin dailylife.

in 1923. MosheStarkman(LosAngeles. 42.1. d. d.1917-1941.f.NancySinkoff." Bolshaia Sovetskaia 39 (1926): 465-68.see Elias in Khesed lein Minsk. 97. 1.1.See NARB. 521.f. 1."Minsk. Entsiklopediia Avraham: Seyfer ha-yoyvel le-Avraham Golomb tsu zayn akhtsikstn geboyrn-yor> This content downloaded from 129.NARB.forming52. By 1924.98."Yidishe kultur-tetikayt ed. 3 On the conversionof the MinskTalmud-Torah building into a secular Yiddishschool and a centerfor orphanedchildren after 1917. 5 In 1897.f. The persistence of kosher meat production (often without rabbinic supervision) and circumcision (often by a medical doctor) are indicative of the evolution of Jewish practices from religious commandments to ethnic habits and the transformation of Jewish identity from a religious to an ethnic category. f.16-18. 42. 1137. 4 GAMO.686 and. d. 11.there were47.theJewsnumbered48.6 percentof the population. 1. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . they still constitutedthe single largestnationalgroup in the cityafter the Be43 percentof the citypopulationwasBelorussian. 1.and a little over3 percentwasPolish. 1 Natsionalniy ArkhivRespublikiBelarus(NationalArchiveof the Bela53-69. though their percentageof the populationdropped to 40. 1. the latter emerged with unusual strength precisely because of the weakness of official religious authority.Soviet culturalpurposes. 591. 42. 1437. d. 1.3 percentof the citypopulation. 11. 8-11. The sharp decline of rabbinic authority due to Bolshevik persecution did not lead such Jews to abandon folk yidishkayt. 14 No. f. 2 On Apr.a group of delegatesfrom the Commissionfor the Requisitionof ChurchTreasures of the MinskRegion. 1. op.94 Notes I wouldlike to thank MarionKaplan.hereafterNARB).and NARB. 70 of the 120 synagogues authoritieshad confiscatedapproximately and houses of prayerexisting in Minskbefore the Revolution. 2 their allegiance to preexisting social networks and family ties. udarstvenniy hereafterGAMO).they numbered53.211. 99. 224. 1970). op.GosArkhivMinskoiOblasti (StateArchiveof MinskOblast.agentsof the BelorussianSecretPolice (GPU). 11. 649.f.27 on Sun. op. In fact.[26] Jewish Social Studies • Vol.562Jewsliving in Minsk.op. op.312 and constituted 43.11.and BarryTrachtenberg for their commentsand suggestions.782. op.took possessionof synagogue buildingsand nationalizedceremonialobjectsfor propagandaand 1-5.82. 37. 14. d. 1926. rus Republic. d.8." Schulman.117.10 perlorussians: cent wasRussian.and membersof the Evsektsiia (the JewishSection of the CommunistParty).

320.25-30. 2006). f. 6. among seforim (religious books).4. On Jewish students in Minsk who attended both Soviet schools and heders in 1929. 3. nity Jewin Russia. 600. f. Yahadutbe-rusyah redifot ha-sovyetit: salem. 23-31. June 18."Der Mar. 36-37. and file 476. 1. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . As a result. 6. p. 12. Tsimbalist was the founder and head of the yeshivah. Collection 21/32. 51. there were 30 registered rabbis living in Minsk. 591. d. Culture. 11. Ramat Gan.6 Yuri Slezkine. 3. Rabbi Leibovich was the magidshiur (instructor of Talmud). 14 NARB. 1981). A. 8 In 1924. 11. 10-12. 1. p. Di Rabonim in dinstfun finants-kapital (Moscow. "Der protses fun shokhtim-trest in Minsk: Driter briv. d. 19 GAMO. 11. f. 48. 1930). 1. see Isaac Levitats. d. (New 1943). 54-55 (2005): 108-79. 12 Nikolai V. 1949). 22 See Yidsektsye fun der Vaysrusisher visnshaftlekher akademye. See GAMO. d. 1998). see David E."JDC Archives. 14. kovets le-zikhro (Jeru- [27] JewishReligious Practicein SovietMinsk Elissa Bemporad salem. 8. For more on the Council of Rabbis of the USSR. Russia AfterLenin:Politics. 140-42. 11. his wife. Collection 21/32. 13 Gita Gluskina. 26-27.and Society. op. The Jewish Commuin as well as his The 1772-1844 York. the rabbi. water. ish Community 11 Kh.1. 1. 21 "Surveyof the Religious and Cultural Work Accomplished with the Funds Offered by the Joint Distribution Committee in the USSR by Means of the Rabbinic Committee of the USSR. Le-korot ha-dat (Jeru16 A. f. Gershuni. Personal interview with Gita Gluskina. 2004. daughter of the Minsk rabbi Menachem Mendel Gluskin. 1925.3-6. also known as Kalte Shul. f. 3.l. 258. Ilfilo e le tracce: Vero. op. "To Our Brethren Abroad: Letters and Reports by Soviet Rabbis. p. 9 GAMO. This content downloaded from 129. 7 Carlo Ginzburg.82. see GAMO. Fishman. and their three daughters lived in the Main Synagogue. 52-57. falso. 1. Russia. 13. 2000). ernes."/^5 in Russia and EasternEurope1-2. and part of the With no access to heating or city's Synagogue Courtyard. 1016.98. Brovkin.d. p.27 on Sun. until 1930.. 1961). 254. p. nos. Ber.op. see Rabi Yehoshua me-Horodna zatsal moreh tsedek ve-rosh metivtah. I thank Ben-Tsion Klibansky for sharing this information with me. 3. 20 Rabi Yehoshua me-Horodna. 1925-1930. 30-31. op."JDC Archives. they slept in the women's section of the synagogue. recalls that her family was not entitled to an apartment because of her father's lishchentsy status. 133. 1844-1917 (Jerusalem. 1921-1929 (London. file 473. finto (Milan. and Rabbi Yitzchak Tuvya Goldin was the administrator. when they moved to Leningrad. The Jewish Century(Princeton. 10 On the institution of the korobka. file 476.211. 17 "Report of the Accomplishments of the Rabbinical Board in Russia During 5688. op. 15 On the life and activities of Rabbi Yehoshua Tsimbalist. located on Shkolnaia Street in Nemiga. Israel. or shul-hoyf. 18 Ibid.

2. ernes. 2. Yahadutbe-rusyah 142. 10. p. 11. 119-23. Haynt iz der yom ha-din. I identify them by surname only because the documents did not provide first names or initials. 5. See NARB. 4. Robin Judd. 24 In 1935. 13. 1. Shimshelievitsh. For the existence of an institution for adults to study Torah in Minsk until the eve of World War II. 3. Kh. Here. Der Mar. p. "Yidishe bildlekh fun rusland. 2. the rabbi is the person who inspects the knives of the ritual slaughterers and provides them with a written authorization attesting their qualification as shohtim. 1925. 1925). 24.f. Ber. d. Known as halef. 93."First transformed into the Jewish Workers' House of Culture (Evreiskii Rabochii Dom Kul'tury). According to custom. 1.Mar.the knife used during kosher slaughtering must have a perfectly sharp blade." see Gershuni.22-24. Kh. for the shohet tog fun protses. See. p. op. 1 thank Joshua Karlip for bringing these articles to mv attention. 1. "Der protses fun shokhtim-trest in Minsk: Zekster briv. Di Rabonimin dinstfun finants-kapital. "to satisfy the cultural needs of the Jewish working masses of the city. "Der protses fun shokhtim-trest in Minsk: Zekster briv. 1. Kalmanovitch. "Der protses fun shokhtim-trest in Minsk: Ershter briv. 1925. 591. a club that hosted political and cultural events. 164.As a result. 1925." Letstenayes." Letste nayes.. 1925. and for a number of other people mentioned in this article. "Der protses fun shokhtim-trest in Minsk: Tsveyter briv. 3. d. p. 19. op. "Der protses fun shokhtim-trest in Minsk: Der psak-din. the meat may not be eaten byJews. Minskershokhtim-trest. Kh." Der Mar. the Great Minsk Choral Synagogue was requisitioned on Feb. 1923. Zelig Kalmanovitch. 80-81." Der ernes. (Minsk. Yidsektsye fun der Vaysrusisher visnshaftlekher akademye. 14 No."Der Mar. 7. Ber. "Yidishe tipn in ratn-rusland. Ber. 11. 2 Arn Rozin. 539.Apr. 3. 428. 2. 76. even if Droykin followed the remaining rules of shehitahbut did not operate under rabbinical supervision. 1925. e. p. p. 3.98. 1.192-93. d.211. Ber. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . d. f. 2. ernes. If the blade is damaged or uneven. 1925. 11. Ber. his meat was technically not kosher. "The Politics of Beef: Animal Advocacy and the Kosher This content downloaded from 129." 2. 11." Der ernes. ha-sovyetit. p. 1925. ernes. M. f.27 on Sun. free of dents or imperfections.a numberof undergroundheders still operatedin Minsk. Kh. "Der protses fun shokhtim-trest in Minsk: Zekster briv. Inaugurated on Sept. op. 11. Droykin. 12. f. 23 GAMO. "Yidishe bildlekh fun rusland. 1. Zelig Kalmanovitch. 26-29. 1906. Mar. op.See [28] Jewish Social Studies • Vol. Ber. GAMO."2. 1981). in 1928 the synagogue was converted into the Belorussian Yiddish State Theater."Der Mar. Mayn veg aheym: Memuamfun an asir-tsiyon in ratn-farband 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 (Jerusalem.g. 1. and GAMO. the so-called "heder Shul. 137. Kh.

ha-zman 2 ve-ad Stalin ha-aharon. 49 G. For a similar case in Germany in which the German Army consumed meat from cattle that had been slaughtered ritually. 1. 1016. 1 (Fall 2003): 126-27. Yehudim ve-yahadutbi-vritha-moatsot: vol. and Rozin. 1933. 48 See GAMO. See also Yidsektsye fun der Vaysrusisher visnshaftlekher akademye. 54 A. 43-45. see Gershuni. 1. 1928. no. Yehudim 88-91. 1928. see. and "Afnveg fun opshafn di Feb. 86. 40 GAMO. 25. see Judd. 46 On the involvement of Jewish women in food riots. 1928. d.34-35. 4. 43 Abe. Naumov. 4.48. d." Oktiaber. 4. "Immigrant Women and Consumer Protest: The New York JewishHistory20. 4.38. p. d. or calves slaughtered according to the Jewish method. 44 Khaym Vilentshik.D. p. op. der held fun mord un oysgelasnkayt. 4. 12.27. op. f. 3." Oktiaber. d. "Politics of Beef. "Di klerikal-sadistishe fizionomye fun reb Yankev-TevyeRapoApr."3. the Shoavei Mayim yeshivah was closed down following Rabbi Tsimbalist's departure for Palestine in 7. 12. See Rabi Yehoshua me-Horodna. 1934. Oktiaber. "Zol nemen a sof tsu der shvartser khutspe!.37."JewishSocialStudiesn. 45 GAMO. 56 For the official account of the Rapoport show-trial. 50 GAMO. 10. For a radically different assessment of port. op. 26. 12. 3. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 1928. Mar. 1934. 43-44. p. Rapoport. 1016. p. p. ve-yahadutbi-vritha-moatsot. 2. 1. 1970). 47 GAMO.see "Gerikhtibern farreb Yankev-Tevye Apr. 1. 1. f. and "Protsesibern klerikal. "Zol nemen a sof tsu der shvartser khutspe!. 3. see Judd. 1980): (Sept. 41 An eygener [pseud." American 91-105." Oktiaber."Oktiaber. 5. 11. "Politics of Beef. Hyman. A. f. 12.. tkufat 53 Shifres. 1928.Feb.37. 1934. p. 1016. 11. sheep.s. Oktiaber. 1016. 39 Abe. op. This amount included only cattle. e. takse. "Akoshere artel." 127. Apr." 3. brekher-sadist-shoykhet p. "Der protses fun shokhtim-trest in Minsk: Ershter briv.Butchering Debates in Germany. 1. 1. 26. 1. Tevye Rapoport: Ershterovnt fun gerikht. Gershuni. op. 1 City Kosher Meat Boycott of 1902.98. Paula E. Yahadutrusyahmi52 A. 3.27 on Sun. 3. "Shoykhet Rapoport. p.. (Jerusalem. 1. "Anofener briv dem Minsker rov Gluskin. f. Di Rabonimin dinstfun finants-kapital." 125. no. 4. p. p. 74. d. farbrekher-sadistdem shoykhet YankevApr. 51 According to Rabbi Asher Karshtein." Oktiaber. Mayn vegaheym. 18. 1928. Feb." Oktiaber. Rapoport's figure. [29] JewishReligious Practicein SovietMinsk Elissa Bemporad This content downloaded from 129. f." Oktiaber. 42 Ber.]. 4.211. Feb. 55 On sexual anxieties and Jewish butchers in fin-de-siecle Germany."Oktiaber." Feb. 30. not chickens. 1934. See also "Di yidishe arbetndike froy kegn shtrayml: Rezolutsye fun der yidisher sektsye fun der delegatn-farzamlung in shtotishn rayon ongenumen 22 februar 1928. 1016.g. 12. "Gots-straptshes in Minsker shekht-hoyz.

This content downloaded from 129. 3. 11. d. 1. l. op. 1930. 1260. 63. Feb. "Undzere 'opgeshtanene' froyen. 73 Ibid. 65 NARB. 1. JewishReligion in theSovietUnion. 1998).nos. 1.216-17. p. 37. 237.37-41. 1. 1260.. GAMO.. Evrei sovetskoi provintsii: Vitebski mestechki. 80 GAMO.[30] Jewish Social Studies • Vol.16-17. d. 166. 4. Ibid. MagneticMountain: Stalinismas a Civilization(Berkeley. 22. ed..ed. 11. d. 74 "Karl-Yankl. GAMO. d. 3. op.. op.24-25. 11." Oktiaber. 271. 1971). NARB. 11. 2006). 619-27. 11. xx. e. d..15. op. 11. 67 As of 1924. 64 Joshua Rothenberg. 164. 64. the party-cell of Minshvei counted 155Jewish members and only 6 Belorussians. 2. f.211. 1260. 79 See. 82 "Di klerikaln-shediker farn proletarishn gerikht.408-10. "Doloi obrezanie. 1928. 1931. 11. 68 In 1928. 147. vol. 37. 58 For the influence that the shtetl had on Jewish life in Soviet urban centers until World War II. 1930s. 3. f. 38. 295. 37.231-34. 1. d. 462. 71 GAMO." in Methodologie de Vhistoireet des sciences humaines. 229. 2 57 "Protses ibern klerikal. 69 Stephen Kotkin. f. 37. 70 GAMO.H." Oktiaber. d. New 63 Quoted in Elizabeth Wyner Mark. 11. 11. 7. op. N. f. 1. 2 of Melanges en Vhonneur de FernandBraudel(Toulouse. 78 "Abrivin redaktsye. Rothenberg. 66 Ibid. Yehudim ve-yahadutbi-vritha-moatsot.54-56. 11. Soviet Jewryon theEve of the Holocaust: A Social and Demographic Profile (Jerusalem. On the persistence of kosher butchering in Soviet cities in the 86-87. GAMO. 166. 21-22 (1930): 33-36. 229.. Mar. f. f. 11. e. Olshanetskii. 1934. 228. 2. p. d.99-101. 72 GAMO. 1.g. see Mordechai Altshuler. 417-18. op. d. 72. op. farbrekher-sadist dem shoykhet Yankev-Tevye Rapoport: Urteyl. 12. f. f. Francois Furet and Jacques Le Goff. 1. 1.g. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . The Covenantof Circumcision: on an Ancient Perspectives JewishRite (Hanover. 2. 308.98." in The Complete Works of Isaac Babel." Oktiaber. f. 75 GAMO. op.5-6. 11. op.37-38.417-18. op. 12. and Arkadii Zeltser.27 on Sun. 77 Sholem Levin. 59 60 61 62 45-46. The JewishReligion in theSovietUnion (New York. 14 No. d. 81 GAMO. 11. 28. 1917-1941 (Mos- cow. 83 For Soviet propaganda literature against the practice of circumcision. see Dr. 3. 37. p. f.11-12.75-76. 11. 76 GAMO. 2002). 89..1. 1973). p. op. Tan. 1995). Apr." Bezvimik. see Gershuni. "Histoire et ethnologic. 984 (or 60 percent) of the members of the Construction Workers' Union in the city and district of Minsk were Jewish. 408-10. 2003). 1335. f. 1.d. 5. 142-43." Oktiaber. f. d. op. Nathalie Babel (New York.

GAMO. See. N. 94. Kiselev. Shalom Asch ve-shaaruriyat ha-milah be-varshah. Kilimnik. Anna Shternshis. d..143. 164. bilder.. 146-51. See Sander Gilman. 123. there is no historical research about the practice of baptism among Soviet citizens during the 1920s and 1930s. 3. Communist Party officials could not easily check after the fact whether a child had been baptized. 2006). and Gershon Bacon. 297-98. Mar. 1991). f. chap. op. see Christel Lane. as they could with circumcision. 11. "Di klerikaln-shediker farn proletarishn gerikht.17-30.211. 175. With the exception of Lane's sociological study. 1931. (Vinnytsya.Jewish Century. p. The Jew'sBody(New York. 1843-1914. Sovietand Kosher: in theSovietUnion. 93 Kotkin. Mekler.27 on Sun. d. GAMO.Y. PopularCulture This content downloaded from 129. la. 1978). GAMO. f. 1936). which focuses primarily on the postwar years. 91 S\ezY\ne.ayndruknfun a rayzeiberSovyetRusland (Warsaw. 155.32-35.. 59-62. Mentshun mashinin Sovyetn-land: Faktn. d. 11. One plausible reason for this deficiency is that. 254. op. Peretz. O kreshchenii (Moscow." in Mi-Vilna li-Yerushalaym: Mehkarim be-toledotehemuve-tarbutam shelyehudei mizrah eropah mugashim le-profesorShmuel Werses. f. David L.g. Ind. hofesh bitui ve-zehut modernit be-polin: Y. 142-55. 5 May 2013 02:49:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . esp. 1908. David Assaf et al. Covenantof Circumcision. who examines similar phenomena but from an anJewish thropological vantage point.98. 5.. e. 2002). [31] JewishReligious Practicein SovietMinsk Elissa Bemporad (Jerusalem. 21. 1.ed. MagneticMountain. 24-30. Likewise. in the absence of a "body marker"such as in the case of circumcision. 1937). esp. ChristianReligion in theSoviet Union:A Sociological Study(Albany. See Robin Judd. 92 On baptism. it is more difficult for historians to ascertain the level or degree of baptism. Yehudim 93-95. op. 2005). 92. and i obrezanii G. 1923-1939 (Bloomington. I. esp. L. ed. 5. 94 This kind of synthetic SovietJewish identity has been explored recently by Anna Shternshis. Kommunisticheskaia vlasVprotiv religiiMoiseia:Dokumenty 1920-1937 i 1945-1953 gg. 167-85.84 85 86 87 88 89 90 reissued in L. and ve-yahadutbi-vritha-moatsot. "Circumcision and Modern Jewish Life: A German Case Study. "Kfiyahdatit. 25. Gershuni. 164." Oktiaber. 1257. 11." in Mark. 5.