FEATURED BOOK FOR JANUARY:
Why you might be interested:
Gal Beckerman frames the story of the Soviet Jewry movement as a redemption story. We don’t all know that story as well as we think we do. If you remember “Save Soviet Jewry” billboards, prisoner of conscience bracelets, and twinning with a thirteen year-old-Russian for your Bar or Bat Mitzvah, you lived during the struggle but may not understand what happened behind the scenes. Alisa and Vera claim that most Americans and Europeans are not very well-informed on the dissident movement and believed everything they read in the American papers. They have their view and they would approve of Gal Beckerman’s well-researched and compelling history of the movement.
Just as Beckerman discovered in his research, we found that the paradox of the USSR not allowing Soviet Jews to completely assimilate and also not allowing them to express a positive Jewish identity pushed many Soviet Jews to assert their Jewish identity. Many, like Alisa, considered emigration. We relied on Beckerman’s research of the Leningrad hijacking when we wrote about Alla’s dad’s connection to one of the hijackers. Soviet Jews knew bits and pieces of their history. American Jews knew fragments of the background of the Soviet Jewish emigration. Beckerman fills in the blanks.
Leslie and I are not the only fans of this book. It was named one of the best books of the year by The New Yorker and The Washington Post and he won the 2010 National Jewish Book Award and the 2012 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. Gal Beckerman is currently the opinion editor at The Forward.