Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Everyday Judaism on the soviet periphery: Life and identity of Transcarpathian Jewry after World War II
by Quilitzsch, Anya, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2016, 307; 10144214
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation investigates how the Holocaust and postwar sovietization shaped the dynamics of Jewish communities and ordinary life in southwestern Ukraine. I examine the relationship between state policy and the sphere of Jewish religious practice. Two research questions motivated this study: (1) What was the trajectory of the lives of Eastern European Jews who came back from Nazi concentration camps? and (2) How did Jews negotiate their religious and public identities in an everyday setting? To examine these questions, the study illuminates the postwar life of one group of Jewish Holocaust survivors in the periphery of the Soviet Union. Literature on postwar Soviet Jewry has focused almost exclusively on the lives of elites in the center. This study enhances our understanding of Jewish integration into Soviet society.

I used oral history, collected during my own ethnographic fieldwork in Israel and Ukraine, as well as state archives to analyze processes of return and integration. Interviews with ordinary people permit a social perspective on political developments and communal reconstruction. Statistical data and official communication provide the framework necessary to show the dynamics of Jewish life. Combining archival material with oral history demonstrates that the impact of Soviet rule on Jewish life after World War II is more complex than previously portrayed. Topics examined include the liberation from Nazi concentration camps, arrival experiences in Transcarpathia, the reconstruction of private and public Jewish life in the late 1940s and everyday Jewish practice in the 1950s and early 60s.

Ordinary Jews fully integrated into society, succeeded in their careers and expressed their Jewish identity through religious practice. The findings include individual negotiation of demands in secular society and the methods of circumventing obstacles that restricted religious practice. The analysis of the interviews, however, prompts a reconsideration of postwar Soviet Jewish life with regard to persecution and emigration narratives.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kenney, Padraic J.
Commitee: Kerler, Dov-Ber, Kuromiya, Hiroaki, Roseman, Mark
School: Indiana University
Department: History
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 78/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: European history, East European Studies, Judaic studies
Keywords: Family, Holocaust, Jewish practice, Stalin, Synagogues, World war ii
Publication Number: 10144214
ISBN: 9781339993768
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