The project is aimed at further developing a digital archive of Soviet Jewish ego-documents (memoirs, shorter autobiographies, diaries, family histories and correspondence), collecting new documents preserved in the families, communities, private and state archives (either in the form of handwritten or typewritten manuscripts or published in a limited edition for family and friends), and analyzing the existing textual corpus.
Text analysis consists in automatic parsing of personal and geographical names as well as manual indexing selecting textual fragments corresponding to particularly Jewish and universal subjects (historical events, elements of Jewish tradition and religion, family and romantic relations, public and professional life, education and culture, etc.).
Collecting and studying ego-documents written by “ordinary” Soviet Jews (that is the word in the title of many a memoir), neither cultural elite, nor Refuseniks, is meant to enable us to see a more multifaceted picture, shedding light on the real fabric of life as opposed to ready scholarly schemes and conventional attitudes and revealing the diversity of Soviet Jewish experience that actually included victimity as well as heroism and extreme success, acculturation up to conversion to Orthodoxy along with Jewish observance, Jewish shame – and positive and proud Soviet Jewish identity.
head of the project