Jews Returning to Birobidjan
by Yated Ne'eman Staff
Hundreds of Jews who left Birobidjan in recent years returned
during the past year according to local reports. For the
first time in 50 years, they claim, more people migrated in
than out. Returnees say they left Israel because of difficult
employment, housing and even weather conditions.
The reports also state that religious and cultural life is
flourishing in the city for the first time in years. The old
beis knesses has been renovated and a Jewish cultural
center has been opened. Jewish newspapers are also sold in
Jewish settlement in the Birobidjan District was initiated by
Stalin. Some say he had a diabolical plan to concentrate
Russian Jews in one place to make annihilating them easier
when the time came, and others hypothesize he intended to
carry this out before his sudden death.
Officially Stalin offered to allow Jews to move to the
Birobidjan District to maintain their culture undisturbed and
to earn their living through agriculture. He introduced
Yiddish into the area, but in a distorted, secularized,
Bundist form. Yiddish did take over and even today it is
considered the official and dominant language. Official signs
and street signs are in Yiddish but the younger generation
tends to speak Russian.