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The Grave of a Great Yiddish Poet Has Been Found in Siberia

In the aftermath of World War II, Joseph Stalin began to adopt policies of official anti-Semitism, which included the arrest and eventual execution of many leading figures of Yiddish theater and literature. Among them was Pinḥas Kahanovitsh, known by the pen name Der Nister (“the Hidden One”), whose poetry, short stories, and novels are considered exemplars of Jewish modernism. Two researchers recently discovered his grave in the coal-mining village of Vorkuta above the Arctic Circle. The Jewish Telegraph Agency reports:

Ber Kotlerman, a professor of Yiddish language and literature at Bar-Ilan University, . . . along with a Russian colleague, Moscow State University’s Alexander Polyan, pinpointed the Kahanovitsh’s burial place, . . . using testimonies and blueprints of the gulag that existed there. . . .

Kahanovich was a member of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, [assembled by Stalin during World War II for propaganda purposes]. Most of the committee’s members were rearrested in the 1950s, convicted on trumped-up espionage charges, and killed.

Most of the bodies of the victims were dumped in mass graves, but Kahanovich was buried separately because he fell gravely ill while serving a ten-year sentence in the gulag and was transferred for health reasons to a camp for disabled prisoners. He perished in the village of Abez, near Vorkuta, on June 4, 1950.

Many of Der Nister’s colleagues from the Anti-Fascist Committee were killed in August 1952 in what is known as the Night of the Murdered Poets, including Itzik Feffer, Peretz Markish, David Hofshteyn, Leyb Kvitko, and David Bergelson.

Read more at JTA

More about: Anti-Semitism, History & Ideas, Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, Joseph Stalin, Soviet Jewry, Yiddish literature

The Movement to Return Jewish Worship to the Temple Mount Has Gone Mainstream

Sept. 25 2017

During the eruption of violence against Israelis in Jerusalem this summer, and the subsequent struggle over metal detectors, the Islamic authorities briefly boycotted the Temple Mount. As a result, Jewish visitors, normally prohibited from praying there, immediately began to do so. Meir Soloveichik puts the episode in context and describes its meaning:

The Temple Mount is fast becoming a pilgrimage site for religious Jews. In the past, most abstained from visiting out of concern that they might enter a sacred area in a state of ritual impurity, but many now believe that, with a knowledge of the layout, history, and religious laws pertaining to the location, it is permissible to visit certain parts of the Temple Mount plaza. They thus visit the site under religious guidance—immersing first in a ritual bath, or mikveh—and tread only in specific areas. What was once a trickle of pilgrims has become a stream, and this year they numbered in the many thousands. . . .

[Indeed, a] sea change has taken place in the past fifteen years: . . . the segment of Jews visiting the Temple Mount is becoming more and more mainstream, supported by rabbis noted for their liberalism in social or religious affairs. . . .

Visiting Jews were, for a brief and brilliant moment [this summer], able to utter several words of prayer without interference. The Israeli media published photos of a diverse group of Jews standing on the Temple Mount reciting the kaddish, so close to where their ancestors, on Yom Kippur, had once stood listening to the high priest pronounce the Name of God. Soon after this kaddish, the [status quo ante] returned; Jews again were no longer free to pray at the site toward which all Jewish prayer has been directed for thousands of years. But images of that one unimpeded kaddish remain; to study them is to look back on the miraculous and heartbreaking past half-century in Jerusalem, to celebrate what has been achieved, and to mourn what might have been.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Judaism, Palestinian terror, Religion & Holidays, Temple Mount