In the 1920s, many leading figures in Yiddish literature and scholarship relocated to, or chose to stay in, the Soviet Union, where they found government support for their work, albeit at the cost of ideological conformity. Zelig Kalmanovitch, a leading East European Jewish intellectual at the time—and an anti-Communist who, later in his life, would embrace both Zionism and Orthodoxy—was greatly disappointed when he saw his friends make this decision. Kalmanovitch’s leading biographer, Joshua Karlip, reflects:
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At the time of Columbia University’s founding in 1784, notes Meir Soloviechik, the leader of the local synagogue, Gershom Mendes Seixas, was made a member of its board of regents. A Jewish student even gave a commencement address, composed by Seixas, in Hebrew. In the 20th century, Columbia attracted numerous Jews with the relaxation of quotas, and was the first secular university to create a chair in Jewish history. Barnard College, Columbia’s all-women’s school, was itself founded by a Jewish woman, and today has a large number of Orthodox Jewish students.