Ukraine’s Jewish History, Its Present Crisis, and Where Israel Fits In

January 3, 2023 | Ruth R. Wisse
About the author: Ruth R. Wisse is professor emerita of Yiddish and comparative literatures at Harvard and a distinguished senior fellow at Tikvah. Her memoir Free as a Jew: a Personal Memoir of National Self-Liberation, chapters of which appeared in Mosaic in somewhat different form, is out from Wicked Son Press.

In conversation with Eli Lake, Ruth R. Wisse considers the long history of Ukrainian Jewry—including the many episodes of violent persecution Jews suffered at Ukrainian hands from the 17th century until the 20th—and the way this history is portrayed in such great works of Yiddish literature as Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye the Dairyman. The two then go on to explore the moral significance of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, what it means for the Jews, the significance of the fact that this country is now being led in a fight for its freedom by a Jewish former comedian, and, finally, what risks Israel should and should not take to aid it in this fight. (Audio, 68 minutes.)

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