Activities of Jewish Public Societies in Podillia in 1920s and 1930s
The little-known pages of the history of Podillia are studied in the paper, namely: the activities of Jewish cultural organizations, from the period of the so-called ‘Kamianets Era’ of the UNR (Ukrainian People’s Republic) in June-November 1919 to the beginning of accelerated, forced collectivization in the Ukrainian SSR, when the gradual onset of central and local power on Jewish cultural institutions and their step-by-step abolition began. The goals of the study are to highlight the activities of Jewish cultural organizations in Podillia during the UNR and the first decade of Soviet rule; to analyze and compare the policy of state institutions of the Ukrainian People’s Republic and the Soviet government regarding the activities of Jewish cultural societies; to show the process of struggle in the Jewish environment itself for the prospects of the Jewish cultural and educational process.
The author has concluded that the history of Jewish cultural societies and institutions in Podillia, which operated in the 1920s, could be divided into several main stages:
1) 1919-1920 – a period of struggle in the Jewish environment itself for the defining of the essence of cultural work among the Jews. While the Jewish socialist parties (Poale Zion, United Socialists) advocated the creation of a new modernized Jewish culture, the right-wing Jewish circles (Zionists, Ahdus) insisted on preserving a traditional ethnic culture closely associated with Judaic values. The UNR authorities, although they supported the Jewish socialist parties, tried not to interfere in that process, did not set themselves the goal of controlling it in any way;
2) 1920-1923 – establishment of control by the Bilshovyks over the cultural and educational life of the Jews of Podillia, the ban by the Soviet authorities on the activities of all cultural organizations that focused on the ancient Jewish language and culture. The main focus was on the creation of a new Jewish socialist culture;
3) 1923-1929 – establishment of a wide network of Jewish cultural and educational institutions (village community centers, libraries, and village reading rooms), which after all gradually managed to bring to the side of the Soviet power the vast majority of Podillia Jews. At the same time, the members of illegal and semi-legal organizations were being persecuted by local authorities. In the late 1920s, the process of closing synagogues began in Podillia, and from the mid-1930s the network of Soviet Jewish libraries, village community centers, village reading rooms, and clubs began to dwindle. This issue may be the subject of new research.
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