Uman Jewish Discourse in the Creative Activity of Nadia Surovtsova
The issue of religious, national and cultural tolerance of Ukrainians towards the representatives of other peoples, which were living and are living in the territory of this country often became relevant in the context of national liberation struggle for the right of the very existence of our nation under the oppression of aggressive neighbors. The relations between Ukrainian and Polish, Ukrainian and Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish, Ukrainian and Jewish peoples have been estimating in different ways by historians and ordinary people: the last two were enslaved for a long time; both are looking for ways to preserve their national and cultural identity, however, for Jews, Ukrainians often found themselves on the other, the enemy, side of the barricade when wars, revolutions, and revolts took place. Anti-Jewish pogroms occurred during the National Liberation War (1648-1657) organized by Bohdan Khmelnytsky, and during the Koliivshchyna (Haidamaka uprisings) in 1768, and during the revolutionary events of the first twenty years of the twentieth century. Even today mutual offenses and accusations often spoil relations between two nations, but there are much more than unity and reconciliation. To be sure in this, it’s enough to look through the memoirs of eyewitnesses of those years and to analyze the relationship between Ukrainians and Jews not through the prism of total hostility and destruction, but from the point of view of the understanding that there are always those who will take up arms and those who will give their lives to protect people, wrongfully convicted to death. We mean the memoirs and epistolary of our fellow countrywoman, talented historian, and writer, Uman citizen Nadia Surovtsova (1898-1985), especially in the context of Uman’s Jewish discourse and the growth of the number of Hasidic Jews who arrive every year in the town and often settle here.
Indeed, Uman’s Jewry, Bratslav Hasidic followers, tsadik Nahman – these historical tags actualize the interest in Hasidism of Uman community and whole Ukraine, especially during the pilgrimage of Hasidic Jews, that has already reached forty thousand people. Answers to a lot of questions concerning Uman's Jews can be found in N. Surovtsova’s memoirs, journalistic and historical texts. Just with her name the first information about the search of the Hasidic tsadik Nahman’s grave in the 1970s is linked. N. Surovtsova left memories of famous Jewish compatriots, among which, for example, Ivan Kulyk, her husband Dmytro Olytsky and his sister, N. Surovtsova’s closest friend Kateryna Peshkova; all of them were Jews on their father’s side. That is why the Jewish discourse in the works of N. Surovtsova is considered by the authors through the prism of personal life and scientific activity.