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  • Participants in the conference on Jewish-Russian and Israeli-Russian literature

    Participants in the conference on Jewish-Russian and Israeli-Russian literature

    University Hosts Conference on Jewish-Russian and Israeli-Russian Literature

    Date: 2020-01-26 Hour: 13:31

    Researchers and Russian-language authors in Israel recently gathered for a conference on Jewish-Russian and Israeli-Russian literature.  The conference was hosted by Bar-Ilan University's Norman and Berman Department of Literature of the Jewish People.

    Jewish-Russian literature, a well-established field in the humanities, has been written in the Russian language by Jews all over the world since the beginning of the 19th century.  Israeli-Russian literature, on the other hand, is literature written in Israel, in the Russian language, mainly by immigrants, and has existed for about a hundred years. 

    Israeli-Russian literature is rarely translated into English or Hebrew. Among members of the Israeli-Russian literary community, there are Russian writers who see themselves as Israelis and want to be accepted by the Israeli community.  They strongly advocate for their writings to be translated because they want to feel at home in Israel not as residents, but as Israeli writers.  Others see themselves as Russian writers living in Israeli society who belong to the great tradition of Russian literature.  They are less concerned about whether their writings are translated.  However, the heritage of this literature deserves to be collected, preserved and studied.

    The conference was organized by Prof. Roman Katsman, of the Norman and Berman Department of Literature of the Jewish People.  Katsman is eager to pay scholarly attention to both Jewish-Russian and Israeli-Russian perspectives.  "In every literary community there are always discussions between different poetic schools. For me, as a scholar, the purpose is to include all of them in a research project that will enable us to view this phenomenon in all its complexities," he says.  Katsman's new book, dedicated to Russian literature, will be published in Russian next month by Academic Studies Press in Boston, in collaboration with the St. Petersburg-based publishing house BiblioRossica. He is also planning to establish an archive of Russian-Israeli literature at Bar-Ilan University.

    Russian children who immigrated to Israel at a very young age grew up in Hebrew culture, yet maintained their Russian culture and language. While written in Hebrew, their poetry, which has become very popular in Israel, expresses memories of their Russian roots. Some of these poets, including Rita Kogan, Yael Tomashov, Alex Rif and Nadia-Adina Rose took part in the conference. 

    The conference also included a writers evening dedicated to the memory of Mikhail Yudson, a renowned Israeli Russian writer of prose, critic, and deputy editor of the Israeli journal of Russian literature Artikl, who passed away in November 2019.  The evening featured the finest authors of Russian literature in Israel, including David Markish, Dina Rubina, Yakov Shekhter, Dennis Sobolev, and Pavel Amnuel, who delivered readings from their works.

    Prof. Katsman recently established collaboration with the Kadima Publishing House, with whom an academic series of monographs and books, written in Hebrew and dedicated to Russian-Jewish and Russian-Israeli literature, will be published.

    A new MA program in Jewish Russian and Israeli Russian Literature will be offered jointly by the Joseph and Norman Department of Literature of the Jewish People and the Department of Comparative Literature at Bar-Ilan University. Registration is currently underway.