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About the Project and Contributors

The following scholars and volumes are:

Volume 1: The 1920s

Elissa Bemporad is the Jerry and William Ungar Chair in East European Jewish History and the Holocaust, and Associate Professor of History at Queens College and The CUNY Graduate Center. Her first book, Becoming Soviet Jews: The Bolshevik Experiment in Minsk, won the National Jewish Book Award and the Frankel Prize in Contemporary History. Elissa is currently finishing a book entitled Legacy of Blood: Jews, Pogroms and Ritual Murder in the Lands of the Soviets, which will be published by Oxford University Press. She is also the co-editor of Women and Genocide: Survivors, Victims, Perpetrators forthcoming with Indiana University Press. Most recently, Elissa was an NEH fellow, and a Visiting Scholar at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.


Volume 2: 1929–1939: Stalinist Socialism

Deborah Yalen is Associate Professor of History at Colorado State University. Her research focuses on the interaction of Jewish scholars with the Soviet state apparatus during the interwar period. Drawing on sources in Yiddish, Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian, Dr. Yalen studies the ways that Jewish intellectuals, working within the ideological constraints of the Soviet scientific infrastructure, pursued their own research agendas in ethnography, demography, and shtetl scholarship. In addition to a monograph on the history of the Soviet shtetl, she is working on a collaborative international project titled "Ideologies on Display: Jewish Ethnography in the Age of Lenin and Stalin," which will result in a volume of essays and annotated translations of previously unpublished archival materials. In 2017, her contribution to this project is being supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (Fellowships for University Teachers). Her most recent publications include "The Shtetl in the Museum: Representing Jews in the Eras of Stalin and Putin" in East European Jewish Affairs 45/2-3 (August-December 2015); and "After An-sky: I.M. Pul'ner and the Jewish Section of the State Museum of Ethnography in Leningrad" in Going to the People: Jews and the Ethnographic Impulse, ed. Jeffrey Veidlinger (Indiana University Press, 2016). Previous work has appeared in Science in Context, the Moscow-based Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie(New Literary Observer) as well as the online edition of the YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe. She currently serves as Book Review Coordinator for Russian titles for the peer-reviewed journal East European Jewish Affairs.

Arkadi Zeltser is currently Director of the Moshe Mirilashvili Center for Research on the Holocaust in the Soviet Union of The International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. His fields of interest are the Holocaust in the USSR, Soviet propaganda in Yiddish during World War Two, Jewish memory on the Holocaust, Jewish-Gentile relations, and the participation of Jews in the NKVD. He is author of the book The Jews of the Soviet Provinces: Vitebsk and the Shtetls 1917 – 1941, which was published in Russian in Moscow in 2006 and an editor of collection of letters To Pour Out My Bitter Soul: Letters form the USSR 1941 – 1945 that was published in 2016 by Yad Vashem. His book “Memory in the Monuments: Soviet Jewish Identities and the Holocaust” is now preparing to be published by Yad Vashem. He also participates in the current NYU project “A comprehensive History of the Jews in the Soviet Union,” volume “1929-1939/Stalinist Socialism.”


Volume 3: 1939–1945: World War II

Oleg Budnitskii is Professor of History and Director of the International Center for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences at the National Research University—Higher School of Economics, Moscow. His recent books include Russko-evreiskii Berlin (1920–1941) (Russian-Jewish Berlin, 1920–41 [2013], in collaboration with Aleksandra Polian), Russian Jews between the Reds and the Whites, 1917–1920 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), and the edited volumes Vladimir Gelfand, Diary 1941-1946 (2015), Odessa: Zhizn´ v okkupatsii, 1941–1944 (Odessa: Life under Occupation, 1941–44 [2013]), and “Svershilos´. Prishli nemtsy!” Ideinyi kollaboratsionizm v SSSR v period Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny (“It’s Over. The Germans Have Arrived!” Ideological Collaboration in the USSR during World War II [2012, 2014]). He serves as editor-in-chief of the Archive of Jewish History, and is on the editorial board of several scholarly journals, including Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History and East European Jewish Affairs. He is the recipient of various honors and awards, including an Ina Levine Invitational Fellowship from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, a Skirball Fellowship from the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies at Oxford University, a Fulbright Visiting Scholarship in the Department of History at Stanford University, a grant from the MacArthur Foundation, an IREX Visiting Scholar Fellowship at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace. He is currently working on a book project Soviet Jews at War, 1939-1945.

Volume 4: 1945–1953: Post-War Stalin’s Rule

Anna Shternshis holds the position of Al and Malka Green Associate Professor of Yiddish studies and the director of the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. She received her doctoral degree (D.Phil) in Modern Languages and Literatures from Oxford University in 2001. Shternshis is the author of Soviet and Kosher: Jewish Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1923 - 1939 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006) and When Sonia Met Boris: An Oral History of Jewish Life under Stalin (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017). She is the author of over 20 articles on the Soviet Jews during World War II, Russian Jewish culture and post-Soviet Jewish diaspora. Together with David Shneer, Shternshis co-edits East European Jewish Affairs, the leading journal in the field of East European Jewish Studies.


Volume 5: 1953–1967: The Thaw

Gennady Estraikh is Clinical Professor at the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, New York University. From 1988 to 1991, he was the managing editor of the Moscow Yiddish literary monthly Sovetish Heymland. In 1991, he moved to Oxford, England, where he defended his doctoral dissertation, and worked at the Oxford Institute of Yiddish Studies. His books include Soviet Yiddish: Language Planning and Linguistic Development (1996), In Harness: Yiddish Writers’ Romance with Communism (2005), Yiddish in the Cold War  (2008), Yiddish Literary Life in Moscow (2015, in Russian), Yiddish Culture in Ukraine (2016, in Ukrainian), the co-edited volumes 1929: Mapping the Jewish World (2013, winner of the National Jewish Book Award), Soviet Jews in World War II: Fighting, Witnessing, Remembering (2014), and Children and Yiddish Literature: From Early Modernity to Post-Modernity (2016).


Volume 6: 1967–1991

Zvi Gitelman is professor of political science and Preston Tisch Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. He has been a visiting professor at the Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, Central European University (Budapest) and the Russian State University for the Humanities. Gitelman has been a fellow at Harvard, Oxford, University of Pennsylvania, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem Institute, and the Institutes for Advanced Study (Princeton, Hebrew University). He is the author or editor of 17 books about Soviet, East European and Israeli politics. Gitelman’s edited volume, The New Jewish Diaspora: Russian-speaking Immigrants in Israel, the U.S. and Germany, was published in 2016 by Rutgers University Press. His book A Century of Ambivalence: The Jews of Russia and the Soviet Union (2001) has been translated into Japanese and Russian. Gitelman’s current research is on World War Two and the Holocaust in the Soviet Union.


Volume 7: Jews of Central Asia, Caucuses and Crimea

Zeev Levin is a graduate of the School of History at Tel-Aviv University, the Department of Middle Eastern and African History. However, his research subject goes well beyond the traditional scope of this field. In his PhD project he dealt with Jewish History in Soviet Central Asia. Zeev may best be described as a historian specializing in the Jewish history of the Middle East and Eurasia (The Southern parts of the Russian Empire, USSR – The Muslim Republics) in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Within this field, he had intensively dealt with the history of various Jewish groups and their interactions Vis a Vis their Muslim neighbors. During his Post-Doctorate conducted research on Jewish and non-Jewish refugee populations in Central Asia and Siberia during World War II, uncovering a less-studied chapter of the Holocaust and war behind the front lines. Since 2014, serving as a research fellow and coordinator of Central Asia research group at the Harry S. Truman Institute at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (http://truman.huji.ac.il/)

Participation by:

Vadim Altskan is the Project Director for the International Archival Programs at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. He directs archival research and development of digital collections on the history of Jewish communities and the Holocaust in 22 countries, covering Balkans, Baltics, Caucasus, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia.

He is responsible for archival acquisitions in these regions and for implementing the U.S. Holocaust Museum’s mission to rescue the historical evidence and to make Holocaust-related archival materials available to scholars and general audience.

Vadim Altskan joined the USHMM staff in 1993.Prior to coming to the Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies in 1999, he served as a Historian and Director of the USHMM Benjanim and Vladka Meed Registry of  Holocaust Survivors.

Vadim Altskan specializes in modern East European, Balkan, and Jewish history, and the Holocaust. He has published articles on the Russian Jewish History and the Holocaust in the Soviet Union.

Born in Ukraine, Vadim earned degrees in History and Archival studies from the Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow.


Diana Dumitru is an Associate Professor of History and currently the head of the Department of History at Ion Creangă State University of Moldova. Her fields of expertise include the Holocaust in Eastern Europe, Soviet history, ethnic relations, nationalism, and the politics of history. Dr. Dumitru was awarded prestigious fellowships, including Gerda Henkel Stiftung fellowship, the International Institute for Holocaust Research Postdoctoral Fellowship for Study and Research at Yad Vashem, and the Rosenzweig Family Fellowship for research at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. She as authored over twenty articles and two books.  Dr. Dumitru’s second book The State, Antisemitism and the Collaboration in the Holocaust: The Borderlands of Romania and the Soviet Union was published by Cambridge University Press in 2016. Her World Politics article, "Constructing Interethnic Conflict and Cooperation: Why Some People Harmed Jews and Others Helped Them during the Holocaust in Romania" received the 2012 Mary Parker Follett Award for the best article or chapter published in the field of politics and history, awarded by the American Political Science Association.


David E. Fishman is a professor of Jewish History at The Jewish Theological Seminary, teaching courses in modern Jewish history. Dr. Fishman also serves as director of Project Judaica, JTS's program in the Former Soviet Union (FSU), in collaboration with Russian State University for the Humanities (Moscow) and Kyiv-Mohyla Academy University (Kiev). Project Judaica has published nine guides to documents on Jewish history and culture in the former Soviet archives.

Fishman is the author of Russia’s First Modern Jews, The Rise of Modern Yiddish Culture and other studies on East European Jewry. His latest book is The Book Smugglers: Partisans, Poets and the Race to Save Jewish Treasures from the Nazis (ForEdge, 2017).


Alexander Frenkel (born 1961) — historian, translator, bibliographer; executive director, Jewish Community Center of St. Petersburg, Russia; editor-in-chief, bi-monthly Russian Jewish journal “The People of the Book in the World of Books”; co-editor, collections of scientific articles “On the History of Jewish Music in Russia” (in Russian; 2001, 2006, 2015). Author of research papers on the history of Jewish music and Yiddish theater in Russia, the history of the Holocaust, problems of Jewish book publishing and bibliography.



Alexander Ivanov is a researcher, lecturer and administrator of the Interdepartmental Center “Petersburg Judaica” of the European University at St. Petersburg, Russia. Since 2007 he is a curator of the Petersburg branch of the International archival project on Jewish documentary sources in depositories of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus carried out by the Russian State Humanitarian University (Moscow) and the Jewish Theological Seminary (New York). Among his recent publications are the guide-book Jewish Documentary Sources in Saint Petersburg Archives, vol. 1–3, in cooperation with M. Kupovetsky (St. Petersburg: “MIR”, 2011, 2013, 2015); and articles: “To the Jewish Country! “: Representations of Birobidzhan in Soviet Mass-Media, 1920s – 1930s, in: Malgorzata Maksymiak, Susanne Marten-Finnis, Michael Nagel (eds.): Promised Lands, Transformed Neigbourhoods and Other Spaces. Migration and the Art of Display, 1920-1950 / Länder der Verheißung, Verpflanzte Nachbarschaften und Andere Räume: Migration und die Kunst ihrer Darstellung, 1920-1950 (Bremen: Edition lumière, 2016), pр. 49–84; Creating the Portrait of the Jewish People: Photo Archive of Semen An-sky’s expeditions, in Etnografia Nova / The New Ethnography (Warsaw) 07|2015 / 08|2016. Dr Adam Czyżewski (ed.), pp. 322–361.


Magdalena Kozłowska holds a PhD in Jewish Studies from Jagiellonian University. She works as assistant professor at the University of Warsaw. Her scholarly interests range from the history of the Bund to the question of “orientalization” and problems of modern Israel. She recently published a book on bundist youth movement in interwar Poland.





Lara Lempert is the head of the Judaica Center at the National Library of Lithuania. Her field is the cultural history of the European Jewry, more specifically - Jewish classical texts and their integration in Jewish education in various settings; Jewish book and press; and day-to-day life of Lithuanian Jewry.