HomeAbout the Project and Contributors

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in the Age of Lenin and Stalin," which will result in a volume of essays and annotated translations of previously unpublished archival materials.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.

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.

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/)


Efim Melamed is a Kiev based historian, and literary scholar. He is the author and editor of a number of books, among them two about George Kennan the elder (published in Russian in 1981 and 1988), articles and publications on the history of Russian literature, history of Jews in Russia, Ukraine and USSR. In the early 1990s he began to study and publish documentary sources on the Jewish history and then was involved into "Project Judaica" Jewish archival survey – a joint research program of Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Russian State University for Humanities and State Archival Service of Ukraine – as a coordinator, editor and compiler of the Ukrainian series of archival guides. Three of these have been published: “Jewish Documentary Sources in Kiev Archives” (in co-authorship with M. Kupovetsky, 2006), “Jewish Documentary Sources in the Regional Archives of Ukraine: Volhynia, Zhitomir, Rovno, Cherkassy Regions” (2009), “Jewish Documentary Sources in the Regional Archives of Ukraine: Nikolayev, Odessa, Kherson Regions” (2014). Since 2015 he has been taking part in the “Shvindler Project for the history of the Jews of the Soviet Union” of New York University.


Historian and archivist Mikhail Mitsel was born in 1953. He grew up in Lvov (Ukraine), and in 1978, he graduated from Lvov State University.

In the 1980s, he worked in the museum "Kiev Fortress" as a researcher and tour guide. In the 1990s, he was a researcher at the Institute for Jewish Studies in Kiev.
In 1998, he moved to the USA. He is an archivist, specializing in Eastern European Jewish history, at the Archives of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in New York. Mitsel is the author of many articles and books in English, Russian, Ukrainian and Polish including “The Final Chapter”: Agro-Joint in the Years of the Great Terror (Kiev, 2012), the photo-album The American Brother: The “Joint” in Russia, the USSR and the CIS (Jerusalem, 2004) (co-authored with Michael Beizer), Jews of Ukraine in 1943-1953: A Documented Study (Kiev, 2004), Jewish Religious Communities in Ukraine: Kiev, Lvov: 1945-1981 (Kiev, 1998), List of the 1863 Insurgents Jailed in the Kiev Fortress (Przemyśl, 1995).


Benjamin Nathans, the Ronald S. Lauder Associate Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, chaired the committee of scholars hired by Ralph Appelbaum Associates to help design the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow, which opened in 2012.  His multiple prize-winning book, Beyond the Pale: The Jewish Encounter with Late Imperial Russia, has been translated into Hebrew and Russian. He is the co-editor (together with Gabriella Safran) of Culture Front: Representing Jews in Eastern Europe, and is currently completing a book entitled To the Success of Our Hopeless Cause: A History of the Soviet Dissident Movement, as well as the first complete annotated translation of the autobiography of the Russian-Jewish historian Simon Dubnov,The Book of Life: Memoirs and Reflections.  Professor Nathans’ essays have appeared in the New York Review of BooksThe Nation, the London Review of Books, the Jewish Review of Books, the International Herald Tribune, and other publications.  He has held fellowships from the Open Society Foundation, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, and other organizations.


Gertrud Pickhan is Professor of East and Central European History at the Free University of Berlin. After teaching at the Bundeswehr University in Hamburg from 1985-1992, she was a research fellow at the German Historical Institute in Warsaw from 1993-1997. From 1997-2000 she taught at the Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture in Leipzig, where she also served as deputy to the Founding Director. The research focuses on the historic cultural landscape of East- and East Central Europe, which was largely shaped by its multiethnic and intercultural circumstances. Plurality and diversity and the resultant contacts and conflicts are being studied in various projects.



 Alexandra Polyan received her PhD in linguistics from the Institute of Linguistics, Russian State Academy of Sciences. She is a senior research fellow at the Department of Jewish Studies at the Institute of Asian and African Studies, Moscow State University and a Yiddish instructor at the Russian State University for the Humanities.





Evgenij Rozenblat is currently Associate Professor of universal history at the Brest State University, Belarus. His research interests include the history of Poland, history of national minorities, and inter-ethnic relations in Belarus (1917-1945 years), anti-Semitism, and the Holocaust. He graduated from the historical Faculty of the Ural State University in 1983. Starting in 1989 he taught at the Brest State Pedagogical Institute. From 1993 - Brest State University. Since 2000 – Ph.D.  (Institute of history of the Belarus National Academy of Sciences on the theme "the Nazi policy of genocide against the Jewish population in the western regions of Belarus. 1941-1944 "). From 2004 have an academic title docent. February-June 2002-internship in Oxford (the Oxford  Centre  of  Hebrew  and  Jewish  studies), in 2004- have an International Prize of Charles Hoffmann for scientific achievements. A total more then 80 publications in Jewish history.


Born and raised Berliner Miriam Schulz is a Ph.D. Candidate in Yiddish Studies at Columbia University. She completed her B.A. in Judaic Studies followed by a M.A. in Modern Judaism and Holocaust Studies at Freie Universität Berlin. She worked both at the Jewish Museum Berlin and the Topography of Terror and is currently a research assistant for the project “Protecting Memory: Preserving and Memorializing the Holocaust Mass Graves of Eastern Europe.” Her main interests include modern cultural and intellectual history of Jews in Eastern European generally and in the Soviet Union specifically as well as Holocaust Studies. Miriam was awarded both the “Scientific Award of the Polish Ambassador in Germany” and the “Hosenfeld/Szpilman Memorial Award” for her monograph Der Beginn des Untergangs. Die Zerstörung der jüdischen Gemeinden in Polen und das Vermächtnis des Wilnaer Komitees (Berlin : Metropol, 2016).


Jeffrey Veidlinger is Joseph Brodsky Collegiate Professor of History and Judaic Studies and Director of the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. He is the author of the award-winning books The Moscow State Yiddish Theater: Jewish Culture on the Soviet Stage  (2000), Jewish Public Culture in the Late Russian Empire (2009), and In the Shadow of the Shtetl: Small-Town Jewish Life in Soviet Ukraine (2013).  He is the Editor of Going to the People: Jews and Ethnographic Impulse (2016).  Professor Veidlinger is a Vice-President of the Association for Jewish Studies, Associate Chair of the Academic Advisory Council of the Center for Jewish History, and a member of the Academic Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  He is currently working on a book about the pogroms of the Russian Civil War.


Vital Zajka was born in Belarus, and studied physics at the Belarusan State University in Minsk. He developed an interested in the Jewish cultural heritage in Belarus and attended a one-year course at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies (now part of University of Oxford). He then worked at the Francis Skaryna Center in Minsk, specializing in research on the history of Jews in Belarus and Eastern Europe, and in Jewish-Belarusan cultural relations, having published several works in the field in Belarusan and English.

After moving to the United States Vital Zajka worked at the NYPL and at Yeshiva University, and received a master degree in library and information sciences for Pratt Institute in New York. Mr. Zajka worked as an archivist at the American-Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History and the YIVO Institute for Jewish research, where he is currently an Information Manager in the Archives, Library and Photo Archives. He has overseen a number of archival projects, including arrangement and description of the Soviet Jewry Movement collection and the American Jewish Congress records. He participated in selection and development of the Center for Jewish History information management and digital assets management systems, and in a current digitization effort at YIVO named the Edward Blank YIVO Vilna Collections.

Mr. Zajka continues to pursue his interest in the East European Jewish history, particularly in the field of the North-Eastern (Litvak) dialects of Yiddish and Litvak sub-ethnie of Ashkenazic Jewry.