JTS Cosponsors Academic Conference in Kiev, Ukraine on Writer Sholem Aleichem

Press Contact: Beatrice Mora
Office: (212) 678-8950
Email: bemora@jtsa.edu

An academic conference commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of acclaimed writer Sholem Aleichem took place Wednesday, June 29 through Friday, July 1, 2016. The conference was cosponsored by the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities in Ukraine (VAAD) and Project Judaica, a program of The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS).

In addition to 28 papers presented by scholars from seven different countries, the conference featured two nights of public programming, a round table of writers and theatre personalities, excursions to two museums dedicated to Sholem Aleichem, an art exhibition, and a master class at a local university given by Dr. David Roskies, Sol and Evelyn Henkind Chair in Yiddish Literature and Culture and Professor of Jewish Literature atJTS.

“Sholem Aleichem spent most of his adult life in Kiev and New York City and loved both cities,” said Project Judaica Director and Professor of Jewish History Dr. David Fishman, “so it was natural for JTS, a major American center for the study of Jewish literature, to join forces with VAAD to mark the 100th anniversary of Sholem Aleichem’s death.

“Sholem Aleichem is renowned and beloved among Ukrainian Jews. His statue stands in the center of the Kiev, and there are two commemorative Sholem Aleichem museums—in his native town of Pereyaslav and in Kiev. In the U.S., his works continue to reverberate in the Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof. He is a bridge between countries, peoples, and generations, and this conference will advance knowledge and appreciation of him and the Yiddish culture he represents.”

Project Judaica is a joint academic program in Jewish Studies conducted by JTS at the Russian State University for the Humanities (RSUH) in Moscow and at the National University Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (NUKMA) in Kiev. Instruction is provided by visiting professors from JTS and local instructors in Hebrew and Yiddish languages, Bible, Rabbinic literature, Jewish history, Jewish philosophy and thought, and modern Jewish literature and culture.

VAAD, created in 1991, incorporates 265 organizations from 94 cities of Ukraine, including 63 religious communities, 56 city communities, 17 educational structures, 55 cultural organizations, 10 associations of ghetto and concentration camp prisoners, 13 Jewish newspapers, 15 structures of social protection, 19 youth organizations, and five associated member organizations. VAAD’s mission is the creation and building up of structures whose activities are aimed at the ethnic revival and strengthening of ties between Jewish organizations.