Sunday, 26 February 2017

Festival of Contemporary Russian Jewish American Culture at Center for Jewish History

New York, Feb. 23, 2017 – A first-time, daylong Festival of Contemporary Russian Jewish American Culture will be celebrated in New York on Sunday, March 5, introducing attendees to scholars, writers and visual artists whose work exemplifies the best in the field.

The festival, co-hosted by the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) and the Center for Jewish History, will consist of three panels of speakers that will be free and open to the public, followed by an evening ticketed music concert. The festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Center for Jewish History (15 West 16th Street).

The timing aligns with the publication of a special edition of the journal East European Jewish Affairs, “The New Wave of Russian Jewish American Culture,” supported by a grant from Genesis Philanthropy Group, a foundation which develops and enhances Jewish identity among Russian-speaking Jews worldwide.

The special issue of East European Jewish Affairs to be debuted at the conference focuses on the various modes of artistic composition in which Russian-speaking Jewish Americans have played leading roles in the last 20 years – including art, film, literature, and music – with a focus on Russian-speaking Jewish American women.

Festival highlights will include Anya Ulinich, award-winning author and current deputy art director at the Forward, whose original graphic image is featured on the cover of the journal’s special edition; Polina Barskova, a cutting-edge poet, who writes in Russian and teaches at Hampshire College; and photographer Alina Bliumis, who follows in a long line of Russian Jewish photographers and whose work engages very American questions about identity.

Said Ilia Salita, president and CEO of Genesis Philanthropy Group, “Just as generations of immigrants have before them, young Russian Jews who came to the United States in the 1980s and 90s are today driving American literature and American art from strength to strength. The uniqueness of this cohort’s multi-cultural identity makes their art special and relevant to their peers, and is poised to both invigorate the American Jewish community and make a pivotal contribution to American culture more broadly. This festival offers undeniable proof of these Russian American Jews’ success to date, but beyond that, it makes a compelling argument for the Russian-Jewish community’s vital and unlimited potential as well as for our work to nurture and strengthen its foundation in a critical effort to ensure its vibrant future.”

Added Anna Katsnelson of Columbia University, “The most recent wave of Russian-speaking Jewish immigration to North America (1970s - 1990s) incubated a rich panoply of talented artists, filmmakers, musicians, and writers; all of whom conveyed cultural capital from the Soviet Union to the West, and who will be featured at this festival.”

ABOUT GENESIS PHILANTHROPY GROUP

Genesis Philanthropy Group’s mission is to develop and enhance a sense of Jewish identity among Russian-speaking Jews worldwide. GPG initiates and supports projects and institutions that are focused on ensuring that Jewish culture, heritage, and values are preserved in Russian-speaking Jewish communities across the globe. Additional information about Genesis Philanthropy Group is available at gpg.org.

ABOUT THE JOURNAL EAST EUROPEAN JEWISH AFFAIRS

In its fifth decade, East European Jewish Affairs serves as the leading global journal dealing with both Jews in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union as well as Ashkenazic Jews wherever in the world they may be. Serving as a bridge between Jewish Studies and Russian and East European Studies, as well as between the scholarly community and the public, the journal publishes scholarly submissions of single- or multi-authored articles, review essays, and annotated archival documents as well as commissions original works of literature and art.

ABOUT THE AMERICAN JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY

The American Jewish Historical Society is the oldest, ethnic, cultural archive in the United States. AJHS provides access to more than 25 million documents and 50,000 books, photographs, art, and artifacts that reflect the history of the Jewish presence in the United States from 1654 to the present. Additional information about the society can be found at www.ajhs.org.

ABOUT THE CENTER FOR JEWISH HISTORY

The Center for Jewish History illuminates history, culture, and heritage. The Center provides a collaborative home for five partner organizations: American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum, and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. The partners’ archives comprise the world’s largest and most comprehensive archive of the modern Jewish experience outside of Israel. The collections span a thousand years, with more than 5 miles of archival documents (in dozens of languages and alphabet systems), more than 500,000 volumes, as well as thousands of artworks, textiles, ritual objects, recordings, films, and photographs. Additional information about the Center can be found at www.cjh.org.