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Seminar "Jews in Siberia: history and cultural heritage"

On July 1-5 the scientific and educational seminar " Jews in Siberia: history and cultural heritage." was held in Omsk. The seminar was organized by the Laboratory of Jewish civilization at the faculty of history of Omsk state University named after F. M. Dostoevsky together with the center" Sefer " with the financial support of the grant of the President of the Russian Federation for the development of civil society, provided by the presidential grants Fund.

The opening of the seminar took place on July 1 at the faculty of history with the welcoming words of the Vice-rector Yashchuk T. F. and President of the Omsk Jewish community G. S. Friedman.

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The first day of the seminar assumed a rich educational and cultural program. Immediately after the opening plenary lecture by Dr. Vladimir Levin (Center for Jewish art, Jerusalem) "Jews in Siberia, Siberian Jews or Jewish Siberians: concepts and contexts of history and culture of ethno-religious minorities", devoted to the discussion of the concepts of "Siberia" and "far East", the place and role of the region in the history of Russian Jewry, correct use of geographical concepts in different research contexts


In the afternoon, students and teachers of the seminar went on a thematic tour of the Jewish Omsk, during which they got acquainted with the history of the Jewish presence in Omsk, saw the objects of historical and cultural heritage of the city associated with Jewish history, and visited the operating synagogue, one of the oldest synagogues in Siberia.



Within the framework of the school, students were offered mini-courses on the history of architecture ("Synagogue in the big city" by Dr. Vladimir Levin, center for Jewish art, Jerusalem), Jewish art ("Jewish art and material culture in Siberia" by Dr. Anna Berezina, center for Jewish art, Jerusalem), interethnic relations ("Jews in Western Siberia in the system of interethnic relations in the Soviet and post-Soviet period", by. Victoria Gerasimova, Laboratory for the study of Jewish civilization, Omsk), Jewish epigraphy (Mikhail Vasiliev, Sefer Center), folklore and Ethnography (Svetlana Amosova, Director of the research center of the Jewish Museum and tolerance Center, Moscow).


During the seminar, the participants visited the most interesting museums of the city – Omsk state Museum of local history and the Center for the study of the history of the Civil war. They became guests of a unique educational institution-Omsk Jewish Lyceum, where the Museum Director Irina Shpakina conducted a tour for them. It must be noted that the Jewish community of Omsk took an active part in the seminar, cared about the comfort of students and teachers, provided access to all Jewish locations of the city. The organizers, teachers and participants of the seminar were deeply touched by the care and attention of the local Jewish community.

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Of course, students not only listened to lectures and went on excursions. They also looked for "Jewish happiness" and hotly argued about the representation of the Jewish in modern cinema while watching the film "Humorist" (dir. M. Idov).


One of the brightest events of the seminar was a practical lesson at the Old Jewish cemetery. Operating since 1879, it has never been the subject of serious scientific research by epigraphists. Participants of the seminar under the leadership of Mikhail Vasiliev and Vladimir Levin were able not only to apply the skills acquired during the course on epigraphy, but also to take part in scientific discoveries, which, we hope, will soon have their own publications.

On the last day of the seminar, several plenary lectures were offered to the participants. The first lecture "Siberian Jerusalem as an imaginary territory in the Slavic and Jewish traditions" was presented by Mikhail Shapovalov (Laboratory for the study of Jewish civilization, Omsk). It was devoted to the construction of an imaginary Jerusalem among the Orthodox inhabitants of Siberia in the XIX-early XX centuries, the role of the Jewish presence in the region in this context, as well as the transformation of the idea of "Siberian Jerusalem" in modern social and academic discourses.


The seminar ended with a look at the far East by Maria Makarova (Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw) who gave a lecture "we, Birobidzhanians, are quite different"? What and how can be studied in the Jewish Autonomous Region and where the "Birobidzhan" field is located was devoted to the experience of modern field research in the Jewish Autonomous Region. The lecture was presented more answers to questions about who are the residents of Birobidzhan and why some of them say that they are “the Jews in the first generation,” what is contemporary Birobidzhan and Birobidzhan imaginary that is created by those who in different years emigrated from a Jewish autonomy, but have taken Birobidzhan with them, and what are the tools to explore the JAR.


At the closing, the teachers and participants shared their impressions of the five days of busy life in Omsk and immersion in the world of Judaica. Positive emotions, unexpected discoveries, fruitful work and joint plans for the future were the results of the Omsk seminar. 


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On July 1-6 2019 at the premises of  the Omsk state University named by F. M. Dostoevsky Сenter "Sefer" and the Laboratory for the study of Jewish civilization at the faculty of history of OmSU will host a scientific seminar for students "Jews in Siberia: history and cultural heritage", organized with the financial support of the grant of the President of the Russian Federation for the development of civil society.

(in Russian)

The seminar involves an intensive educational program: mini-courses on history and Jewish material heritage in Siberia (architecture, cemeteries, objects), master classes on epigraphy and ethnography from Russian and Israeli researchers. The seminar participants will be offered an extensive cultural program – thematic tours of the city, a visit to the Omsk regional Museum and the center for the study of the Civil war, introduction to Jewish languages and culture, Israeli cinema, as well as a warm welcome and informal communication.

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Participation in the seminar is free, all students are provided with meals, educational and cultural program. Students of Siberian and Ural universities aged 18 and over are invited to participate. Nonresident students are provided with accommodation in the hostel of the Omsk state University. as well as a grant for travel to the venue of the seminar for outstanding students (on a competitive basis).
Applicants are required to complete the application form until May 15, 2019.  For further information please contact Please title your message "seminar in Omsk". Seminar selection results will be sent out by May 25, 2019.