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The Russian make-up brigade

February 27, 2014

Early in January, I spent a weekend at a planning retreat for Limmud FSU Canada (it’s the first ever Limmud FSU in Canada, and yes, expect to hear more from me about it soon). We were all asked to bring an artifact that spoke to our Russian selves, and as part of the identity-digging activity…

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Reclaiming the Soviet Holocaust film industry: My article in Tablet

June 13, 2013
Soviet Holocaust films - Olga Gershenson's Phantom Holocaust Review

I’m very excited about my latest article for Tablet on a new book about Soviet Holocaust films. The book is called The Phantom Holocaust: Soviet Cinema and Jewish Catastrophe, by Olga Gershenson. (Yes, that’s the book I was reading while waiting to pick up my visa application.) I’m not sure I did justice to the…

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My KGB file – Yes, there was probably a file with my name on it

March 7, 2012
My KGB file

*Updated at bottom Excuse me while I continue to geek out on Soviet government memos… As I flip through, I’m continually amazed at the level of specificity in these memos, and to realize that “Big Brother” genuinely read all letters received from North American activists and government officials. (Paging Amnesty International.) We like to complain…

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Apparatchiks with typewriters, or, in the Soviet archives

February 28, 2012
Russian Cyrillic typewriter of the type found in Soviet archives

I recently got my hands on a research collection from the Soviet archives of government documents on Jewish immigration, dating from 1957 to 1989. The book was published in 1998, just as the post-collapse euphoria came to a close and Russian archives began to fold back in on themselves, so these documents are no longer…

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Do Russian and Soviet memorabilia an immigrant make?

June 23, 2011
Anna Sui makeup display representing Russian tchotchkes

I talked about Russian tchotchkes a few weeks ago. And then recently, I spotted this make-up collection from Anna Sui, and though it’s called “Dolly Girl” and references wind mills, it has an unmistakable waft of the Slavo-folksy to me. $27 worth, no less. I’m not a fan of the Russian “look”—tchotchkes, nostalgia, kitsch, call…

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Russian Cossack dance-off, circa 1941

January 29, 2011

Something about this Cossack dance-off video doesn’t feel quite real – the soldier’s pristine outfits, the well-coordinated dance moves – but still fun. And Soviet, so, you know, topical. (Via Boing Boing)

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Go Soviet at the CNE

September 9, 2010
Soviet military souvenirs at the CNE in Toronto

There is a buyer for everything. Like these Soviet military souvenirs (ok, let’s call a tchotchke a tchotchke), which we spotted at a Russia booth in the international pavilion at the CNE. Best of all, they’re not even originals. There are enough customers to warrant reproductions. Some of the items looked genuine, but most were…

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