Russian Jews Rank High in Awards for Heroism; Jewish Cultural Activities Continue

Although Jews rank seventh in population among the various nationalities in the Soviet Union, they are fourth in number among the heroes who have received awards in recent months for exploits at the front or for unusual feats in production, it was learned here today.

At the same time it was announced that a history of the warrior traditions of the Jewish people from ancient times until the present will shortly be published here. Famous Jewish historians, who are members of the Jewish Culture department of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, are working collectively on an extensive work which will examine the Jewish attitude towards warfare over a period of several thousand years.

Other information reaching here today from various far-flung points in Russia indicate that Jewish cultural activities are continuing despite the grave military crisis.

BIRO-BIDJAN JEWISH THEATRE GEARS ITSELF TO WAR EFFORT

The official State Theatre in the Jewish autonomous region of Biro-Bidjan has geared itself to the war effort, according to reports received here. Its present task, as outlined by its director, H. Helfand, is to “extend its repertory so as to reflect the heroic struggle being waged by the Jewish people, on a par with the entire Russian people, against fascism; and to show Jewish fighters and partisans as heroes who are bringing fame and honor to the Jewish nation.” In line with this policy, the theatre has produced several plays about individual Jewish Red Army men and guerrilla fighters. It has also presented Jewish classics, works by Sholem Alechim, Bar Kochba by Halkin, Professor Mamlock by Friedrich wolf and many others. These plays have been presented to capacity audiences in the towns, to workers on collective farms and to groups of soldiers.

Members of the Biro-Bidjan Jewish Theatre have also played an active role in the Russian war effort, it is reported. Some members have joined the Soviet forces as nurses, others have given blood, and more than 60,000 rubles have been donated to the special Jewish fund to purchase 1,000 tanks and 500 bombers for the Red Army.

The Kharkov Jewish State Theatre, which has been transferred to Samarkand, has produced many Jewish dramas and Russian plays translated into Yiddish during the past six months, according to reports reaching here. A new production on a war theme is being prepared by the writers Khashechetvatsky and Bergholtz. The theatre has also given a number of concerts for Red Army organizations. The report states that not only Jews, but also Russians and Uzbeks attend the performances.

Here in Kuibyshev the Jewish composer Alexander Drein is writing music to the poems of the Yiddish poets Leib Kvitko, Itsik Fefer and others. According to reports from Tashkent, the Jewish composer Pulver is putting music to poems by Peretz Markish and S. Halkin. In besieged Leningrad, M. Milner is composing an opera based on Halkin’s Bar Kochba, and similar cultural activities are proceeding in other parts of the country.

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