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Report Attempts Being Made to Revive Interest in Biro Bidjan

December 30, 1971
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Jewish sources in the Soviet Union reported today that attempts are being made to revive interest in Biro Bidjan, a province in eastern Siberia which was declared an autonomous Jewish Republic during the 1920s. Very few Jews still live there and there are rumors that Moscow will soon proclaim the province a Soviet Republic, the sources said.

Soviet newspapers have recently published advertisements for doctors, engineers, building foremen and other professionals and skilled workmen to settle in Biro Bidjan, promising them comfortable homes and very good living conditions by Soviet standards. The authorities are also still attempting to persuade Jews to settle in Biro Bidjan.

According to the sources, a Minsk Jew was recently urged by a high official of the Byelo-Russian Ministry of Interior named Kustevitzki, to settle in Biro Bidjan. The official reportedly said he would be living in the “future homeland of the Jews” and would enjoy “a Jewish cultural atmosphere.” The Minsk Jew, not identified by name, has since gone to Israel.


The growing interest in Hebrew studies in the USSR is a further indication that few Jews have any desire to settle in Biro Bidjan. According to Jewish sources, two ulpanim–intensive Hebrew language courses–have recently been established in Leningrad by a teacher Identified only as David. The teacher advertised openly for students and five registered the very day his first handbills were displayed.

Within a few days, 50 students were enrolled, the sources reported. They also reported that protests from the 300 Jewish families in Hust, a town near Kiev, forced local authorities to abandon their plans to close the town’s only synagogue. But the beautiful Ushognov synagogue near Kiev was closed and converted to headquarters of the local orchestra.

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