Acharei Kiddush: The Life and Work of Vasily Grossman

Join member Carol Japha as she discusses the life and work of Vasily Grossman (1905-1964), a Russian-Jewish writer whose masterwork, Life and Fate, has been called "a twentieth-century War and Peace."

The work wasn’t published until decades after his death, as the Soviet authorities censored and then silenced Grossman for his uncompromising focus on Jewish experience as well as his explicit criticisms of the regime. 

Carol Japha will read excerpts from his writings and talk about Grossman’s life and work, his rising Jewish consciousness, the world he described with such passion and truth, the Soviet system he came to condemn, and his vision of a world of moral responsibility and individual freedom.

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Vasily Grossman was born in Berdichev, Ukraine, to a well-to-do, secular Jewish family. He studied chemical engineering, began writing fiction in the 1930s, and became a celebrated war correspondent.  As he witnessed the terrible events of World War II, his writings came to express his passionate concern for the fate of the Jews, the Russian people, and humanity.

Grossman's mother perished in the mass killing of the Jews of Berdichev in September 1941, an event that haunted Grossman throughout his life and that was central to his fiction.  Traveling with Soviet troops as they pushed the German army back, he visited the killing grounds of Ukraine; wrote an article, "The Hell of Treblinka," that was used as a source in the Nuremberg trials; and edited The Black Book documenting the fate of Soviet Jews in the Holocaust.


Carol Japha is a writer, editor, and painter, who, as director of the Jewish Media Fund at the Charles H. Revson Foundation, developed a variety of curricular materials relating to Jewish history and culture.  She majored in Russian Studies at Barnard College.

 

 

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