Collectivization and Social Engineering: Soviet Administration and the Jews of Uzbekistan, 1917-1939


Zeev Levin seeks to provide a comprehensive picture of government efforts to socialize the Jewish masses in Uzbekistan, a process in which the central Soviet government took part, together with the local, republican and regional administrations and Soviet Jewish activists. This research presents a chapter in the history of the Jews in Uzbekistan, as well as contributing to the study of the socialization process of the Jewish population in the USSR in general. It also contributes to the study of relations among political and government bodies and decision makers. The study is based on archival documents and provides a unique glance at the implementation of Soviet nationalities policy towards Bukharan Jews while comparing it to other national minority groups in Uzbekistan.

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Zeev Levin completed his doctorate at the School of History at Tel-Aviv University, the Department of Middle Eastern and African History (2009), specializing in the Jewish history of Eurasia in the late 19th and 20th centuries. During his post-doctorate he conducted research on Jewish and non-Jewish refugee populations in Central Asia and Siberia during World War II. He is currently serving as lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Head of the Eurasian Unit at the Harry S. Truman Institute for Advancement of Peace.
A note on: Transliteration, Abbreviations, Acronyms and Citations
Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations


Chapter 1: "The Wastelands" - The Jews of Central Asia
Changes in the legal status of Jews in Central Asia
Jewish community organization
How many Jews were there?
Indexes of literacy among the Jewish population
Characteristic occupations and livelihoods

Chapter 2: "We'll change henceforth the old tradition!" – The Bolshevik Revolution in Central Asia
Incorporating Community into State Institutions
Liberating the women
Competing Religion and the Religious Establishment
Dealing with Antisemitism in Central Asia

Chapter 3: ‘Workers of the World Unite!’ – Central Asia and the Nationalities Question
The Nationalities Question and Communist Doctrine
The Nationalities Question and the Jews in the Soviet Union
The Nationality Theory in Practice: The National Delimitation of Central Asia
National and Jewish Sections Activities in Communist Party of Uzbekistan
The Governmental Committee for National Minorities in Uzbekistan
Establishment of the Komzet Committee and the Ozet Society in Uzbekistan

Chapter 4: The Hungry Steppe: The Plans
Types of Agricultural Settlement
Establishment of the first Jewish agricultural artels
The Governtment and Incentives for Settlers
Activities of the Komzet Committee: planning and implementation
Operations of Ozet in Uzbekistan, 1926-1930
Settlement Plans for Jews of Uzbekistan

Chapter 5: The Hungry Steppe: The Implementation
Funding the kolkhozes
Enrollment and Settlement Rates
Everyday life in Jewish kolkhozes
Health and Security
Women in the fields
Interactions with local populations and rural authorities
Summing up the Achievements of Jewish settlement

Chapter 6: Not only in the Steppe: Building an Urban Working Class
Organization of small producers into industrial artels
"Socialist" enterprises
Between equality, internationalization and discrimination
Women in industry
Training for industry

Chapter 7: Reclaiming the Cultural Wastelands: Education for the masses
The Jewish-Bukharan Language
The Jewish-Bukharan press
Soviet Publishing enterprises
Development of Soviet-Jewish school system
Cultural Socialist education: The museum and The Jewish theatre

End of an Era, and an Epilogue


Table of Images and Charts

Cover picture - A reading room in a Jewish neighborhood of Samarkand late 1920s

Map - Map of Soviet Central Asian Republics and areas of Jewish agricultural settlement plans 1926-1930

Chapter 2:

2.1 – Advertisement of a concert titled "Kol Nidrei" (a central pray of Yom Kipur) organized on the night of Yom Kipur Oct. 13, 1929. The program included antireligious address, readings from Shalom Aleikhem and a Jaz concert.
2.2 – Advertisement of an antireligious address held in a club at the Jewish neighborhood of Samarkand followed by a screening of a movie: "Blue Express"

Chapter 5:

5.1 – Plan of a Jewish Kolkhoz: Central building is a club and the offices, service buildings are on the front and back wile the living houses are to the sides. Note the planned electrification.
5.2 – Plan of an "European style" living house

Chapter 6:

6.1 - Jewish Shoe Polisher
6.2 – Jewish Women at the Hujum Factory
6.3 – Jewish Women Toil Artel
6.4 – Jewish Students in a Class

Chapter 7:

7.0 - Latinization Chart (1930)
7.1 - Rakhamim Newspaper (Issue N. 1: May, 14, 1910)
7.2 - Rast Newspaper (1920)
7.3 - Komunistishe Fan (1923- a Yiddish Newspaper)
7.4 - Roshnoi Newspaper (1927)
7.5 - Roshnoi with a Russian subtitle (1927)a
7.6 – Roshnoi with a Latin title (1928)
7.7.0 - Bajroqi Mikhnat Newspaper (1931)
7.7.1 - Bajroqi Mikhnat (1934)
7.7.2 - Bajroqi Mikhnat (1935)
7.7.3 - Bajroqi Mikhnat (1937) Note the fonts that were used for the title were similar to those of the Russian Pravda Newspaper
7.8 - October Newspaper (1933)
7.9 - October (1937) with fonts adaptation
7.10 - Chuvoni Madaniatci Newspaper (1936)
7.11 - Rohi Lenin Newspaper (1936)
7.12 – Group of Jewish Cultural Activists from Khojent (1929)
7.13 - Girls Study
7.14 – Healthcare Training for Girls
7.15 - Jewish School
7.16 - Jewish Theatre Troop of Samarkand (1930)
All those interested in social history of the Soviet Union, history of Stalinism, the history of Central Asia and its peoples, and in particular the history of the Jewish people in the 20th century.