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    Jewish Autonomous Region

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    Take our your globe. Okay, no one owns globes anymore. Go to Google Maps. Even better.

    Start typing "Jewish". See Google's result suggestions? The first one should be "Russia, Jewish Autonomous Oblast". Click on it, and see where it takes you.

    Strange place, isn't it? Can't recognize the surrounding areas? Zoom out. Then zoom out again. Yep.

    Nestled in the far east, on Russia's border with China, is the Jewish Autonomous Region (or Oblast). It's 6000 kilometers from Moscow (but only 5000 from Jerusalem). It's as far from a Jewish homeland as a place could possibly be (and we include Texas).

    Yet the name. And the history. In the 1930s, Joseph Stalin, in his hateful wisdom, decided to relocate the Soviet Union's various ethnic groups. The Jews were given the cold, desolate patch of land close to the Pacific Ocean. There, they were supposed to build a Soviet Zion, where Yiddish was spoken and Jewish culture could prosper. Where all those pesky Jews could go, as opposed to taking up space in various Soviet cities. Just saying.

    Obviously, it didn't happen. At the peak, there were 17,000 Jews living there. The figure has now declined to 2,000 and figures to go down even further.

    And yet, here it is, a stark reminder of times passed.

    But at least there's something on the globe named after Jews, right?

    Verdict: Borderline Jew.

    March 16, 2012

    See Also



    George Koval

    Alexander Krasnoshchyokov

    Isaac Steinberg
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