On January 31 – February 5, 2021, the Winter Online School on Jewish Studies was held. The School was organized by the Sefer Center in cooperation with the International Center for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Center for Slavic-Judaics of the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, with the support of the Genesis Philanthropy Group, the Russian Jewish Congress, the Presidential Grant for the Development of civil Society provided by the Presidential Grants Fund, and Claims Conference. The project is implemented by the winner of the contest "Common Cause" of the charity program "Effective Philanthropy" of the Vladimir Potanin Charitable Foundation.

Two directions, were presented in the winter school: the Digital Ethnography (20 students, 11 tutors and lecturers, 150 free listeners) and the History of the Holocaust and thePolitics of Memory (108 students and 13 teachers).

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Digital Ethnography 2.0

The online school on digital ethnography was a continuation of the work of the summer field school on Digital ethnography : and it was a research track. This means that at the end of the school's work, the participants presented the results of their research projects announced in the school's work:

● The pilgrimage to Uman

● Jewish holidays during the coronavirus pandemic: online folklore

● Digital technologies in religious life

● Challenges of memorialization: representations of the Holocaust in the digital space

The participants carried out research projects in groups of 5 people under the guidance of tutors - one tutor in methodology and a general tutor in Jewish ethnography. All participants noted the opportunity to work together in groups to create a common project as the greatest success.

For the successful completion of the study, the participants received additional materials (modern books, journals and lecture notes from the previous school), and also attended methodological master classes of leading Russian specialists in the field of digital ethnography: Dr.Sergey Sokolovsky (Leading Researcher of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Editor-in-chief of the journal "Ethnographic Review",), as well as Anna Shchetvina (representative of the Sberbank Laboratory).

In addition, the participants had lectures, which were presented within the framework of the declared methodology and corresponding to the specified thematic areas of research, performed by experienced scientists, who analyzed the results of the research presented at the school in highly rated specialized publications in Russia and abroad. These lectures were delivered by Natalia Ushakova, Alexander Arkhipov, Varvara Preter (Chumakova), Alla Marchenko.

The thematic block related to Jewish culture and ethnography was presented by lectures by Valery Dymshits (European University of St. Petersburg) and Maria Kaspina (Department of Jewish Theology and Jewish studies of RSUH).

In addition, the school managed to attract graduates of the previous school, who shared their results with the participants of the second stream.

The results of the work will be released in a collective monograph dedicated to the research of Jewish culture in the field of digital Ethnography, as well as a thematic section and a round table during the Twenty-seventh international conference on Jewish studies

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Feedback from participants:

Alexey Andryushin (Moscow, Russia): Impressions: fire! Honestly, I don't know what words to express, I liked everything very much, I told all my friends, acquaintances, enemies, and so on, that "Sefer" is cool and what highly professional and high-quality projects he does. Meeting new people and professionals (thanks to the organizers: Maria Kaspina and Irina Dushakova for excellent job, no problems, everything was established and optimized, thanks to my tutor Natalia Dushakova methodical hints, seen as a random ideas for my project were born as it evolved and came to a point from which it will be possible to create a research product. And thank you all the lecturers and participants for interesting lectures and presentations, hints and tips). And most importantly-thank you for the selection. I didn't believe it initially when the email arrived. I became one of the 5 in my group and one of the 20 in the stream. I have received so many positive emotions in two weeks that I did not have before. I hope that my enthusiasm will pass on to the organizers, and they will arrange more than one school with the same enthusiasm, and this will not be my last project in the "Sefer". And of course, thank you to "Sefer" for the well-coordinated team work. You're cool!

The History of the Holocaust and the Politics of Remembrance


The program on the History of the Holocaust and the politics of remembrance included lectures of famous professors from Russia and Israel (Ilya Altman, Kiril Feferman and Arkadi Zeltser) and plenary lectures (Oleg Budnitskii (Russia), Gennady Estraikh (USA)), Museum tours and films discussion (Irina Rebrova (Germany), Denis Viren (Russia), Olga Gershenson (USA)), a lecture-concert (Dmitry Zisl Slepovich, USA), theatre show (the play "the Black book of Esther" (dir. E. Berkowitz) was kindly provided by the Russian Jewish Congress).

Part of the lectures and events of the cultural program in the programs of the two streams were open to everyone. As well as the online quest "Flame under the ashes. From the History of the Holocaust" (The project is implemented using a grant from the President of the Russian Federation for the development of civil society, provided by the Presidential Grants Fund). In a playful way, 80 participants in 13 teams (both from among the school's students and people who signed up for the quest on the site) guessed riddles based on facts related to one of the most tragic pages in world history – the Catastrophe of European Jewry. We are especially pleased that the tenth graders from school No. 6 from the distant city Nefteyugansk together with their history teacher were able to take part in the quest!

A separate success of the school and an important final event was the round table "What should we do with memory? Holocaust Memorialization and the Challenges of Everyday Life " (moderators Ilya Lensky (Latvia) and Svetlana Bardina (Russia), speakers: Irina Rebrova, Olga Kartashova (USA), Chaim Sokol (Russia)). The participants discussed the following questions: are monuments places of memory, places of reminder or places of forgetting? Can it be that we put up monuments so that we have an official right outside of these objects not to remember and not to be interested, displacing the trauma? Who is the recipient of the memorial object? Who has more "rights" to this place: the one who comes specifically and shares the memory, or the one who lives here? How much should the memory be tangible and concrete? Are digital memorial projects an attempt to radically break out of the "people" vs. "place" dichotomy? Should there be an ethics of interaction with memorial objects and places of memory? If we accept the view that memory is a kind of dialogue between the living and the dead, can we consider, for example, photographing newlyweds at the Eternal Flame and taking selfies against the background of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe as just two forms of such a trusting dialogue?

Feedback from participants:

Polina Banman (Moscow, Russia): I am overwhelmed by the content of the lectures, the erudition of the lecturers, their sense of humor, their love for what they do, the content of Irina Rebrova's exhibition, the films that Denis Viren showed, especially "Birth Certificate," the scale of what is being done to preserve the memory of the Holocaust. I really liked the lectures of Kirill Feferman. Very informative, with examples, with clear and understandable examples, and even sometimes with humor. An interesting lecture was about the speeches of Hitler, for example, who, as it turned out, wrote his own speeches. The classification of sources, described by I. Altman, will be extremely useful in further work. I haven't read it yet, but I will definitely use his articles on teaching the history of the Holocaust. A. Seltzer's lectures are a storehouse of information about literary sources, which is necessary for my research on the literature of the Holocaust. I am grateful to him for recommending the book Gulag Literature and the Literature of Nazi Camps: An Intercontextual Reading l. Toker. All three lecturers answered the questions in the chat very seriously, without pretending that they were some stupid questions, that, they say, this is something you need to know. For this, thank them very much.



Winter Schools on Jewish Studies

On 31 January – 5 February 2021, Sefer Center will hold a Winter school on Jewish studies (in Zoom format), in cooperation with the International Center for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Center for Slavic-Jewish studies the Institute of Slavic studies, supported by the Genesis Philanthropy Group, the Charity Foundation of Vladimir Potanin and the Claims Conference.

The winter school 2021 will have two directions:

  • Digital Ethnography
  • The history of the Holocaust and the politics of remembrance

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              The history of the Holocaust                   Digital Ethnography