In 1934, the Soviet Union founded the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, an independent communist state for Jews in a remote corner of Russia near the Chinese border. At its peak, this "Soviet Zion," where the official language was Yiddish, attracted more than 5,000 foreign Jewish migrants from all over the world. Did Jewish pioneers come up with this idea and get approval from Stalin or did the Soviet dictator have his own reasons for supporting this migration? Belgian filmmaker Guy-Marc Hinant went to Birobidzhan, the former capitol, to ask these questions and explore this remarkable slice of history. What’s left of Jewish culture there and who’s living in the city now? Hinant focuses on the now-elderly people whose parents settled there and finds their memories tell a very different story from what is seen in the city today.
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