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Russian & Slavic Studies / Religion / Jewish Studies


Doubly Chosen
Jewish Identity, the Soviet Intelligentsia, and the Russian Orthodox Church
Judith Deutsch Kornblatt

"Doubly Chosen has tremendous theological power. It challenges both Christians and Jews to think harder and in fresh ways about their faith traditions."
—Paul Valliere, author of Modern Russian Theology

Doubly Chosen provides the first detailed study of a unique cultural and religious phenomenon in post-Stalinist Russia—the conversion of thousands of Russian Jewish intellectuals to Orthodox Christianity, first in the 1960s and later in the 1980s. These time periods correspond to the decades before and after the great exodus of Jews from the Soviet Union. Judith Deutsch Kornblatt contends that the choice of baptism into the Church was an act of moral courage in the face of Soviet persecution, motivated by solidarity with the values espoused by Russian Christian dissidents and intellectuals. Oddly, as Kornblatt shows, these converts to Russian Orthodoxy began to experience their Jewishness in a new and positive way.

Working primarily from oral interviews conducted in Russia, Israel, and the United States, Kornblatt underscores the conditions of Soviet life that spurred these conversions: the virtual elimination of Judaism as a viable, widely practiced religion; the transformation of Jews from a religious community to an ethnic one; a longing for spiritual values; the role of the Russian Orthodox Church as a symbol of Russian national culture; and the forging of a new Jewish identity within the context of the Soviet dissident movement.

"The phenomenon of Orthodox Christian Jews has been overlooked or ignored by investigators of Soviet and post-Soviet Jewry. As Kornblatt's interviews reveal, however, these converts were fashioning a specifically Jewish form of identity for themselves without analogue in the West."
—John D. Klier, author of Russia Gathers Her Jews

Judith Deutsch Kornblatt is professor and associate chair of the Department of Slavic languages and literature and associate dean for Arts and Humanities at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is author of The Cossack Hero in Russian Literature and coeditor of Russian Religious Thought, also published by the University of Wisconsin Press.

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January 2004
200 pp.  6 x 9
3 b/w photos

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Paper $29.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-19484-0
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