Siberia is a giant region of Russia that extends from the Ural Mountains in the West to the Pacific Ocean in the East. Usually it is only associated with frost, snow, prisons and forests.
First Jews in Siberia were those exiled there from Moscow as early as in the 17th century for political or criminal offences.
Next to them there were Jewish soldiers sent to serve in Siberia by the Russian Tsars.
Some Jews even came to Siberia by their own choice trying to escape the pogroms and poverty of the Pale of Settlement. It is hard to believe, but to bypass the official ban some Jews got fake documents to state themselves as criminals sentenced to Siberian exile.
I invite you to learn the unique and unusual story of Siberian Jews, looking at the private Jewish homes, Synagogues and monuments.
We will discuss and understand the destiny of the Jews exiled to Siberia from Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania by the Soviet government in 1939 - 1940 and those Polish Jews who ran to the East crossing the border of the USSR to escape from Holocaust. Most of them were sent to Siberia by KGB and survived the war there. It is quite amazing but absolute majority of Polish Jews who managed to survive the Holocaust did it in Siberia.
I will also take you to Birobidjan – a Jewish Autonomous region of the USSR and then Russia. It's a small piece of land located on the Far East next to the border with China. It is the land, which was presented to the Jews by the Soviet government, but the gift was never received with appreciation. Today it is still a unique place where a visitor may find the street signs in Yiddish.
Welcome to the kingdom of snow and a treasure box of unique Jewish stories!