University of TorontoAnna Shternshis

Anna Shternshis holds the position of Al and Malka Green Professor of Yiddish studies and the director of the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. She received her doctoral degree (D.Phil) in Modern Languages and Literatures from Oxford University in 2001. Shternshis is the author of Soviet and Kosher: Jewish Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1923–1939 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006) and When Sonia Met Boris: An Oral History of Jewish Life under Stalin (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017). She is the co-editor-in-chief of East European Jewish Affairs. Shternshis created and directed the Yiddish Glory project, together with an artist Psoy Korolenko, the initiative that brought back to life the forgotten Yiddish music written during the Holocaust in the Soviet Union. She lectures widely around the world and is a frequent guest on radio and TV shows worldwide (CBC, NPR, BBC, and more). Her work on Yiddish Glory, has been featured in printed media, TV and radio in over 25 countries.

Lectures:

  • Singing and Laughing Against Fascism: Lost and Found Soviet Yiddish Music of World War II
    (can also be done as a lecture-concert, together with Psoy Korolenko)
    Based on the recently discovered the archive of the Kiev “Cabinet” for Jewish Culture, the program tells a story of how Soviet Yiddish speakers made sense of World War II through music. It features Yiddish songs cursing Hitler, praising Stalin, mourning the destructions of European Jewish communities and celebrating Jewish heroism in the Red Army and in the Soviet home front.
  • When Sonia Met Boris: Jewish Life in the Soviet Union under Stalin
    (can also be done as a lecture-concert, together with Psoy Korolenko)
    Based on almost 500 oral histories with Soviet Jews of “Stalin’s generation”, the program discusses how ordinary Jews raised families, build careers, and made friends while living in the society that often discriminated against them. In a form of a lecture/concert the program also features Soviet Jewish stories, anecdotes, songs and jokes in Russian and Yiddish.
  • Why Are Russian Jews The Way They Are?
    Why do Russian Jews do not consider practicing Judaism important to being Jewish? Why do many of them eat pork, insist that their children excel in Math and Chess, and prefer classical music to Klezmer? Based on archival documents, oral histories and popular culture, the lecture discusses the history and the future of Russian Jewish identity worldwide.
  • Evacuation and Escape of Soviet Jews during World War II
    Almost 1.4 million Soviet Jews and 250,000 Polish Jewish refugees survived World War II in the eastern part of the Soviet Union. Based on hundreds of oral histories and archival documents, the lecture discusses the challenges of survival and return, and uncovers details of this very little known part of the history of the Holocaust and World War II.