Anti-Semitism in Mathematics and Soviet Jewish Response

We are honoured to acknowledge the permission of the authors and publishers of a unique collection in English and Russian, and to bring you authentic documents about Moscow Jewish scientists' lives in the 1960s-1980s, in the USSR.


You failed your math test, Comrade Einstein:
Adventures and Misadventures of Young Mathematicians
or Test Your Skills in Almost Recreational Mathematics
Edited by M.Shifman. World Scientific, 2005

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As educators and activists are aware, Antisemitism was rampant in the professional milieus of the Soviet Union: Jewish academics and students were subject to a numerus clausus in both academia and professional employment. From being at the front of the fields of both scientific or medical research and practice in the USSR, they were pushed further and further back, being barred from collegial cooperation and international conventions as a matter of course.

For those scientiests who applied to go on Aliyah to Israel and immediately lost their jobs, official Soviet Antisemitism in the Sciences represented not only the loss of income or university places -- together with the constant threat of arrest as unemployed refuseniks -- but the loss of their intellectual and professional raison d'etre. Gifted young students and experienced scientists found themselves facing a potential vacuum and their response was to establish the Popular Jewish University in Moscow, to teach Mathematics, and study together -- despite all the risks they incurred.

Today, in commemoration of the founder Bella Abramovna Subbotovskaya, these successful mathematicians and scientists in their own right have come together to address the problems of Antisemitism in Soviet Science, and their Jewish and Aliyah activism during that period, from a range of perspectives.

The Editors. 

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26 Dec 2007 / 17 Tevet 5768 0