Farmers of Birobidzhan

Flushed with celebration, his lenses steamed, Liza’s new husband cried out that he’d toiled long enough among books—today he was trading his pen for the handles of a plow. He wanted to farm, he wanted to raise wheat and grapes and pumpkins big as planets for the glory of the Soviet Zion.

A great deal of Birobidzhan’s appeal for Jews the world over was the opportunity to live collectively and farm on a large scale. This reference article from YIVO gives an excellent account of agriculture’s place in Jewish life leading up to the years that bring LAMENT’s heroine and her sister there.
Shifrah Kotchina, deputy from Birobidzhan to the Supreme Soviet, and her “brigade” at work in a field at the Waldheim colony, Birobidzhan, ca. 1935. (YIVO)

These photos come from Ribir.Ru (a Russian site):
Kolkhoz (Collective Farm), Birobidzhan, 1936
Valdheym Kolkhoz (Collective Farm), early 1930’s
Pioneer Leadership in Birobidzhan, by the Bira River, 1935

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