Fistfights at the Moscow Choral Synagogue: Ethnicity and Ritual in Post-Soviet Russia
In this article I investigate ritual life at the Moscow Choral Synagogue, the largest and longest running Orthodox synagogue in the Russian capital. Unlike many Eastern European synagogues, this synagogue is a thriving prayer community due to its unique congregation of Russian, Georgian, Bukharan, Mountain, and visiting Western Jews. I focus on a fistfight that took place between an Israeli and a Georgian Jew during prayer. I detail how Russian and Georgian Jews interpreted the incident to be a result of their different ethnicities, Russian and Georgian respectively. The fight elucidates how ritual in post-Soviet society provides the means for the production of ethnicity and Jewish identity. Arguing for localism within Judaism's transnational ideology, I suggest that Jewish identity, like ritual, is performative and contextual. I also show how the shifting power relations in post-Soviet society have reshaped ethnicity, making state-endorsed market reform a reference point of ethnic differentiation.
Main Topic: Identity and Community Synagogues Jewish Communal Politics Jewish Identity Jewish Community Ritual Ethnicity
Link to article (paywalled), Fistfights at the Moscow Choral Synagogue: Ethnicity and Ritual in Post-Soviet Russia
Fistfights at the Moscow Choral Synagogue: Ethnicity and Ritual in Post-Soviet Russia. 2001: 55-71. https://archive.jpr.org.uk/10.1353/anq.2001.0014