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In 2012, the Federation of Jewish Communities, the umbrella organization for Chabad-Lubavitch in Russia, opened a state-of-the-art Jewish museum in Moscow with the support of the Putin regime. The museum, called “Russia’s first interactive museum of history,” has been both praised for its innovative approach to telling Russian-Jewish history and criticized for offering a version of that history acceptable to the regime. As a member of the academic advisory council that played a key role in designing the museum’s exhibits, Natan Meir participated in the development of the museum from its inception to its completion. He will discuss the museum’s role and function in the context of contemporary Russian society, competing forces at work in the museum’s creation, and debates during the design phase about how to present complex historical phenomena such as the shtetl, Bolsheviks of Jewish ancestry, and the Holocaust in the Soviet Union.
Natan M. Meir is the Lorry I. Lokey Associate Professor of Judaic Studies at Portland State University. His research interest is modern Jewish history, focusing on the social and cultural history of East European Jewry. Meir is the author of Kiev, Jewish Metropolis: A History, 1859-1914 and co-editor of Anti-Jewish Violence: Rethinking the Pogrom in East European History. His newest book is Stepchildren of the Shtetl: The Destitute, Disabled, and Mad of Jewish Eastern Europe.