Kishinev’s 1903 pogrom was the first instance in which an event in Russian Jewish life received international attention. The riot, leaving 49 dead in an obscure border town, dominated headlines in the western world for weeks. It intruded on US–Russian relations and inspired a range of wildly contradictory endeavors including the Haganah (the precursor to Israel’s army), mass migration to the United States, the NAACP, and the first version of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. How did this incident come to define so much, and for so long? And how can we understand it in our current political climate, when public outrage is once again focused on the treatment of refugees, violence against women and state-enabled antisemitism?
In his new book Pogrom: Kishinev and the Tilt of History, Stanford historian Steven J. Zipperstein separates fact from myth and demonstrates how a single event 115 years ago, in a provincial town in late-Tsarist Russia, shaped the imagination of a century. Zipperstein is joined on stage by Judge LaDoris Cordell, well-known civil rights activist, former Independent Police Auditor for the city of San Jose and the first female African-American judge in Northern California. Congregation Emanu-El's Rabbi Sydney Mintz moderates this riveting discussion.
“Pogrom is a splendid book that pinpoints the moment at the start of twentieth century when exile in Europe turned deadly in a way that foretold the end of everything. It tells of horrors that occurred street by street, butchery by butchery – told with gripping clarity and an admirable brevity.”
– Philip Roth
Steven J. Zipperstein is the Daniel E. Koshland Professor in Jewish Culture and History at Stanford University. He has also taught at universities in Russia, Poland, France, and Israel; for six years he taught Jewish history at Oxford University. From 1991 – 2007, he was Director of the Taube Center for Jewish Studies at Stanford. His award-winning books include The Jews of Odessa: A Cultural History; Elusive Prophet: Ahad Ha’am and the Origins of Zionism; Imagining Russian Jewry; and Rosenfeld’s Lives: Fame, Oblivion, and the Furies of Writing. He is editor of the Yale University Press/Leon Black Foundation Jewish Lives series.
LaDoris Hazzard Cordell is a retired judge of the Superior Court of California and former Independent Police Auditor for the city of San Jose, California. She is an advocate for improving transparency into charges of police misconduct. She was assistant dean at the Stanford Law School, where she helped develop a program to increase minority recruitment. Within a year, Stanford Law School went from last to first place in enrollment of African-American and Hispanic students, among major law schools. She was the first female African-American judge in Northern California and the first female African-American Superior Court judge in Santa Clara County, California.