Library Archive Museum


Professor John D. Klier Corob Professor of Modern Jewish History [01.06.2007]
I would like to thank you in my name, and my colleagues in the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at University College London, for the English and Russian copies of The Hope and the Illusion/Nadezhdy I razocharovaniia. I have placed copies in both the Departmental and the University Libraries.

As a specialist in the field of East European Jewish History, I am aware of how the accepted narrative of Jewish history during the Soviet period has been restricted to the doleful fate of Judaism as a religion, and to the antisemitic campaign of Late Stalinism. This ignores the significant history of attempts to transform the Jews of Eastern Europe both culturally and economically, and the significant role played by philanthropic organizations like ORT (which of course had its birthplace in Tsarist Russia).

It was a pleasure to receive a book that endeavours to explore the broader and more complex picture, especially of how Soviet Jews (and their foreign allies) sought to fulfill the maskilic (or should one better say biblical) dream of Jews settled on the land and engaged in productive undertakings. The album produced by ORT graphically demonstrates both the enthusiasm and the difficulties that attended this venture.

I am struck too by the quality of the photographs which the authors found in the ORT archives. It is a reminder that the vanished world of East European Jewry included very much more than primitive shtetlakh. The historical narrative provided by D. Dymshits and A. Ivanov provides just the amount of vital information that the non-specialist reader requires.

May I also comment on the high production values of the book. The designers and printers have done an excellent job. The book calls out to the reader to pick it up and hold it in the hand. I am also pleased to see the inclusion of a CD with the work. I suppose that this is not a surprise given ORT's expertise in providing training in the virtual realm.

I teach a number of course devoted to the history of the Jews in the Soviet Union. You can be assured that I will be sharing this album with my students.

With thanks and best wishes
Yours sincerely,

Professor John D. Klier
Corob Professor of Modern Jewish History

Ilana Dana [26.03.2007]
We ackowledge with thanks the receipt of the book The Hope and the Illusion. The search of the Jewish Russian Homeland. A Remarkable Period in the History of ORT, which You so kindly donated to the Jewish National and University Library.
The book describes the important chapter in our people history and will be greatly appreciated by researches and scholars.

On behalf of Jewish National and University Library I wish to express our sincere thanks for your contribution.

Ilana Dana
Gifts department

Martin & Linda Behr [26.03.2007]
We received the Photo Album of the Russian homeland yesterday. It is absolutely stunning and we showed it off with great pride to our friends. Thank you so much for a wonderful production.

Best regards,
Martin & Linda Behr

Dorienne Levitt [26.03.2007]
Thank you for the wonderful book “The Hope and the Illusion”. I read it through last night and was fascinated.

I'd like to congratulate all those involved in this amazing project.
I really need to sort through the boxes and albums that lie about at ORT House and somehow get the information to you for the WO archives. There is, I am quite sure, a wealth of information on ORT’s extraordinary history.

Dorienne Levitt
South Africa

Celeste [26.03.2007]
The new World ORT publication, The Hope and the Illusion is a fascinating book. The authors did an excellent job, I especially liked Valery Dymshits pages 9 - 23 - kudos.


Shimon Peres [26.03.2007]
A publication indeed serves to highlight the importance of history as a building block of the future.
ORT has undoubtedly played a significant role in Jewish history and I trust your organization will continue to cement this position as a central component of its development. I wish you and all of ORT’s extended family every success in your future endeavours.

With all good wishes and best regards,

Sincerely yours,
Shimon Peres

Colette Avital [26.03.2007]
Thank you for this very beautiful book “the Hope and the Illusion” which throws an interesting light on Jewish history in the Ukraine, the Crimea and the Birobidzhan. Both the text and the photographs are remarkable.
Please convey to the ORT leadership my heartfelt gratitude for the role it has played, over the past one hundred years in Jewish education.

Best regards,

Colette Avital, MK

Arthur W. Fried [26.03.2007]
I found the volume interesting and illuminating about a period that I was aware of, but, sadly, without sufficient knowledge.
I pray that you go from strength to strength.

Arthur W. Fried

Ehud Olmert [26.03.2007]
Thank you for the book titled, The Hope and the Illusion.

I was interested to learn about the UK’s national education campaign “History matters – pass it on”. Who knows this better than the Jewish people who have experienced the vagaries of history, a path which has shapes our destiny and our future. In this framework, it was fascinating to read about the forgotten chapter of our history in the Crimea, Ukraine and the Far East. ORT’s involvement in this unique experiment in Jewish autonomy must be a source of great pride.
The Soviet Jewish autonomy is an illustrative contrast to the Zionist movement in Eretz Israel at the same time, and if not for the outbreak of the Great Terror and World War Two, our history may have taken an entirely different direction.

I appreciate your thinking of me, and am pleased to add this remarkable book to my library.

Ehud Olmert
Prime Minister

Talya Lador-Fresher [26.03.2007]
Thank you most kindly for your letter and the copy of ORT’s publication, The Hope and the Illusion, which makes fascinating reading and brings a little known chapter of Jewish history to light.
It is reassuring to know that we at the Embassy, and the Jewish community as a whole, can draw continual support from the sterling work of the ORT, both in educating the present generation and in preserving our history for future ones.
Many thanks again for your valuable efforts.

Yours sincerely,

Talya Lador-Fresher
Deputy Head of Embassy of Israel (London)

Arnon Mantver [26.03.2007]
Thank you for the book The Hope and the Illusion. While looking through the book I found an impressive photograph of ORT’s work, making the organization’s important role in the Former Soviet Union.

In the famous words of David Ben Gurion: “a nation without a past is a nation without a future”; the book supports this same sentiment through fascinating photography.

Yours sincerely,

Arnon Mantver

Dr. Eleonora Bergman [26.03.2007]
Thank you so much for sending me the book “Theó Hope and the Illusion”. It is an amazing story and fascinating publication, enriched so much by the CD-ROM attached to the book. I have always heard about Jewish settlement in the Soviet Union, but have seen not much of the photo documentation, and I knew even less about ORT’s activity at that place and time.
Professor Tych also sends his thanks, he asked me to include them in my letter.

With kindest regards,

Dr. Eleonora Bergman
Jewish Historical Institute

Anna Azari [26.03.2007]
I write to you in order to share my impressions of the wonderful photo album “The Hope and the Illusion”, which you presented to the Embassy of Israel in Russia recently.
All of us heard at least something about the Jewish autonomous region of Birobidzhan. Personally, I had bits & pieces of information about attempts to create Jewish agricultural settlements in the Crimea (I even have relatives there), but the whole scope of these activities was a complete surprise for me.
It seems to me, that the album has double value – it both sheds light on the little known, even obscure, part of Jewish history of the U.S.S.R. and has artistic value for the history of photography.
For me, as an incurable Zionist, the story of “The Hope and the Illusion”, also serves as another vindication of Zionist ideals.
I think that this book or even a traveling exibit of the photographs could be used for Jewish “hasbara” purposed in F.C.U., did you consider the idea?

Thank you again for sharing the album with me.


Anna Azari
Ambassador of Israel

Peter Halban [01.03.2007]
I have today received a copy of the Russian and English edition of The Hope and The Illusion. I wanted to tell you how very impressed I am with the publication from every point of view. I now look forward to reading the text in proper detail. I wish the publication the great success it deserves. I have no doubt that it will further enhance ORT’s reputation and show how, over 125 years ORT has always managed to overcome even the most adverse circumstances. The remarkable record of the last 16 years of renewal following the collapse of the Soviet Union is a very positive example of what ORT is able to achieve. However it is of course most important to remember the past, however deeply pessimistic the situation might have been, and to learn from these episodes and to move forward to what one hopes will be a more positive future. This book has certainly helped to achieve this goal.
As a great grand son of Horace de Gunzburg, I feel it is a great pleasure to be associated with ORT today.

Peter Halban

Guy Seniak [01.03.2007]
I have just received the photo Album The Hope and the Illusion.
I would like to congrulate you, and all those
who have collaborated to produce this splendid, exciting and passionating
No doubt that this album will be for me very helpfull to contact, motivate
and bring new people to join the ORT supporters and to contribute to it's
educational and social projects.

Friendly regards to all,

Guy Seniak
Union ORT - World ORT Representative in France



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