Birobidzhan is the centre of the Jewish autonomous oblast of Khabarovsky Krai. It is located on Sredneamurskya lowland, in 172 kms to the west from Khabarovsk. The climate is monsoonal. Average temperatures of January-21-26,5 c, July + 18-21 C. The population - 86,7 thousand people (1992).
Birobidzhan was based in 1931 on a place of Tikhoretskaya railway station. The name has received from the rivers Bira and Bidzhan. Since 1934 - the centre of the Jewish autonomous region.
Early attempts by the government to relocate the Jews to the Crimea and Ukraine had ended with a severe local backlash. To avoid local opposition the government chose an area where there weren't any locals. Unfortunately for the Jewish migrants, there was a good reason why virtually nobody lived in this region: the winters are extremely harsh, the roads were practically nonexistent, and the land was swampy.
Influenced by an effective propoganda campaign, and starvation in the east, 41,000 Soviet Jews relocated to the area between the late 1920s and early 1930s. But, by 1938 28,000 of them had fled the regions harsh conditions, There were Jewish schools and synagogues up until the 1940's, when there was a A resurgence of religious repression after World War II. The Jewish population was essentially inactive until the late 1980s an early 1990s, when there was something of a revival in Birobidzhan.
Today, students can take Hebrew and Yiddish lessons, as well as Jewish culture classes at schools and two institutes in town. Most of the Jewish population has left for Israel, Europe or the US, and by some estimates only 3,000 Jews remain in Birobidzhan.
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