Week of events highlights Russian culture

All are invited to sample a wide variety of events

Firelech, a Russian Jewish ensemble, will perform during Russian Culture Week

A local Jewish and Israeli performance ensemble that brings to life the music of their grandparents’ Russian villages, a cinematic journey into how the Holocaust impacted one Russian boy’s childhood and a visit from an activist alum just returned from political demonstrations in Moscow -- these are just a few of the events to be featured during Brandeis’ fifth annual celebration of Russian Culture Week.

Jointly sponsored by the Russian Studies Program, the Russian Club and the Brandeis Genesis Institute for Russian Jewry, the events run from March 6 through March 10.

Irina Dubinina, director of Russian Language Program, says that Brandeis has one of the highest percentages of Russian speakers of schools in the Boston area, but that the celebration isn’t just for them.

“There are a lot of complexities inherent in the word ‘Russian’,” she says, noting that it can refer to language, ethnicity or geography. “Russian Culture Week includes everyone.”

The week kicks off on Tuesday, March 6, with a lecture from Olga Golovanova ’10, a political activist who will have just returned to the United States from demonstrations against the Putin regime in Moscow. Her talk, “The Snow Revolution and the Thaw of Putin’s Regime,” will take place in Rapaporte Treasure Hall at 7 p.m., just days after the Russian presidential election. Russian refreshments will be served.

On Wednesday, March 7, at 7 p.m., as part of the German, Russian and Asian Languages and Literature “World War II in Cinema” series, there will be a screening in Lown 002 of the 1962 film “Ivan’s Childhood.” Famed Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky takes viewers on an emotional journey, delving into how one boy’s childhood is destroyed by the war. The film will be shown in Russian with English subtitles, and traditional Russian appetizers will be served.

International Women's Day is on Thursday, March 8, and is a national holiday in Russia, when women of various ages, married or single, with children or without, receive flowers and appreciation. In celebration of the day, the Brandeis Russian Club and friends will present a talent show and share traditional Russian dishes in honor of all women. The event will be held in Rapaporte from 7 to 8:15 p.m.

The community will then enjoy a concert by the Boston-based Russian Jewish ensemble Firelech, which will be held in the Shapiro Campus Center theater from 7 to 8:30 on Friday, March 9. They’ll perform songs of Eastern-European and Russian descent in both Yiddish and Russian languages. Russian desserts will be served.

The week will conclude Saturday, March 10, with an authentic Russian Ball from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. in the Lurias. DJ Belo will spin Russian hits and Top 40 favorites during this semi-formal dance party. Desserts will be served.

Dubinina gives much of the credit for the exciting and varied schedule of events to students from the Russian Club, saying, “It is their desire, their drives, that puts this together.”

President of the club, Lev Gorfinkel, says the prominent and welcoming Russian community on campus is one of the reasons he chose to study at Brandeis, and has taken part in Russian Culture Week since his freshman year.

“To me, Russian Culture Week is about bringing visibility to the Russian community on campus, and educating the greater Brandeis community about Russian culture, food and history,” he says.

Admission to all events is free, and reservations are not required. For more information contact Lev Gorfinkel.

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