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(From Yid., Gezelshaft kultur; Culture Society), the All-Ukrainian Society for Promoting the Development of Jewish Culture, an independent organization, Communist in ideology, that worked mainly in Yiddish. Gezkul’t was founded in Kiev on 26 September 1926 (the date of its charter) and was active until the early 1930s.

According to its charter, Gezkul’t’s aim was “to help the Jewish working masses of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic to strengthen and expand existing cultural institutions and organize new ones.” The society proposed to realize its main aim through material assistance to cultural institutions serving the needs of children and youth. It also set itself the goal of raising the cultural and educational level of the adult population. It supported professional courses, schools for adults, Jewish clubs, libraries, and theaters. Gezkul’t also promoted activities to advance Jewish music and art. The society took care to obtain the approval of the People’s Commissariat of Education for its activities. Gezkul’t devoted special attention to popularizing the Yiddish language. It conducted its administrative work and its main activities in Yiddish. Among these activities was the publication of Yiddish literature, which it carried out through its support of the Kultur-lige.

Gezkul’t did not limit itself to supporting existing cultural institutions, but also set out to organize new foci of Jewish culture, especially in the periphery. Local chapters were created to carry on the Society’s work in more remote localities. Gezkul’t was run by a central All-Ukrainian Executive Committee and by district executive committees. Local chapters organized Jewish music and poetry evenings, art exhibitions, and other cultural events. Well-known Jewish cultural, literary, and artistic figures participated. Gezkul’t also sponsored the creation and development of several Yiddish theaters.

Gezkul’t was financed by the income from its activities, membership dues, and loans. However, this income proved insufficient for carrying out all the work that the society wanted to accomplish. So in 1931, just five years after its founding, having failed to obtain government financial support, Gezkul’t ended its existence.

Suggested Reading

Vse-Ukrainskoe obshchestvo sodeistviia razvitiiu evreiskoi kul’tury (The All-Ukrainian Society for Promoting the Development of Jewish Culture), “Ustav obshchestva” (Charter of the Society), TsGAMLI Ukrainy (Central State Archive and Museum of the Literature and Art of Ukraine), fond 586, opis’ 2, file 1, pp. 1–2.



Translated from Russian by I. Michael Aronson