Among dissatisfied with the situation in modern Ukraine, I often meet inhabitants of Odessa — not so young, very well-deserved, not supporters of Putin and the obvious Ukrainian patriots. It is from this part of the Odessa public I hear another moaning about “forced Ukrainization” and the prohibition of another Russian actress to have a concert in the port city, I can’t help wondering to what extent all these people lack basic understanding of time and place.
These people consider themselves defenders of Russian culture. But what they protect is no Russian culture. It is a Jewish culture, “tamperevident” with Yiddish, its own native language or language of their parents. If not for the Bolsheviks, “rassulova” all the peoples of the Empire linguistic apartments, which abolished the very concept of Russian-Jewish culture, no one would be in the slightest doubt. Babel is a Jewish literature. Cliffs — a Jewish chanson. Zhvanetskiy is a Jewish satire. Kartsev and Ilchenko is the Jewish theatre. Yes, in Russian it gets much more popularity, but the Jewish this never ceases to be. Surprisingly, two of the greatest native of Odessa — Korney Chukovsky and Vladimir Jabotinsky — a city not particularly associated. Maybe because in the works of both, there was nothing “specifically Odessa”, the fact that people from Odessa were melted in their own glory in Moscow? The “specific Odessa humor”, most of those, though unsuccessful, and therefore comical translated from the Yiddish phrases, the unique intonation of a number — I don’t Yiddish, but not Russian?
But all the specifics Odessa “Russian culture” consists only in the fact that this is not the culture of the Jewish shtetl and Jewish culture of the port. So here is brighter and more convex. Therefore, even tragedy there seems to be a farce.But in Odessa, there were no more Jews, does not have the critical mass that creates this amazing Yiddish culture, not always accurately translated into Russian. And all the attempts of the culture to develop not as a memory but as a process, inevitably end in slapstick. Over the decades, I have visited dozens of Jewish restaurants. Their chefs were poles, Czechs, Ukrainians, Russians, Germans, anyone.
All the centuries of its existence Odessa was surrounded by Ukrainian sea — not Black, but human. If we forget about Imperial ambitions, Odessa — a city in Bessarabia, a large part of the population — the Ukrainian peasants. And naturally, with the development of civilization, these people move from their villages and towns to the big city. If in the recent past, this relocation was accompanied by Russification — because the indigenous inhabitants of Odessa were confident that their dialect is the language of the nobility, intellectuals and in General of a big city — but now people simply have the opportunity to preserve their native language, use it in life and work. Who knows what would be, if such opportunity was the son of a Ukrainian washerwoman If Korneychukov became Korney Chukovsky, but always retained affection for the language of your mother? And why should we be deprived of the life chance of other such Stake?
Odessa dialect will still be sound on the streets of port town — just because this, spiced with Yiddish, it was not just his calling card, but also the language of the different national communities. But now, in the era of the Ukrainian political nation, Ukrainian language will take more and more space in the life of Odessa and in the end will replace the Russian accent with life and off the streets (although I admit that the Ukrainian language in Odessa, became a living language will also be very specific).
Will come true that one hundred years ago, predicted the Vladimir Jabotinsky. Jewish grandma will not cook stuffed fish his grateful grandchildren — now’s a good old girl prepares the hummus in Haifa. But Ukrainian grandmother still delight us in Odessa for its dumplings and fried mullet. It is also delicious.