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Birobidzhan (English)
Биробиджан (Russian)
ביראָבידזשאַן (Yiddish)
-  Town[1]  -
Биробиджан, вокзальная площадь.JPG
Station square in Birobidzhan
Map of Russia - Jewish Autonomous Oblast (2008-03).svg
Location of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast in Russia
Location of Birobidzhan in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast
Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Coat of Arms of Birobidzhan.png
Coat of arms
Town Day Last Saturday of May[2]
Administrative status (as of July 2011)
Country Russia
Federal subject Jewish Autonomous Oblast[1]
Administratively subordinated to town of oblast significance of Birobidzhan[1]
Administrative center of Jewish Autonomous Oblast,[1] Birobidzhansky District,[1] town of oblast significance of Birobidzhan[1]
Municipal status (as of November 2004)
Urban okrug Birobidzhan Urban Okrug[3]
Administrative center of Birobidzhan Urban Okrug,[3] Birobidzhansky Municipal District[4]
Mayor[6] Andrey Parkhomenko[5]
Representative body Town Duma[6]
Area (urban okrug) (2010) 169.38 km2 (65.40 sq mi)[7]
Population (2010 Census) 75,413 inhabitants[8]
Rank in 2010 215th
Population (January 2014 est.) 74,791 inhabitants[9]
Density 445/km2 (1,150/sq mi)[10]
Time zone VLAT (UTC+10:00)[11]
Founded 1931[12]
Town status since 1937[12]
Postal code(s)[13] 679000, 679002, 679005, 679006, 679011, 679013–679017, 679700, 679801, 679950
Dialing code(s) +7 42622[citation needed]
Official website
[[:commons:Category:{{#property:Commons category}}|Birobidzhan]] on Wikimedia Commons

Birobidzhan (Russian: Биробиджан; IPA: [bʲɪrəbʲɪˈdʐan]; Yiddish: ביראָבידזשאַן‎) is a town and the administrative center of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Russia, located on the Trans-Siberian Railway, close to the border with China. Population: 75,413 (2010 Census);[8] 77,250 (2002 Census);[14] 83,667 (1989 Census).[15]

Name and geography

The town is named after the two largest rivers in the autonomous oblast: the Bira and the Bidzhan, although only the Bira flows through the town, which lies to the east of the Bidzhan Valley.[citation needed] Both rivers are tributaries of the Amur.


Planned by the Swiss architect Hannes Meyer, it was established in 1931 and became the administrative center of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast in 1934; town status was granted to it in 1937.[12]

Administrative and municipal status

Birobidzhan is the administrative center of the autonomous oblast and, within the framework of administrative divisions, it also serves as the administrative center of Birobidzhansky District, even though it is not a part of it.[1] As an administrative division, it is incorporated separately as the town of oblast significance of Birobidzhan—an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts.[1] As a municipal division, the town of oblast significance of Birobidzhan is incorporated as Birobidzhan Urban Okrug.[3]


Birobidzhan railway station

The chief economic activity is light industry.

Jewish and Yiddish culture

A menorah dominating the main square in Birobidzhan

According to Rabbi Mordechai Scheiner, the former Chief Rabbi of Birobidzhan and Chabad Lubavitch representative to the region, "Today one can enjoy the benefits of the Yiddish culture and not be afraid to return to their Jewish traditions. It's safe without any anti-Semitism, and we plan to open the first Jewish day school here."[citation needed] Mordechai Scheiner, an Israeli father of six, was the rabbi in Birobidzhan. He also hosted the Russian television show, Yiddishkeit. His student, actually born in Birobidzhan, Rabbi Eliyahu Reiss, has taken over the reins since 2010.

The town's synagogue opened in 2004.[16] Rabbi Scheiner says there are 4,000 Jews in Birobidzhan, just over 5 percent of the town's population of 75,000.[17] The Birobidzhan Jewish community was led by Lev Toitman, until his death in September, 2007.[18]

Jewish culture was revived in Birobidzhan much earlier than elsewhere in the Soviet Union. Yiddish theaters opened in the 1970s. Yiddish and Jewish traditions have been required components in all public schools for almost fifteen years, taught not as Jewish exotica but as part of the region's national heritage.[19] The Birobidzhan Synagogue, completed in 2004, is next to a complex housing Sunday School classrooms, a library, a museum, and administrative offices. The buildings were officially opened in 2004 to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast.[20] Concerning the Jewish community of the oblast, Governor Nikolay Mikhaylovich Volkov has stated that he intends to "support every valuable initiative maintained by our local Jewish organizations.".[21] In 2007, The First Birobidzhan International Summer Program for Yiddish Language and Culture was launched by Yiddish studies professor Boris Kotlerman of Bar-Ilan University. [3] The town's main street is named after the Yiddish language author and humorist Sholom Aleichem.[22]

For the Chanukah celebration of 2007, officials of Birobidzhan in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast claimed to have built the world's largest Menorah.[23]


The Birobidzhan Jewish National University works in cooperation with the local religious community. The university is unique in the Russian Far East. The basis of the training course is study of the Hebrew language, history and classic Jewish texts.[24] The town now boasts several state-run schools that teach Yiddish, as well as an Anglo-Yiddish faculty at its higher education college, a Yiddish school for religious instruction and a kindergarten. The five- to seven-year-olds spend two lessons a week learning to speak Yiddish, as well as being taught Jewish songs, dance and traditions.[25] The school menorah was created in 1991. It is a public school that offers a half-day Yiddish and Jewish curriculum for those parents who choose it. About half the school’s 120 pupils are enrolled in the Yiddish course. Many of them continue on to Public School No. 2, which offers the same half-day Yiddish/Jewish curriculum from first through 12th grade. Yiddish is also offered at Birobidzhan’s Pedagogical Institute, one of the only university-level Yiddish courses in the country.[26] Today, the town's fourteen public schools must teach Yiddish and Jewish tradition.


Birobidzhan experiences a monsoonal humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dwb) with very cold, dry winters and warm, very wet summers.[citation needed]

Climate data for Birobidzhan
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) −16.6
Average low °C (°F) −29.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 6
Average precipitation days 2 2 4 6 10 12 13 13 10 5 4 3 84
Source: World Meteorological Organisation (UN) [27]


The bandy club Nadezhda[28] plays in the 2nd highest division, the Russian Bandy Supreme League.

L'Chayim, Comrade Stalin!

A documentary film, L'Chayim, Comrade Stalin![29] on Stalin's creation of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast and its partial settlement by thousands of Russian and Yiddish-speaking Jews was released in 2003. As well as relating the history of the creation of the proposed Jewish homeland, the film features scenes of life in contemporary Birobidzhan and interviews with Jewish residents.

According to The New York Times, Stalin promoted the town as a home for secular Jews.[30]

Twin towns and sister cities

Birobidzhan is twinned with:

See also



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Law #982-OZ
  2. Charter of Birobidzhan, Article 1
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Law #226-OZ
  4. Федеральная служба государственной статистики. Федеральное агентство по технологическому регулированию и метрологии. №ОК 033-2013 1 января 2014 г. «Общероссийский классификатор территорий муниципальных образований. Код 99 605». (Federal State Statistics Service. Federal Agency on Technological Regulation and Metrology. #OK 033-2013 January 1, 2014 Russian Classification of Territories of Municipal Formations. Code 99 605. ).
  5. Official website of Birobidzhan. Andrey Gennadyevich Parkhomenko, Mayor of Birobidzhan (Russian)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Charter of Birobidzhan, Article 16
  7. Russian Federal State Statistics Service. Economic and Social Measures of the Urban Okrugs and Urban Settlements in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast—the Town of Birobidzhan (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Russian Federal State Statistics Service (2011). "Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года. Том 1". Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года (2010 All-Russia Population Census) (in Russian). Federal State Statistics Service. Retrieved June 29, 2012. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Jewish Autonomous Oblast Territorial Branch of the Federal State Statistics Service. Permanent Population Estimate as of January 1, 2014 and the 2013 Average (Russian)
  10. The value of density was calculated automatically by dividing the 2010 Census population by the area specified in the infobox. Please note that this value may not be accurate as the area specified in the infobox does not necessarily correspond to the area of the entity proper or is reported for the same year as the population.
  11. Правительство Российской Федерации. Федеральный закон №107-ФЗ от 3 июня 2011 г. «Об исчислении времени», в ред. Федерального закона №248-ФЗ от 21 июля 2014 г. «О внесении изменений в Федеральный закон "Об исчислении времени"». Вступил в силу по истечении шестидесяти дней после дня официального опубликования (6 августа 2011 г.). Опубликован: "Российская газета", №120, 6 июня 2011 г. (Government of the Russian Federation. Federal Law #107-FZ of June 31, 2011 On Calculating Time, as amended by the Federal Law #248-FZ of July 21, 2014 On Amending Federal Law "On Calculating Time". Effective as of after sixty days following the day of the official publication.).
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Энциклопедия Города России. Moscow: Большая Российская Энциклопедия. 2003. p. 47. ISBN 5-7107-7399-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Почта России. Информационно-вычислительный центр ОАСУ РПО. (Russian Post). Поиск объектов почтовой связи (Postal Objects Search) (Russian)
  14. Russian Federal State Statistics Service (May 21, 2004). "Численность населения России, субъектов Российской Федерации в составе федеральных округов, районов, городских поселений, сельских населённых пунктов – районных центров и сельских населённых пунктов с населением 3 тысячи и более человек" (XLS). Всероссийская перепись населения 2002 года [All-Russia Population Census of 2002] (in Russian). Retrieved August 9, 2014. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Demoscope Weekly (1989). "Всесоюзная перепись населения 1989 г. Численность наличного населения союзных и автономных республик, автономных областей и округов, краёв, областей, районов, городских поселений и сёл-райцентров". Всесоюзная перепись населения 1989 года [All-Union Population Census of 1989] (in Russian). Институт демографии Национального исследовательского университета: Высшая школа экономики [Institute of Demography at the National Research University: Higher School of Economics]. Retrieved August 9, 2014. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. FJC | News | Far East Community Prepares for 70th Anniversary of Jewish Autonomous Republic
  17. FJC | News | From Tractors to Torah in Russia's Jewish Land
  18. Far East Jewish Community Chairman Passes Away Federation of Jewish Communities
  19. [1]
  20. FJC | News | Birobidzhan - New Rabbi, New Synagogue
  21. Governor Voices Support for Growing Far East Jewish Community Federation of Jewish Communities
  22. Back to Birobidjan. By Rebecca Raskin. Jerusalem Post
  23. Breaking News - JTA, Jewish & Israel News
  24. Religion
  25. Kulanu: Birobidzhan: Soviety-era Jewish homeland struggles on
  26. NCSJ - Profiles: Birobidzhan Jewish Community
  27. "World Weather Information Service – Birobidzan". United Nations. Retrieved December 31, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. [2]
  29. L'Chayim, Comrade Stalin!
  30. William J. Broad, "A Spy’s Path: Iowa to A-Bomb to Kremlin Honor", The New York Times (November 12, 2007), p. A19


  • Городская Дума. Решение №242 от 30 июня 2005 г. «Об уставе муниципального образования "Город Биробиджан" Еврейской автономной области», в ред. Решения №166 от 24 сентября 2015 г. «О внесении изменений и дополнений в Устав муниципального образования "Город Биробиджан" Еврейской автономной области, утверждённый Решением городской Думы от 30.06.2005 №242». Вступил в силу после государственной регистрации через 10 дней со дня официального опубликования (11 декабря 2005 г.). Опубликован: "МИГ", №47, 1 декабря 2005 г. (Town Duma. Decision #242 of June 30, 2005 On the Charter of the Municipal Formation of the "Town of Birobidzhan" in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, as amended by the Decision #166 of September 24, 2015 On Amending and Supplementing the Charter of the Municipal Formation of the "Town of Birobidzhan" in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Adopted by the Decision No. 242 of the Town Duma on June 30, 2005. Effective as of after the registration with the state 10 days after the day of the official publication.).
  • Законодательное Собрание Еврейской автономной области. Закон №982-ОЗ от 20 июля 2011 г. «Об административно-территориальном устройстве Еврейской автономной области». Вступил в силу через 10 дней после дня официального опубликования. Опубликован: "Биробиджанская звезда", №54, 29 июля 2011 г. (Legislative Assembly of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast. Law #982-OZ of July 20, 2011 On the Administrative-Territorial Structure of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast. Effective as of the day which is 10 days after the day of the official publication.).
  • Законодательное Собрание Еврейской автономной области. Закон №226-ОЗ от 26 ноября 2003 г. «О статусе и границе городского округа "город Биробиджан"», в ред. Закона №340-ОЗ от 2 ноября 2004 г «О внесении изменений в некоторые законы Еврейской автономной области о статусе и границе муниципальных районов, городского округа». Вступил в силу через 10 дней после официального опубликования. Опубликован: "Биробиджанская звезда", №93, 23 декабря 2003 г. (Legislative Assembly of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast. Law #226-OZ of November 26, 2003 On the Status and the Border of the Urban Okrug of the "City of Birobidzhan", as amended by the Law #340-OZ of November 2, 2004 On Amending Several Laws of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast on the Status and the Borders of the Municipal Districts, an Urban Okrug. Effective as of the day which is 10 days after the official publication.).
  • Weinberg, Robert (1998). Stalin's Forgotten Zion: Birobidzhan and the Making of a Soviet Jewish Homeland: An Illustrated History, 1928-1996. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-20990-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Birobidjan, Birobidjan !, documentary by writer Marek Halter.

External links