Episode 48: “Soviet-Jewish Alienation within the “Bagel & Lox Culture”

radio613 interviews Vlada Bilyak – creator of a new documentary entitled ‘Soviet-Jewish Alienation within the “Bagel & Lox Culture.”‘ As Bilyak writes, “[T]his is a short documentary I created exploring my feelings of alienation and authenticity doubts within dominant Jewish culture in North America as a Soviet Jew who emigrated from the former USSR as a child. The documentary contextualizes my experiences within interviews (mostly done on Skype) with other 20-something Soviet Jews and my mother.”

Be sure to watch the documentary on YouTube: part 1 & part 2.

Our interview follows up on the poignant questions and stories  in the documentary about anti-semitism and xenophobia, immigration to North America and the normative culture that exists here.

Click here to listen (right-click to download)

One Response

  1. Hi Vlada,

    I really loved your doco. It would be great to see this project expanded and the themes explored more, with glitzy production 🙂

    One idea you could explore is a critique and break down of ideas of “authenticity”. I felt like the “jewish man in conservative dress” (etc) that you mentioned was as much a stereotype as it is a spectacle, just as “bagels and lox” are. I guess I am thinking about the way people talk about “authenticity” as a (cultural) product, or commodity in which (as far a spectacles go) can never really be attained by anyone (before I wrote this I had to look up what “lox” is – I ad never heard of it before. My first guess was leg/sox). I think these issues are issues around ownership – how to take ownership of identity, but how to do this without delegitimising others – or can anyone ever take ownership, and where does that lead us? But also I think I am trying to ask can any questions around “authenticity” even be considered legitimate, when such spectacles are so inherently tied to authority, power, and privilege.

    Does this make sense? I’m not sure it does, but I will try and find some reading that might make this clearer. Sometimes I have half formulated ideas that kinda make sense in my head, but don’t quite get there when I try to write it down.

    I was really moved when you were talking about asking the question “do you consider youself an authentic Jew?” [my memory of the question]. Whenever people have asked me this I have never really known what to say, and am often surprised by my responses (neither “yes” nor “no” ever seems sufficient an answer). I kinda wrote a bit about this for me here: http://jewonthis.wordpress.com/2010/04/10/who-do-you-think-you-are/

    Thanks again, it really is a great project

    Take care,


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