Back to the Soil
In 1924, in collaboration with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the Soviet government offered parcels of land in the Ukraine, Belarus, and Crimea to former merchants, whose work had been outlawed under Communist rule. The JDC provided financial, legal, and agricultural support. Jewish families left the ghettos, and resettled in these new rural colonies, where they learned how to farm. In May 1927 the colonies were documented by James H. Becker of Chicago, my grandfather, who shot the 1000 feet of 16mm film that comprise this film. By 1938, more than 250,000 Soviet Jews would settle in 215 colonies, across 2.5 million acres of land. Their fate has been well documented elsewhere. This is a story of their journey back to the soil.