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Sara's Century: a 12-Episode podcast about a nearly 100 year old Jewish woman's life in Russia

Grade Level Grades 9-12
Standards Alignment


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“Sara’s Century” is a 12-episode podcast serial about Sara Mebel, a nearly 100-year-old Jewish woman who left Russia forever on September 11, 2001. An intimate chronicle of Sara’s experiences against the backdrop of Soviet history, “Sara’s Century” shows how antisemitism, revolution, Stalin’s Terror, war, and immigration affected one single individual.

When Sara emigrated to the United States, she moved in with an American family: her cousin Bob Weinberg, a Swarthmore College history professor; his wife Laurie Bernstein; and their school-age son. Not long after Sara arrived, Laurie, who teaches Russian and Soviet history at Rutgers University in Camden, interviewed her about life in the Soviet Union. Sara shared stories with Laurie about what it meant to be a Jew in Moscow under communism, what it felt like when the regime arrested her father as an “enemy of the people,” and how she fared in distant Siberia when the German army invaded in 1941. The podcast explores these dramatic moments in Sara’s life, along with the more mundane ones about day-to-day existence  and Sara’s career as a seismologist.

Narrated by Laurie and produced by Robert A. Emmons Jr., “Sara’s Century” is both a lesson in 20th-century history and a deeply moving biography of an ordinary woman rendered extraordinary by virtue of her very survival. It is available on SoundCloud and iTunes, and can be downloaded directly from this website: Episodes of “Sara’s Century” will be posted weekly on Wednesday at 12:01 am from August 1-October 17, 2018. All will remain posted there. 


Discuss the human costs of the war, with particular attention to the civilian and military losses in Russia, Germany, Britain, the United States, China, and Japan.


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