James Loeffler: How an American Jewish Opera Star Accidentally Launched the Soviet Jewish Movement

Professor James Loeffer on the 60th anniversary of Jan Peerce’s landmark Cold War Moscow show:

“The walls have ears.” In the Soviet Union, someone was always listening. But when it came to music, the regime built on eavesdropping proved remarkably tone-deaf. That is the lesson that American Jewish opera star Jan Peerce learned during his 1956 Moscow concert tour. Sixty years ago this week, he walked onstage at the Moscow Conservatory and stepped into an unscripted role as the West’s first lifeline to Soviet Jewry in the post-Stalin era. With one last-minute encore, he unwittingly helped spark the Soviet Jewish movement.

Proudly American, sentimentally Jewish, and steadfastly apolitical, Peerce was an unlikely Cold War activist…

Read the rest at the Tablet.