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Jewish Autonomous Region (Russia)

Evreĭskaâ avtonomnaâ oblasth

Last modified: 2022-12-31 by valentin poposki
Keywords: birobidjan |
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Еврейскиая автономная область / ייִדישע אווטאָנאָמע געגנט

Flag of Jewish Aut. Region image by Tomislav Šipek, 20 February 2020
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Presentation of Jewish Autonomous Region

(Note: You need an Unicode-aware software and font to correctly view the Cyrillic text on this page. See here transliteration details).

  • Name (English): Jewish Autonomous Region • (Russian): Еврейскиая автономная область | Evreĭskaâ avtonomnaâ oblasth • (local): ייִדישע אווטאָנאָמע געגנט | Yyidyʃʕ Ɂwwþɂonɂomʕ Gʕgnþ
  • Local official language: Yiddish
  • Capital (Russian): Биробиджан | Birobidẑan • (English): Birobidzhan
  • Area: 36 000 km2 (~13 900 sq.mi.) • Population: 197 500 inhabitants in 2000
  • Status: Autonomous region (автономная область | avtonomnyĭ oblasth) within the Russian Federation
  • Federal District: Far-East • Economic region: Far East
  • License plate code: 79 • Ham radio code: EA • ISO 3166-2 code: YEV
  • Flag adopted on 1996.10.01 • Coat of arms adopted on unkn. date

J.A.R. was established according to the USSR Presidency Committee (a.k.a Stalin) decision of 28.3.1928 and was declared as the J.A.R. in 1934. The name J.A.R. is a little misleading since the Jewish population never raised more than 25% of the region population (in the early 50’s) and now the Jews are about 5000-7000 people which is less than 5% of the region population.
Dov Gutterman, 17 November 1998

One of the more bizarre Soviet attempts at national engineering, the Jewish Autonomous Region was established in 1934 as the national homeland of all Jews. World Jewry, very sensibly, declined to emigrate to their “homeland”, which today has a Jewish population of under 6%.
Stuart Notholt

The Jews represent there only 5.3% of the local population.
Pascal Vagnat, 29 June 1997

The Soviet Regime decided to establish JAR as an alternative for the Zionist Movement . There were few natives but the majority of the Jews in JAR arrived from the European part of Russia. The idea didn’t catch the Jews and only about 35,000 of them (from more than a million) immigrate to JAR. Most of them left back to the European Russia. They were Ashkenazi’s Jews. In 1970 only 10 % of the population was Jews and now they are less than 5% of it and declining. There is nothing "Jewish" in the region or city flags.
Dov Gutterman, 18 November 1998

Description of the flag

If the proportions of the flag are 240:360, the width of each horizontal stripe is 93-6-2-6-2-6-2-6-2-6-2-6-2-6-93. These stripes symbolize of course the rainbow. The white field could remind us of the white field of the Israeli flag. Adopted first of October 1996. Proportions 2:3.
Pascal Vagnat, 29 June 1997

Flag of Jewish Aut. Region image by Tomislav Šipek, 20 February 2020

Here is variant with coat of arms, but unknown status:
Tomislav Šipek, 20 February 2020

Regarding the flag of the "Jewish Autonomous Region" in Russia, a colorful "rainbow" looking flag, there was some controversy that it appeared to be similar to the overall "Gay Pride" (LGBT+) movement's variety of similar-looking flags. I just found the below link to a 15 Oct 2013 Russian article discussing this controversy:

Miriam Elder is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

(partial comments from the article)
'The Kremlin's top flag expert has declared that the local flag of Russia's Jewish Autonomous Region, similar to a pride flag, does not violate the country's ban on LGBT propaganda.
"Regarding the similarity of this flag with the symbol of the gay movement, we explain that not every rainbow image is linked to sexual orientation," Georgy Vilinbakhov, a Kremlin advisor, reportedly wrote in an official response to an unnamed resident of the far eastern region who had raised concerns over the flag."
Bill Garrison, 12 September 2022

Coat of arms

COA of Jewish Aut. Region image by António Martins, 08 August 1999

The coat of arms is a French XIXc. shield, which colour is Russian aquamarine (dark green). The proportions are 9:8. The upper and lower parts of the shield are charged with horizontal stripes white-blue-white, each colour 1/50th of the height of the shield. The blue stripes symbolize the rivers Bira and Bidjan. The center of the shield is charged with a tiger of Ussouri in gold with black stripes. The tiger is going to the right and faces us. The law indicates that the coat of arms will be used for the creation of the standards of the head of the administration and of the president of the legislative assembly. I don’t know how this looks like. The blue and white stripes on the shield remind also of the Israeli tallith.
Pascal Vagnat, 29 Jun 1997

The tiger occurs in the J.A.R. coat-of-arms (as well as on the symbols of the Maritime Region) simply because this animal lives in these areas (Panthera tigris altaica) — and probably it is the most spectacular creature in Birobidjan.
Jan Zrzavy, 18 Nov 1998


Flag of Jewish Aut. Region image by Tomislav Šipek, 20 February 2020 Ssource: from 

Earlier reported flag of Birobidjan city

Flag of Birobidjan city image by Muhamed Mesic, 17 Nov 1998

The light blue-white-yellow triband is Birobidjan flag.
Dov Gutterman, 17 Nov 1998

This flag, in light blue, is listed under number 130 at the chart Flags of Aspirant Peoples [eba94] as: "Yidishtim Yehudit (Jewish National Region) - South-East Siberia" — an erroneous attribution.
Ivan Sache, 15 Sep 1999

"Yidishtim Yehudit" means "Jewish Jewish" (first word in Yidish and second in Hebrew). I think that in Russia they used the term "evrey" for Jewish and someone maybe used two translations of it in order to make a new term…
Dov Gutterman, 21 Sep 1999

Isn’t this very similar to the historical flag of Chukotka flag?…
António Martins, 08 Jun 1999

Russian triband with Magen David

Russian triband with Magen David image by Muhamed Mesic and António Martins, 11 Jul 1999

One of my old friends now living in Moscow visited Birobijian and there he saw a strange flag hanging from the windows in Birobidzhan: one is just like Russian tricolour, but everything is fimbriated in red, and it also includes a Magen David in the center, also fimbriated in red (the star itself in yellow), the ratio is 2:3, and he saw this flag also aboard a ship
Muhamed Mesic, 17 Nov 1998