Home Page

Welcome to the home page for “Sara’s Century.”

“Sara’s Century” is a 12-episode podcast serial about Sara Mebel (1919-2020), a Jewish woman from the former Soviet Union who left Russia forever on September 11, 2001. Her words are voiced by Dr. Julia Zavadsky. An intimate chronicle of Sara’s personal story 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 Robert Weinberg, a Swarthmore College history professor; his wife Laurie Bernstein; and their school-age son. Not long after Sara arrived, Laurie, now a professor emerita of history at Rutgers University, 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 in the Soviet Union and Sara’s career as a seismologist in the USSR’s Academy of Sciences.

Narrated by Laurie and assistant 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” were posted weekly every Wednesday at 12:01 am from August 1-October 17, 2018.

Please direct all comments and questions to  laurie.bernstein@rutgers.edu

Update: with deep regret, I must announce that Dr. Moritz Mebel died in Berlin on April 21, 2021. One of the greatest joys of connecting with Sara was the way it put us together with her amazing long-lost first cousin and his wonderful family.