RUSSIA.(Redirected from PETER THE GREAT.)
- Early Period.
- Muscovite Russia.
- The Romanofs.
- Under Peter the Great.
- Catherine II.
- Petition of the White-Russian Jews.
- Paul I.
- The Ḥasidim.
- Alexander I.
- Nicholas I.
- Anti-Jewish Policy.
- Conversionist Measures.
- Conscription Measures.
- The "Poimaniki."
- Educational Policy.
- Expulsions and Special Taxation.
- Abolition of the Ḳahal.
- Alexander II. Favors the Jews.
- Reactionary Attitude of Alexander III.
- Nicholas II.
- Riots at Kishinef and Homel.
- Conditions in 1905.
- —Census Statistics:
- Density of the Jewish Population.
- Congestion of Artisans Within the Pale.
- Wages of Artisans.
- Legal Position.
- Increase of Pauperism.
- Loan Associations.
- Count Uvarov's Report.
- Difficulties of the Uvarov Schools.
- Expedients of the Principals.
- Failure Recognized.
- Artzimovich's Recommendations.
- Education in the Agricultural Colonies.
- Good Effects of the Government's Attitude.
- Later Attitude of the Government.
- Specifically Jewish Schools.
- Talmud Torahs and Ḥadarim.
- Sources of Information.
- Jews Driven from the Pale.
- Effect of the "Temporary Regulations."
- —The Jew in Russian Literature:
- First Attempts.
- Alexander II.
- The "Novoye Vremya."
- Alexander III.
- The Jewish Question a Christian Question.
- Importance of Solving the Jewish Question.
- After the Kishinef Affair.
- —Municipal Government:
- —Periodicals, Russo-Jewish:
- The Anti-Semitic Press and "Sion."
- The "Den" and Russification of the Jews.
- Journalistic Activity in St. Petersburg.
- The "Russki Yevrei" and Assimilation.
- The Second "Razsvyet."
- Aims of the "Voskhod."
- Its Publicistic Activity.
- Its Impartial Attitude Toward Zionism.
- The "Buduschnost" a Zionist Organ.
- —Rural Communities:
- Removal of Jews.
- Committee of 1802.
- Its Conclusions.
- Removal Postponed.
- Removal of 1821.
- Removal from Towns.
- —PolandOwing to the recent disturbances in Russia, the article Poland, which was assigned to a Russian collaborator and which was to have appeared in its proper vocabulary place, was not received. The only other caption under which it could be inserted is that under which it now appears. (Polish, "Polska"; German, "Polen"; Hebrew,
V10p561001.jpg; Russian, "Polsha"):
- Jewish Charter of 905.
- Jewish Coiners.
- Early Jewish Slave-Traders.
- The Tatar Invasion.
- Hostility of the Church.
- The Badge Instituted.
- Prosperity Under Casimir III.
- Extensive Persecutions in the Fourteenth Century.
- Charter of Casimir IV.
- Importance of the Polish Jewry.
- Favorable Reign of Sigismund I.
- Certain Jews Admitted to Denizenship.
- Two Congregations in Cracow.
- Jewish Favorites of Sigismund.
- Converts to Judaism.
- Under Sigismund II.
- Host-Desecration Charges.
- Under Stephen Bathori.
- Pioneers of Talmudic Learning.
- Sigismund III.
- Blood Accusations.
- Study of the Talmud.
- Cossacks' Uprising.
- Accession of the Saxon Dynasty.
- Prevalence of Superstition.
- Period of Decadence.
- Reform Measures.
- First Partition.
- The Second and Third Partitions.
[Much of the history of the Jews of Russia having already appeared under the headings Alexander, Armenia, Caucasus, Cossacks, etc., the present article has been framed so as to include only those facts which are necessary to supplement the data given in those articles.] In some of the territory included within the limits of the present Russian empire Jewish inhabitants were to be found in the very remote past; Armenian and Georgian historians record that after the destruction of the First Temple (587
Jews had lived in Georgia also since the destruction of the First Temple. The ruler of Mzchet assigned them a place for settlement on the River Zanav. This locality was subsequently named "Kerk," meaning "tribute," on account of the taxes imposed upon the Jews. After the capture of Jerusalem by Vespasian (70
Monuments consisting of marble slabs bearing Greek inscriptions, and preserved in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg, and in the museum at Feodosia (Kaffa), show that Jews lived in the Crimea and along the entire eastern coast of the Black Sea at the beginning, of the common era, and that they possessed well-organized communities with synagogues. They were then already Hellenized, bearing such Greek names as Hermis, Dionisiodorus, and Heracles. In the reign of Julius the Isaurian (175-210) the name "Volamiros" was common among the Jews of the Crimea. This was the origin of the Russian name "Vladimir." Most of the Greek inscriptions relate to the liberation of slaves who in obedience to religious vows had been dedicated to the Synagogue. The entire Jewish community thus became the guardian of these liberated slaves.Early Period.
The presence of well-organized Jewish communities in that region serves to prove that Jews lived there a long time before the common era, and supports the statement of Strabo (b. in Pontus 63
Jews from the Crimea moved eastward and northward and became the founders of Jewish communities along the shores of the Caspian Sea and of the lower Volga (see Atel), carrying with them a civilization more advanced than that of the native tribes among which they settled. Under their influence Bulan, the "chaghan" of the Chazars, and the ruling classes of Chazaria adopted Judaism in 731 or 740. The spread of Judaism among the Chazars rendered the entire region of the lower Don, the Volga, and the Dnieper especially attractive to Jewish settlers (see
From the writings of Ilarion, "Metropolitan of Kiev in the first half of the eleventh century, it appears that the local Jewish community possessed very considerable influence. It is also evident that that author's familiarity with Jewish matters was gained by personal contact with Jews, and that he found it necessary to combat the spread of Judaism. In 1321 Kiev, Volhynia, and Podolia were conquered by the Lithuanian grand duke Gedimin, who granted the Jewish inhabitants of these territories the same rights that were enjoyed by his Jewish subjects in Lithuania. These rights were subsequently amplified by the well-known charter of Witold in 1388, under which the Jews of Kiev and of other Russian principalities were accorded full citizenship, not a few of them serving in the body-guards of the Russian princes.Muscovite Russia.
Documentary evidence as to the presence of Jews in Muscovite Russia is first found in the chronicles of 1471. The Grand Duke of Moscow, Ivan III. (1462-1505) was the first Muscovite prince to abolish the feudal organization and to establish a centralized government. The independent towns of Novgorod and Pskov alone remained unannexed to Russia. Novgorod, which was a member of the Hanseatic League, was frequently visited by foreign merchants, who thus helped to introduce Western ideas among the Russian people. The grand duke Ivan was eagerly watching events in Novgorod, where opposing political parties struggled for supremacy. One of these parties strongly favored annexation to the spiritual center of Greek-Orthodoxy, while the other, disapproving the growing religious formalism and ceremonial, attempted to lead the Russians toward the more progressive forms of western Europe. This political and religious unrest prepared a favorable soil for religious heresy. In 1470 the people of Novgorod invoked the aid of Prince Michael Olelkovich, brother of the viceroy of Kiev, in their struggle with Moscow. He brought with him the learned Jew Skhariyah, who converted the priest Dionis to Judaism (see Aleksei; Ivan III., Vassilivich; Judaizing Heresy).
The Judaizing sect rapidly gained adherents and spread to Moscow, where it won the support of influential men standing near to the grand duke. Ivan himself was favorably disposed toward the new religious movement, and for political reasons made no attempt to suppress it. It was with evident reluctance that he yielded to the appeal of the Bishop of Novgorod and the Metropolitan of Moscow to punish the offenders and to check the spread of the heresy. Very probably Ivan attempted to strengthen his influence in Lithuania with the aid of Michael Olelkovich and Skhariyah (see Lithuania). There may have been some connection between the expulsion of the Jews from Lithuania by Alexander in 1495 and Ivan's attitude toward the Judaizing heresy. It is known that, although the Jews were readmitted in 1503, stern measures against the Judaizers were not taken until 1504. At any rate it is evident from many sources that Ivan attempted to further his schemes of conquest in Lithuania as well as in the Crimea by gaining the support of the Jews. Panov comes to the conclusion ("Yeres Zhidovstvuyushchikh," in "Zhurnal Ministerstva Narodnavo Prosvyescheniya," 1876) that Skhariyah (Zacharias) of Kiẹv and Zacharias Guizolfi were one and the same person—a deduction which has very little justification, as may be seen from the facts set forth in the article Guizolfi.
Ivan's dealings with the Jews were not limited, however, to the two Zachariases. There is documentary evidence that the grand duke corresponded with the Jew Khozei Kokos. He instructed the ambassador Beklemishev in 1474 to convey his greetings to Kokos, and in a message to the latter requested him to use his influence with the Crimean khan Mengli-Girei to induce that ruler to send not merely his assertions of friendship, but a formal treaty with Ivan. The grand duke also asked Kokos to assist his agents as theretofore, for which aid he promised due compensation; and he explained that the presents then forwarded to Kokos were of less value than they might have been "because the ambassador was unable to carry much baggage." The grand duke further requested Kokos to abstain from the use of Hebrew script in his correspondence, and to employ instead Russian or Tatar characters. The last request shows that on previous occasions letters in Hebrew had been received and translated at the Muscovite court. Other documents show that Kokos conducted negotiations relating to the marriage of the heir to the Muscovite throne with the daughter of the Prince of Mangup; and in 1486 the Russian ambassador was instructed to inform Kokos that, should his services prove as acceptable as theretofore, he would be rewarded by the grand duke "with palaces, amethysts, and fine pearls."
The grand duke's invitation to Zacharias Guizolfi to reside in Moscow indicates that no restrictions existed with regard to the residence in that city of wealthy and influential Jews. The execution of the Jewish court physician Leo (or Leon) did not affect Ivan's attitude toward the Jews; for in his subsequent correspondence (up to 1500) he still urged Guizolfi to settle in Moscow.
It is known that in the reign of Vasili Ivanovich IV. (1505-33) the Jews were held in ill repute mainly on account of the Judaizing heresy. While there is proof that Lithuanian Jewish merchants carried on trade with and visited Moscow and Smolensk, their transactions were made possible only by the lax enforcement of the restrictive regulations concerning the Jews; the grand duke's special ambassador to Rome, Dmitri Gerasimov, whose mission it was to establish a union between the Greek-Orthodox and the Roman Catholic churches (1526), remarked to the historian Paolo Giovio, "We abhor the Jews and do not allow them to enter Russia."
Muscovite treatment of the Jews became harsher in the reign of Ivan IV., The Terrible (1533-84). Apart from the savage instincts of the czar, from which all of his subjects suffered, he vented upon the Jews his religious fanaticism and hatred, which were strengthened by the hostile attitude of the Catholic Church toward the Jews of western Europe. In his conquest of Polotsk, Ivan IV. ordered that all Jews who should decline to adopt Christianity should be drowned in the Düna. In the period of thirty years which intervened between the death of Ivan IV. and the accession of the first Romanof, Jews were connected more or less intimately with political events in the history of the Muscovite kingdom. Thus mention is made of Jews among the followers of the usurper Grishka Otrepyev. There is even a tradition that he himself was of Jewish origin.
The Russian chronicler who describes the times of the first pseudo-Demetrius (see "Regesty," i. 338) states that the Muscovite kingdom was overrun with foreign heretics, Lithuanians, Poles, and Jews to such an extent that there were scarcely any native Russians to be seen (1605).The Romanofs.
In the reign of the first Romanof, Michael Feodorovich(1613-45), certain enactments placed the Jews on an equality with the Lithuanians, Germans, Tatars, and Circassians, all nationalities being treated in a spirit of tolerance. In a message of Oct. 9, 1634, to the governor of Great Perm, the czar ordered the release of certain Lithuanian prisoners (Germans, Jews, Tatars, and Circassians), who were to be permitted to return to their fatherlands or to remain in Russia, as they might decide.
Four years later (1638) the czar in his congratulatory message to the King of Poland displayed a changed attitude toward the Jews. He instructed his representatives at the Polish court to propose that Polish merchants should be prohibited from bringing into Russia certain merchandise, "and that Jews be forbidden to enter Russia at all" (see Aaron Markovich of Wilna). This attitude was undoubtedly inspired by purely religious motives; and the czar's message indicates that, notwithstanding the persecution of the Jews in Russia, they still entered the country for purposes of trade. On the whole, it is quite certain that there was no fixed policy in the treatment of the Jews by Michael's government, and that orders and decrees were frequently issued as special occasions required.
In the code of 1649, under Michael's successor, Alexis (Aleksei) Mikhailovich (1645-76) the attitude of the government toward the Jews was more clearly defined. This code contains no general direct limitations of the rights of the Jews then living in Russia, and where in exceptional cases such limitations are made they concern religious matters and foreign Jews only. The document furnishes strong proof that the former restrictions upon the Jews were inspired by religious intolerance, and that the expression of such intolerance was officially avoided in the written code. It may be inferred from the decrees issued subsequently to the code that the Jews had access to all the towns of Russia, including Moscow. By the first of these decrees, the ukase of July 30, 1654, the establishment of turnpikes was ordered so that all persons going to Moscow might be examined: "and such persons as shall prove to be from Mstislavl and other frontier cities, Lithuanians, Catholics, nonconformists, Jews, Tatars, and various unchristian people, all shall be admitted to Moscow." This enactment, later incorporated into the legal code, shows that the Jews were not singled out from the other peoples, and that they were subject to the general laws. On special occasions, however, decrees unfavorable to them were issued, as, for instance; in the case of the expulsion of the Jews from Moghilef in 1654.
The ukase of March 7, 1655, ordering the transfer of "Lithuanians and Jews" from Kaluga, to Nijni-Novgorod, provided for their proper protection and for the payment to them of a liberal allowance for traveling expenses. Moreover, article ii. of the treaty of Andrusov (1667), agreeing upon an armistice between Russia and Poland for a period of thirteen years and six months, provided that all Jews who so desired and who had not become converts to Christianity should be allowed by the czar to return to Polish territory, taking with them their wives, children, and possessions, and that those preferring to remain in Russia should be accorded the requisite permission.
The Ukrainian writer Joanniki Golyatovski, in his work "Messia Pravdivy" (1676), attacked the Jews with the intention of prejudicing the czar against them. Kostomarov, in commenting on this fact, states that, notwithstanding the disinclination of the Great Russians to admit the Jews to their country, the latter found their way to Moscow, usually concealing their racial and religious affiliations. It is worthy of note here that there were at that time in Moscow a considerable number of baptized Jews in the monasteries, especially in the Voskresenski monastery, concerning whom Archbishop Nikkon wrote to Alexis complaining that they "had again begun to practise their old Jewish religion, and to demoralize the young monks." It may be seen from the facts presented here and in the articles Alexis Mikhailovich and Gaden that in this reign the Jews of Moscow had increased both in numbers and in influence. Alexis' son and successor, Feodor Alekseyevich. (1676-82), stipulated in his treaty (1678) with King John Sobieski of Poland that all Polish merchants, excepting those of the Jewish faith, should be allowed to visit Moscow ("Polnoye Sobraniye Zakonov," i. 148).Under Peter the Great.
The Russian documents thus far accessible do not permit a definite conclusion as to the attitude of Peter the Great (1682-1725) toward his Jewish subjects. The Russian historian Solovyev, who was himself not without prejudice toward the Jews, points out ("Istoriya Rossii," vol. xv.) that when Peter invited talented foreigners to Russia, he invariably excepted Jews. No documentary evidence in proof of this assertion is, however, furnished. Peter's edict of April 16, 1702, which Solevyev cites, contains no reference to the Jews; and the historian's assertion is evidently based on Nartov's anecdote concerning Peter's so-journ in Holland (1698). When petitioned by the Jews of Amsterdam, through his old friend Burgo-master Witsen, for the admission of their coreligionists to Russia, Peter is reported to have replied, "The time has not yet come for a union of the Jews and the Russians." Nartov also cites Peter as having stated that he would rather call to Russia Mohammedans or heathen than Jews, who are "tricksters and cheats." Nartov adds that Peter remarked to the Jewish delegation petitioning for the right to trade in Great Russia: "You imagine that the Jews are so shrewd as to be able to gain advantage over the Christian merchants; but I assure you that my people are more cunning even than the Jews, and will not permit themselves to be deceived."
On the other hand, the selection of Baron Shafirov, a baptized Jew, as chancellor of the empire, and the confidence shown in him, as well as the advancement by Peter of Dewier, supposedly the son of a Portuguese Jewish barber, indicate that the czar personally had no race prejudices, and that he discouraged superstition in the Greek-Orthodox Church. Nevertheless he found it expedient to leave unchanged the religious legislation framed by his father, Aleksei, which contained many restrictions of the rights of non-Christian subjects of theempire. In a document of the pinḳes of Mstislavl, government of Moghilef, it is stated:
". . . Our children still to be born should tell the coming generations that our first deliverer never forsook us. And if all men were to write, they could not record all the miracles that were vouchsafed to us [until now]. For even now, on Thursday, the 28th of Elul, 5468, there came the Cæsar, called the Czar of Moscow, named Peter Alekseyevich—may his fame grow great!—with all his forces, a great and numerous army; and robbers and assassins from among his people attacked us without his knowledge, and blood came near being spilled. And if God our Master had not inspired the czar to come personally to our synagogue, blood would surely have flowed. It was only through the help of God that the czar saved us and revenged us, and ordered that thirteen of those men be immediately hanged, and there was peace again."
This incident does not necessarily show, however, that Peter was a steadfast friend of the Jews (Dubnow, in "Voskhod," 1889, pp. 1-2, 177).
Active measures against the Jews, especially those living in the Ukraine, were inaugurated by Peter's successor, Catherine I. (1725-27). On March 25, 1727, the empress issued a ukase prohibiting the leasing of inns and customs duties to Jews in Smolensk, and ordering the deportation beyond the frontier of Baruch
"The Jews, both male and female, who are living in Ukraine and other Russian towns are to be immediately deported beyond the frontier, and must not henceforth be allowed to enter Russia under any circumstances. The requisite measures to prevent this must be taken in all places. In removing the said Jews care should be taken to prevent their carrying out of Russia gold ducats or any similar Russian coins. If such should be found in their possession, they should be exchanged for copper."
In signing this decree Catherine was apparently prompted by purely religious motives. She was strongly influenced by her religious advisers, notably by Feofan Prokopovich, elder of the Holy Synod. Prokopovich also secured the cooperation of Menshikov, who may have been provoked against the Jews by his quarrel with Shafirov. It was Menshikov who prohibited the election of Jews as general or military elders in Little Russia. The Ukrainians soon found that the removal of the Jewish merchants from among them resulted in great economic injury to the country, and their hetman, Apostol, petitioned the Senate for a revocation of this drastic law (1728).
Under Peter II. (1727-30) and Anna Ivanovna (1730-40) the strict measures against the Jews were at first somewhat relaxed. Toward the end of Anna's rule Jewish religious influences became more manifest. It was in her reign that the above-mentioned Baruch Leibov and the naval captain Voznitzyn were burned at the stake (July 15, 1738), the former for proselytizing, the latter for apostasy. By a decree of July 22, 1739, Anna ordered the expulsion of the Jews from Little Russia; and on Aug. 29 of the same year she issued another decree forbidding Jews to own or lease inns or other property in that territory. It was also in her reign and in the subsequent reign of Elizabeth Petrovna that the Jews of Lithuania and Ukraine suffered from the excesses of the Haidamacks.
Elizabeth (1741-62), the daughter of Peter the Great, was especially harsh in enforcing anti-Jewish legislation. In her edict expelling the Jews from Little Russia she stated that "no other fruit may be expected from the haters of Christ the Savior's name than extreme injury to our faithful subjects." When the Senate, urged by the Little-Russian Cossacks and the merchants of Riga, decided to recommend to the empress a more liberal treatment of the Jews, in view of the great losses that would otherwise result to the two countries and to the imperial treasury, Elizabeth wrote on the margin of the report: "I will not derive any profit from the enemies of Christ" (1742). Having discovered that her court physician Sanchez was an adherent of the Jewish, religion, Elizabeth, notwithstanding the esteem in which he was held, summarily ordered him to resign from the Academy of Sciences and to give up his court practise (1748). The mathematician Leonhard Euler, who was also a member of the Academy of Sciences, wrote from Berlin: "I doubt much whether such strange procedures can add to the glory of the Academy of Sciences." It should be added, however, that the fanatical empress persecuted the Mohammedans as well. In 1743 she destroyed 418 of the 536 mosques in the government of Kazan.Catherine II.
A broader conception of the rights of the Jews obtained under Catherine II. (1762-96). For while the empress, though talented and liberal in her personal views, was careful not to antagonize the prejudices of the Greek-Orthodox clergy, and still found it inexpedient to abolish entirely the time-honored discriminations against the Jews that had become a part of the imperial policy of the Romanofs, she nevertheless found it necessary to concede something to the spirit of the times. For this reason, and recognizing also the useful services that the Jewish merchants might render to the commerce of the empire, she encouraged a less stringent application of the existing laws. Thus, in spite of the protests of the merchants of Riga, she directed Governor-General Browne of Livonia to allow the temporary sojourn in Riga of a party Of Jews, who ostensibly had the intention of settling in the new Russian provinces (1765); and in 1769 Jews were permitted to settle in these provinces on equal terms with the other foreigners who had been invited to develop that uninhabited region. About this time occurred the first partition of Poland, resulting in the annexation to Russia of the White-Russian territory (1772), with its vast Jewish population.
The edict of Catherine, as promulgated by Governor-General Chernyshov, contained the following passage relating to the Jews:
Petition of the White-Russian Jews.
"Religious liberty and inviolability of property are hereby granted to all subjects of Russia, and certainly to the Jews also; for the humanitarian principles of her Majesty do not permit the exclusion of the Jews alone from the favors shown to all, so long as they, like faithful subjects, continue to employ themselves as hitherto in commerce and handicrafts, each according to his vocation."
Notwithstanding the promise of Chernyshov (1772) that the White-Russian Jews would be allowed to enjoy all the rights and privileges thitherto granted to them, they continued to suffer from the oppression of the local administrations. In 1784 the Jews of White Russia petitioned the empress for theamelioration of their condition. They pointed out that, having lived for generations in villages on the estates of the landlords, they had established distilleries, breweries, etc., at great cost, and that the landlords had been pleased to lease various revenues to them. The governor-general had now prohibited the landlords from making any leases to them, so that they were in danger of becoming impoverished. By an imperial order the White-Russian Jews were eligible for election to municipal offices, but they had never been elected in practise, and were thus deprived of legal safeguards. They were at a further disadvantage because of their ignorance of the Russian language. They therefore asked for representation in the courts, particularly in cases between Jews and Christians, and that purely Jewish and religious affairs should be tried in Jewish courts according to Jewish law. They petitioned further for proper protection in the observance of their religion in accordance with the promises made to them. In some towns and villages Jews had built houses under a special arrangement with the landlords concerning the ground-rents; now the landlords had in some instances raised the rents without warning, and the Jews had in consequence been compelled to abandon their houses. They therefore asked that the rents be maintained as theretofore, or that at least a few years of grace be given them to enable them to make the necessary arrangements for removing to other places. In some towns, to make room for squares and to facilitate the more modern arrangement of the city streets, dwellings and other buildings had been torn down without compensation to the Jewish owners. Jews belonging to villages and townlets had been compelled by the authorities to build houses in the cities, and were thus brought to the verge of ruin.
After due consideration of this petition by the Senate, a ukase was issued (May 7, 1786) allowing landlords again to lease their distilleries and inns to Jews, and permitting the election of Jews to the courts, the merchant gilds, the magistracy, and the city councils. The request for special Jewish courts was not granted, though religious matters were placed under the jurisdiction of the rabbis and the ḳahals. Questions as to alleged extortionate rentcharges and damages sustained by the removal of buildings owned by Jews were left for adjustment to the local authorities. The petition of the Jews for protection in the exercise of their religion was granted.
Soon after the issue of this ukase White-Russian Jews came in larger numbers to Moscow, thus arousing the opposition of the merchants of that city. The latter applied to the military commander of Moscow (Feb., 1790) for the exclusion of the Jews, who, it was claimed, were undermining the prosperity of the merchants by selling goods below the standard price. Other stereotyped accusations were likewise made. From this application (preserved in Vorontzov's "Archives") it is evident that the Moscow merchants, whose usual business motto was "He who does not deceive makes no sales," were alarmed at the competition of the Jews; and, knowing that the tolerant empress would not countenance discrimination on religious grounds, they stated that they were free from religious prejudice and merely sought to protect their business interests. That they succeeded in their efforts is evident from the decision of the imperial council of Oct. 7, 1790, and from the ukase of the empress of Dec. 23, 1791, by which Jews were forbidden to register in the Moscow merchant gild.
Notwithstanding Catherine's liberal ideas, the perplexing Jewish question in Russia originated at the time of the first partition of Poland.
The tragic events in the life of Paul I. (1796-1801), as, for instance, the dethroning and the death by violence of his father, Peter III., and the subsequent attempts of his mother, Catherine II., to deprive him of the right of succession, made a serious impression upon him; and his reign was one of the darkest periods in the history of Russia. Nevertheless, his stormy reign was a propitious period for the Jews, toward whom Paul's attitude was one of tolerance and kindly regard. This is partly evidenced by the contemporary legislation, which consisted of only a few enactments. On the advice of his confidant, Baron Heiking, he granted the privilege of citizenship to the Jews of Courland, and gave them also municipal rights—a very important concession, as until then the Jews of Courland had been denied such privileges. But of even more importance is the fact that Paul I. opposed the expulsion of the Jews from the towns. Thus he prohibited their expulsion from Kamenetz-Podolsk and from Kiev. About this time (1796) the Senate without the emperor's knowledge enacted a law calling for a double payment for the gild license by the Jewish merchants. As to the decree of 1797 included in the legal code and imposing double taxation on the Jews, it is erroneously ascribed to Paul I. Such a decree was issued under Catherine II. in 1794, and although, in virtue thereof, the Jews continued to pay double taxes under Paul, he did not reenact it.
Paul's attitude toward the Jews and the part played by him in their historical life were of greater significance than may appear from his legislative measures. This is shown by contemporary official regulations not incorporated in the legal code.
In 1799 Senator Derzhavin, a Russian poet, was sent to White Russia commissioned to investigate the complaints of the Jewish inhabitants of Shklov against its owner, General Zorich. At about the same time one of the White-Russian courts was investigating a blood accusation against the Jews; and Derzhavin, who hated them as "the enemies of Christ" and wished also to help Zorich, proposed to Paul I. that the testimony of Jewish witnesses should not be accepted until the Jews proved that they were innocent of the accusation brought against them. This proposal, had it been accepted, would have been disastrous to the Russian Jews, for they would have been denied the right to testify at every trial of this nature, and the general effect would have been to deprive the Jewish population of the right of citizenship. Paul I., however, notified Derzhavin that when a case was once before a courtit was not necessary to confuse it with questions concerning Jewish witnesses.The Ḥasidim.
Still more important was the solution of the question involving the attitude of the government toward the Jewish schism that concerned the Jews of Russia and led to the formation of the sect of ḤASIDIM. Under Paul the antagonism of the Ḥasidim toward their opponents became violent. The two parties began to make false accusations against each other to the government. The honored representative of the Ḥasidim, Zalman Borukhovich, was arrested and taken to St. Petersburg. According to the statement of his opponents, he has been guilty of active participation in an attempt to injure the government. Zalman succeeded, however, in proving his innocence, and at the same time in placing the Ḥasidim in a favorable light. He was released, and orders were issued directing that Ḥasidism be tolerated and that its adherents be left unmolested. Subsequently Zalman's enemies again succeeded in bringing about his imprisonment, but on the accession to the throne of Alexander I. he was liberated, and the sect was again declared deserving of toleration. These incidents resulted in again confining the religious controversy to the Jews themselves, and in lessening somewhat the aggressiveness of the antagonism.
Paul I. opposed the attempts of the Christian communities to expel, under the authority of old Polish privileges, the Jews from the cities. By his order the dispute between the Christians and Jews of Kovno, which had continued for many decades, was settled. He decreed that the Jews be allowed to remain in the city, and that no obstacles be placed in their way while in the pursuit of their trades or handicrafts. Consequent upon this there followed other decrees prohibiting the expulsion of the Jews from Kiev and Kamenetz-Podolsk. After the death of Paul I. the Christians of Kovno again petitioned for the expulsion of the Jews, but in view of Paul's decree their petition was not granted. During his reign, and apparently at his instance, the Senate began to collect material for comprehensive legislation concerning the Jews. His untimely death, however, prevented the immediate realization of his project, which was only completed under Alexander I.
In addition to the general censorship restrictions to which Russian literature was subjected in the reign of Paul, there was established a censorship for Jewish books. It had its center in Riga. Leon Elkan was appointed senior censor and was given two assistants, all being placed under the general Russian censorship committee in Riga. Paul I. was constantly informed of the reports of the censors on the books condemned, and thereby was able to take measures to strengthen the laws relating to objectionable books.
The early years of the reign of Alexander I. (1801-1825) were marked by the prevalence of liberal ideas and by attempts at liberal legislation. As the pupil of Laharpe and the admirer of Rousseau, the young monarch was at first inclined to apply their teachings to practical government. The broader spirit in Russian legislation for the empire at large affected favorably the condition of its Jewish subjects also.
After the publication of the senatorial decree of Dec. 9, 1802, concerning the eligibility of Jews to municipal offices to the extent of one-third of the total number of such offices, the representatives of the Christian inhabitants of the city of Wilna applied (Feb. 1, 1803) to the chancellor of the empire, Count Vorontzov, for the repeal of this enactment, on the ground of its conflict with their ancient Lithuanian privileges. A similar spirit was manifested in many other towns of Russia.
Despite the hostility of the Christian merchants, the commencement of the political emancipation of the Jews may be said to have begun with the enactment of 1804. The administrative departments, however, either deliberately or unconsciously overlooked the true purpose of this law, and made no sincere attempt to further the solution of the Jewish question by ameliorating the economic condition of the Jews themselves. It was the purpose of the enactment to encourage in the first place the spread of modern education among the Jewish masses, to hasten their Russification, and to lead them to agricultural pursuits. Unfortunately those entrusted with the enforcement of these measures were not guided merely by motives of humanity and justice; and they endeavored to spread forcible baptism among the Jews. In consequence of this attitude the Jewish masses became suspicious of the government and its measures; and the latter could not therefore be carried out successfully (see Alexander I., Pavlovich; Israelite-Christians).
The reign of Nicholas I., Pavlovich (born 1796; reigned 1825 to 1855), whose oppressive rule fell as a pall on the Russian people, was one of constant affliction for his Jewish subjects also. Of the legal enactments concerning the Jews framed in Russia from 1649 until 1881, no less than six hundred, or one-half, belong to the period embraced by the reign of Nicholas I. These laws were drafted almost entirely under the immediate supervision of the emperor. His attitude toward the Jews was marked, on the one hand, by a hatred of their faith and by persistent attempts to convert them to Christianity; on the other hand, by mistrust of them, which originated in the conviction that they, or at least the bulk of them, formed a fanatical, criminal association, which found in religion a support for its evil deeds. There is no doubt that the Jews then concentrated in the Pale of Settlement, and separated from the Christians by a series of legal restrictions and subject to the Ḳahal, administration sanctioned by the government, lived a religious national life, narrow and marked by ignorance and fanaticism. Added to this was the extreme poverty of those within the Pale, which to some extent demoralized the outlawed Jewish population. But this unfortunate condition was not due to the exactions of their faith, and was only made worse by the measures now adopted.Anti-Jewish Policy.
The system of limitations relating to the Jews which had developed in preceding reigns, and which considered them, because they were non-Christians, as the natural exploiters ofChristians, assumed under Nicholas I. peculiarly pronounced characteristics. In fact, the legislation of Nicholas I. relating to the Jews treated the following problems: First, according to the sense of one official document, "to diminish the number of Jews in the empire," which meant to convert as many of them to Christianity as possible. Secondly, to reeducate the Jews in such a manner as to deprive them of their individuality; that is, of their specific, religious, and national character. Thirdly, to render the Jewish population harmless to the Christians both economically and morally. The last two problems proved impossible of solution by the government mainly because it resorted to violent measures. In order to weaken the economic influence of the Jews, and to remove them from their religious and national isolation, it would have been necessary to scatter them by giving them an opportunity of settling in a vast region sparsely inhabited. Fearing, however, that even small groups of Jews would prove economically stronger than the ignorant, stolid people, most of whom were still serfs; and fearing also that the Jews would exert an ethical or even a religious influence on the Russians, the government refrained from encouraging more intimate relations between Jews and Christians, and reconcentrated the former, thus strengthening their isolation. Only by sudden and violent measures did the government ever remove a part of the Jewish population from its surroundings.Conversionist Measures.
In order to encourage conversion to Christianity the government resorted to various measures, the most important among them being the endowing of baptized Jews with all the rights accorded to Christians of the same rank. There were also other auxiliary measures. For instance, baptized Jews were exempted from the payment of taxes for three years; murderers and other criminals who adopted Christianity were shown comparatively greater leniency than they otherwise would have received. But measures were also taken for compulsory conversion to Christianity. There is no doubt that it was in virtue of this consideration that the Jews, who until 1827 had paid a specified sum for relief from conscription, as was done also by the Russian merchant class, were called upon in that year to appear for personal service in the army. This regulation was framed ostensibly for the more equitable distribution of military burdens among all the citizens, but, as a matter of fact, the government was actuated by a desire to detach from Jewish society, by the aid of military service, a large number of Jews, and to transplant them elsewhere on Russian soil so as to deprive them of their Jewish traits, and, where practicable, also to baptize them. The conditions of the service under Nicholas were such that transfers of this kind could be made with impunity.Conscription Measures.
Conscription, notwithstanding the fact that exemption had been purchased, continued for twenty-five years, the ages of the recruits ranging from twelve to twenty-five. (For its effect on children see the article Cantonists.) Special oppressive conditions of conscription were devised for the Jews in order to increase the number of Jewish soldiers. The Jews were compelled to furnish ten conscripts per thousand of their population, while the Christians had to furnish only seven recruits; moreover, the Jews were obliged to furnish conscripts for every conscription term, while the Christians were exempted at certain intervals. The Jews were furthermore made to furnish conscripts for arrears in the payment of taxes, one conscript for every one thousand rubles. Subsequently these extra recruits were taken as a mere fine for arrears without discharging the indebtedness thereby. This led to terrible suffering. For lack of able-bodied men (many fled, fearing the miseries of war and compulsory baptism) the Jewish communities, represented by the ḳahals, were unable to furnish such an excessive number of recruits; and yet for every conscript that was not furnished at the proper time two new conscripts were demanded. Thus it became necessary to recruit cripples, invalids, and old men, who were placed in the auxiliary companies; at times even members of the ḳahal were impressed into service, notwithstanding their advanced years. The sole supporters of families were also taken, and, finally, boys only eight years old. In spite of all these measures, however, the conscription arrears were on the increase. In order to remedy the shortage, the Jewish communities were permitted in 1853 to seize within their own district all the Jews who had no passports and belonged to other Jewish communities, and to enroll them in their own quota of recruits. The heads of families, whatever their standing, had the right to seize such Jews and to deliver them to the authorities as substitutes for themselves or for members of their families. Among other objects the government thereby intended to rid itself of those Jews whom the ḳahals refused to supply with passports in order to avoid the increase of tax and conscription arrears.The "Poimaniki."
This measure was followed by the wide-spread persecution and capture of Jews who had no passports and who were known as "poimaniki." Furthermore, in localities where recruits were needed, the socalled "lovchiki" (catchers) began to seize even Jews possessing passports. Passports were stolen and destroyed, and the "poimaniki" were impressed into service without being able to secure redress. It was no longer safe for any man to leave his house. From motives of selfishness the local authorities encouraged this traffic in human beings. Children were made the special object of raids. They were torn by force or taken by cunning from the arms of their mothers in open daylight, and sold as having no passports. Nicholas I. himself was eager to increase the number of Jewish "cantonists." It happened, at times, that he permitted Jews to remain in localities from which they had been ordered to depart, on condition that they made cantonists of their sons, born or to be born.Educational Policy.
The school reforms initiated by Nicholas I. were in their fundamental tendency similar to his military reforms. The education of Jewish children and youth at that time had a distinct religious and national character. This was caused largely by the conditionsof contemporary civic life, which discouraged intimate relations between Jews and Christians. The way to general enlightenment could have been paved most easily by the curtailment of the Jews' disabilities and by the improvement of their social condition. But Nicholas I. was, on the whole, not a friend of enlightenment or of civic tolerance, and his final consent to the initiation of school reforms was prompted, there is reason to believe, by a secret hope of the conversion of the Jews. Be this as it may, the school reform was directed under his influence with the view of forcing the reeducation of the growing generation of Jews in religious affairs. The reforms were outlined by the minister of public instruction, Uvarov, who was, apparently, a real friend of the Jews, and who found an able assistant in a German Jew, Max Lilienthal. The government established the so-called "government schools" of the first and second class, and for this purpose use was made of special Jewish funds and not of the general funds, notwithstanding the fact that the Jews paid their share of all the general taxes. According to a program previously worked out, instruction in the Talmud was to be included, but was to be nominal only, and was to be ultimately discontinued, as, in the opinion of the government, it tended to foster various evils. In Wilna and Jitomir two rabbinical schools for the training of teachers and rabbis were established. The schools were placed in charge of Christian principals, who were in most cases coarse and uneducated, and who were instructed to inculcate in the students a spirit contrary to the teachings of the Jewish faith. About the same time the persecution of the Jewish popular teachers ("melammedim"), who had been in charge of Jewish education for generations, was initiated. While it is true that the government schools had served the useful purpose of imparting to the Jewish masses a general education, yet they had failed to achieve the success that had been expected of them. The harsh methods, referred to above, created distrust and anxiety in the minds of the Jewish people, who were never made aware of the government's intentions. Moreover, certain laws were enacted simultaneously with the opening of the schools, and also later, that likewise awakened fear among the Jews. They ruthlessly forbade the obseryance of habits and customs made sacred by antiquity, but which were unimportant in themselves, and in the course of time would perhaps naturally have fallen into disuse. For the legislation on Jewish garments see the article Costume.
As an educational measure, the government of Nicholas I. attempted to direct the Jews into agricultural pursuits. This wise undertaking had its origin in the preceding reign, but assumed considerable practical importance under Nicholas I. Farmers were granted various privileges in the payment of taxes, and they and their descendant were freed from military service for a period of fifty years. Unfortunately, the severity subsequently displayed considerably reduced the number of would-be agriculturists. The enforcement of regulations for the proper management of the farms was entrusted to discharged non-commissioned officers, persons not at all fitted for the supervision of Jewish colonies. Besides, the Jews were forbidden to hire Christians to work for them. In 1844, however, these oppressive measures were repealed, and in 1852 new and broader provisions were enacted for inducing the Jews to take up agriculture on a larger scale.Expulsions and Special Taxation.
Although the government made efforts to "reeducate" the Jews, placing a number of them in Russian environments, and although it introduced Russian influence among the young generation of Jews, also by forcible means, yet, fearing them, it provided likewise for the separation of the Jews from the Christians, unmindful of the fact that this segregation counteracted all its other enactments. To isolate the Jews, numbers of them were expelled, under various pretexts, from villages, towns, and entire provinces, though at intervals the measures of expulsion were relaxed. In 1843 the Jews were ordered from the 50-verst boundary-zone abutting Prussia and Austria, ostensibly because they were suspected of engaging in contraband trade (see below, s.v.
The abolition of the ḳahal (1844) may perhaps be considered as the most advantageous and most useful measure of the reign of Nicholas I. This popular elective institution had served in its time a useful purpose in Poland, where it protected the Jews from the surrounding hostile and turbulent classes. Also in Russia the ḳahal repeatedly fought in the defense of Jewish interests, but the religious dissensions which broke out within Russian Jewry transformed the ḳahal into an arena of party strife and internal conflict. The ḳahals utilized the tax assessments and other prerogatives as instruments by which they might persecute their enemies. These abuses paralyzed the beneficent activities of the ḳahal, transformed it into a bugbear for the populace, and deprived it of all semblance of authority in the eyes of the government. In the days of Nicholas I. it had already lost the character of a representative body, and had degenerated into an institution concerned merely with the contribution of the Jewish taxes to the imperial treasury. The government strengthened the power of the ḳahal in order to secure a more uniform collection of taxes and a more uniform conscription among the Jews. The increased power brought with it new abuses. To its old weapons the ḳahal added a new one—conscription.This period coincided with that of the awakened desire among the Jews for western-European education, particularly for the study of German. The fanatical leaders of the ḳahal persecuted those imbued with the new ideas, and thus retarded considerably the new culture movement.
But the abolition of the ḳahal had also its negative side. When in the following reigns the condition of the Jews was improved, they no longer possessed the representative institution which might have served them a useful purpose in securing certain reforms. With the abolition of the ḳahal there was also lost that bond of union among the Jews that was indispensable to them in the defense of their common interests as a distinct portion of the city population. Most of the Jews lived in the cities, and almost all of them belonged to the burgher or merchant class; but while at that time city gilds and merchant and artisan gilds enjoyed a certain degree of self-government in administrative, economic, and judicial matters, the rights of the Jews in so far as this was concerned had been limited even before the accession of Nicholas I., and he imposed still greater restrictions. There was a rule that even in places where the Jewish population was quantitatively greater than the Christian, the Jews could participate in local self-government only to the extent of one-third of the total number of votes. Moreover, the holding of certain positions was not open to them. Thus, being without proper representation, they could not protect their interests, and hence municipal and general duties were imposed on them in undue proportion. They were entirely excluded from participation in jury service, even in the commercial courts. In some towns in which the merchant class was entirely composed of Jews, Christian blacksmiths were selected as members of the court, and they decided the commercial disputes of the Jews. All this naturally lowered the Jews in the esteem of their neighbors and estranged them from the Christians.
Notwithstanding his enmity toward the Jews Nicholas I. assumed the rôle of protector when the Blood Accusation was brought against those of Velizh. Believing at first in the truth of the accusation, he treated the accused with great severity; but when it became clear to him that the accusation was false he condemned the irregular proceedings of the investigating commission, and it thus became possible to vindicate all the accused. Many of the decrees of limitation promulgated under Nicholas I. are still (1905) in force.
A new era of hope and of partial realization came to the Jews of Russia with the accession to the throne of Alexander II., Nikolaievich (1855-81). The disastrous results of the Crimean war had demonstrated the unfitness of the government machine and of the existing legislation to cope with the needs of the day. Reforms became necessary, and some were introduced. Nevertheless, limited as was the application of these reforms, the effect was remarkable. Aside from the laws themselves, Russian society manifested a more tolerant attitude toward the Jews, contributing thereby to their rapid Russification and to the spread of secular learning among them. Unfortunately this movement was soon crossed by two opposing currents in Russian life—Nihilism and Panslavism. These resulted in bringing about a less tolerant sentiment toward the Jews, but this was through no fault of Alexander II., whom Lord Beaconsfield designated as "the most benevolent prince that ever ruled in Russia" (see Alexander II., Nikolaievich).Reactionary Attitude of Alexander III.
The reign of Alexander III. (1881-94) marks an era not only of reaction, but of return to medieval methods (see Alexander III., Alexandrovich). During this reign a commission, under the chairmanship of Count Pahlen, was entrusted with the investigation of the Jewish question; and its findings, were rather favorable to the Jews. One of the members of the commission, Demidov, Prince of San-Donato, even advocated the abolition of the Pale of Settlement and the granting of equal rights to the Jews. However, the May Laws, introduced by Ignatiev in 1882 as a temporary measure until the completion of the investigations by the Pahlen commission, had disastrous consequences. Alexander III. continued to be guided in his attitude toward the Jews by the procurator of the Holy Synod, Pobiedonostzev, who was appointed procurator-general in 1880, and who is reported to have stated that one-third of the Jews in Russia would be forced to emigrate, another third would be compelled to accept baptism, and the remainder would be brought to the verge of starvation. Pobiedonostzev's program maintained that absolutism and Greek-Orthodoxy were the mainstays of the empire, since they were sanctioned by God and founded on historical antecedents. He thus secured the approval of Alexander III. in the enforcement of despotic measures not against the Jews only, but also against Catholics, Lutherans, and Armenians.
Restrictions limiting the number of Jewish students in high schools and universities (1887), the exclusion of Jews from appointment or election as members of city councils or boards of aldermen, and the discharge of Jewish employees from railroads, and steamship lines, and even from certain institutions, as hospitals (although partly supported by Jews), were among the civil disabilities; and obstacles were raised also to the exercise of the Jewish religion. The violence of minor officials increased, and the situation was rendered more critical by the conversion of many towns and townlets into villages, and by the expulsion of the Jews therefrom. The districts of Rostov and Taganrog, which had formed a part of the Pale, were included in the military district of the Don, their Jewish inhabitants being summarily expelled (1889). A large number of Jewish mechanics was expelled from St. Petersburg between 1888 and 1890. Early in 1891, with the appointment of Grand Duke Sergius (assassinated 1905) as governor-general of Moscow, the banishment of the Jews from that city was determined upon. The intention of the administration was kept secret until the first and second days of Passover, a time deemed convenient by the police for entrapping a great number of Jews. It is estimated thatby June 14, 1892, 14,000 Jewish artisans had been banished from Moscow. Being unable to find purchasers for their household effects, the exiles frequently left them behind; and many debts remained uncollected. The inhumanity and brutality with which this banishment was carried out find an analogy only in the dark history of Spain(see
Bad as were the economic conditions within the Pale before these expulsions, they became indescribably worse after its population had been augmented by thousands of impoverished refugees from the interior of Russia. The struggle for mere existence became so fierce that the poor often worked for fifteen, eighteen, or even twenty hours a day and were able to afford no better food than bread and water. A large portion of the proletariat lived in a condition of semistarvation. In an article in the "Journal du Nord" for 1892 (Errera, "Les Juifs Russes," pp. 120-121) it was stated: "There are in Russia only 10,000 to 15,000 Jews who possess any certain means of existence. As to the masses, they possess nothing; and they are far poorer than the Christian populace, who at any rate own some land." The prevailing ignorance in foreign countries concerning these terrible conditions was due largely to the suppression by the censorship of any mention in the Russian newspapers of the brutal acts of the police. But isolated notices which found their way into the foreign press created a wave of indignation throughout Europe, and forced even Pobiedonostzev to make apologetic explanations. In an interview with Arnold White he declared that "everybody was sorry for the brutality of the chief of police in Moscow." It is well known, however, that the latter official merely carried out the instructions of Grand Duke Sergius, who himself applied in practise Pobiedonostzev's teachings. Speaking of these, the historian Mommsen said (Nov. 1, 1903): "Is it not possible to arrest the decay of a greatly vaunted civilization, the suicide of Russia? . . . But we may still hope that the statesmen of a great empire and the sovereign arbiter of Europe may no longer be dominated by the blind action of a resuscitated Torquemada."
As a result of this medieval policy the various factions in the Russian Jewry united for the purposes of national self-defense. Committees were organized throughout Russia and in other countries for the relief of the oppressed Jews. Considerable numbers of the more enterprising of the latter sought relief in emigration, with the result that during the last two decades of the nineteenth century more than 1,000,000 Jews left Russia, the greater part of whom went to the United States of America, while smaller numbers emigrated to Palestine, South America, and South Africa. Another movement directly traceable to the repressive legislation in Russia was the growth of nationalism among the Russian Jews, resulting in agricultural colonization in Palestine, and in the organization of Zionist societies (see Agricultural Colonies; Alexander III., Alexandrovich; Ignatiev; May Laws; Moscow).Nicholas II.
The hopes which the Jews of Russia reposed in Nicholas II., the pusillanimous heir of Alexander III., were not justified by the events subsequent to his accession (Nov. 1, 1894). The oppressive treatment of the Jews by Alexander III. at least left no room for misunderstanding as to his real intentions. The policy of Nicholas II., while no less oppressive, was more evasive. Where the legal discriminations against the Jews were somewhat relaxed, as in the discontinuance of expulsion from the interior provinces, or in the more liberal application of the 50-verst boundary law, such relaxation was due to utilitarian motives rather than to those of justice. Some influence in this direction was undoubtedly exerted by the petitions of many Christian merchants and farmers of Astrakhan, Tambov, Borisoglyebsk, Tzaritzyn, etc., who saw economic ruin in the removal of the Jews. On the other hand, additional heavy burdens were imposed by Nicholas' government on the Jews of Russia. The establishment of the government liquor monopoly (1896) deprived thousands of Jewish families of a livelihood. For ethical reasons the leading Jews of Russia were pleased to see their coreligionists eliminated from the retail liquor-trade; yet it was felt that in the execution of the law a more equitable treatment should have been accorded to the Jewish tavern-keepers. In the same year further restrictive measures were introduced concerning the right of residence of Jewish students at the University of Moscow, and an order was issued prohibiting the employment of Jews in the construction of the Siberian Railroad. The number of Jewish women eligible for admission to the medical school of St. Petersburg was limited to three per cent of the total number of students; and to the newly established school for engineers at Moscow no Jews were admitted. An ordinance was likewise issued prohibiting the employment of the Hebrew language or the Yiddish dialect by Jewish merchants in their business accounts; and in 1899 new restrictions were imposed on those Jewish merchants of Moscow who by law had hitherto been exempt from certain disabilities as members of the first merchant gild.
A blood accusation with its usual sequence—an anti-Jewish riot—was brought against the Jews of Irkutsk in 1896. In Feb., 1897, an anti-Jewish riot occurred in Shpola, government of Kiev, resulting in the destruction of much Jewish property. An anti-Jewish riot occurred also in Kantakuzov, government of Kherson, and a blood accusation in the government of Vladimir; in 1899 a number of anti-Jewish riots occurred in Nikolaief and elsewhere in South Russia, and in the following year the Jews suffered from additional riots and blood accusations. As a result the Jewish masses were ruined, and their pitiable condition was intensified by famine which spread in Bessarabia and in Kherson.
The economic crisis that culminated in 1899 brought great distress upon many Jewish communities in South Russia, but the Jewish Colonization Association took energetic measures to send timely help tothe needy. It is to the credit of the wealthier of the Russian Jews that they responded immediately to appeals for aid, and in this manner greatly alleviated the misery. Jewish charity manifested itself also in that year in the establishment of loan associations, model schools, and cheap lodging-houses for the poor. Furthermore, commercial and technical schools were founded in many cities of the Pale.Riots at Kishinef and Homel.
In 1899 seventy Jewish families which had lived in Nijni-Novgorod under temporary permits were expelled, as were also sixty-five pavers from the city of Kiev on the ground that they were not pursuing their calling. The admission of Jews to universities and to other educational institutions was made increasingly difficult. In 1903 notorious expulsions occurred in Kiev, the Caucasus, and Moscow. A destructive anti-Jewish riot was allowed to take place in Kishinef through the connivance of the local authorities, who were encouraged by Minister of the Interior von Plehve (assassinated 1904); and in September of the same year a similar riot occurred at Homel. In that year also an ordinance was issued prohibiting the holding of Zionist meetings. All these measures of oppression were carried out by the government (as was admitted by Von Plehve to the Zionist leader, Dr. Herzl) because of the participation of Jewish youth in the socialistic movement.
The riots at Kishinef and Homel and the general economic depression gave an impetus to Jewish emigration from Russia, which was almost doubled within a year. Matters were made still ọrse by the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese war in Feb.,. 1904, when about 30,000 Jews were included in the regiments sent to the Far East. Especially great was the number of Jewish physicians ordered to the front, a number largely disproportionate to the Jewish population. The general discontent caused by the organization of the military reserves found expression in outbreaks against the government, and in anti-Jewish riots which, added to the grave economic crisis, brought thousands of Jewish families to the verge of starvation.
A ray of hope appeared to the Russian Jews on the appointment of the liberal minister, Prince Svyatopolk-Mirski, to succeed Von Plehve. In his promise of general reforms they saw the amelioration of their sad condition; but their hopes, with those of all Russia, were shattered by the stern events of Jan. 22, 1905, when hundreds of workmen were killed or wounded in St. Petersburg. In the struggle for a more liberal form of government now in progress (1905) the Jews naturally are on the side of the Liberals.Conditions in 1905.
The intelligent portion of Russian society, formerly more or less influenced by the anti-Semitic crusade of the "Novoye Vremya," "Svyet," etc., has come to recognize that the Jews are not to blame for the economic plight of Russia, and that the Russians themselves, more than others, have been the victims of a corrupt bureaucratic régime. Prominent writers like Count Leo Tolstoi, Maxim Gorki, and Korolenko have protested against the organized anti-Semitic movement as a menace not only to the Jews, but to civilization itself. On the other hand, there is a portion of the uneducated Russian people among which the systematic preaching against the Jews has taken a firm hold. Thus the stock exchange of Kursk resolved to exclude Jews from membership, as did the Bessarabian horticultural society; although the minister of agriculture had accorded his praise to the model viticulture practised by the Jews of Bessarabia. A similar resolution of ẹxclusion was passed by the Odessa shoemakers' association. Jewish pupils of the Libau commercial school who were brought by the director on a scientific excursion to Moscow were not permitted to enter the city. This and various other particularly cruel discriminations against the Jews in Moscow were largely due to the attitude which was taken by the governor-general, Grand Duke Sergius. Minor officials interpreted the law to suit their own convenience, and continued in their course even after the Senate had reversed many of their decisions. The legal proceedings in the cases arising out of the Homel riots were a travesty of justice, and were marked by vain attempts on the part of the judiciary to justify the course of the administration and to throw the blame for existing conditions on the Jews. The lawyers engaged to defend the Jews were so disgusted by the insults and restrictions to which they were subjected by the court that they withdrew in a body, leaving the accused without counsel.
The great evils of the reactionary régime of Alexander III., and of the rule of Nicholas II., inflicting, as they have done, untold suffering on the Jews of Russia, have not been without some compensation. On the one hand, the avowed intention of the reactionary officials to make the Jew the scapegoat for all the governmental corruption and economic backwardness of Russia has led to anti-Jewish demonstrations and endless extortion, to the almost complete destruction of respect for the law, to the impoverishment of thousands of Jewish and non-Jewish families, to extensive baptism, practically compulsory, and to wide-spread emigration. On the other hand, the government measures have driven a great number of Jews to seek employment in the handicrafts and as agricultural laborers on farms, have compelled Jewish manufacturers to establish and develop new industries on a scale unprecedented within the Pale, and have created among the Jews of Russia an awakening national consciousness which finds expression in broader self-education, in the establishment of literary societies and reading-circles, in the growth of Zionism, and in the determination to carry on an organized propaganda for the moral, mental, and physical uplifting of the Jewish masses.
- Archeograficheski Sbornik Dokumentov, etc., Izdanny pri Upravlenii Wilenskavo Uchebnavo Okruga, 1867-90;
- Bershadski, Litovskiye Yevrei, St. Petersburg, 1883;
- Dagan, L'Oppression des Juifs dans l'Europe Orientale, Paris, 1903;
- Dubnow, Yevreiskaya Istoriya, Odessa, 1896-97;
- Errera, Les Juifs Russes, Brussels, 1893;
- Frederic, The New Exodus, New York, 1892;
- Gradovski, Torgovyya i Drugiya Prava Yevreyev v Rossii, vol. i., St. Petersburg, 1887;
- Grätz, Gesch. (Hebrew transl. by S. P. Rabbinowitz);
- Karamsin, Istoriya Gosudarstva Rossiskavo, ib. 1818-20;
- Kostomarov, Russkaya Istoriya v Zhizncopisaniyakh, etc., ib. 1892-96;
- Levanda, Polny Khronologicheski Sbornik Zakonav, etc., ib. 1874;
- Mysh, Rukovodstvo K Russkim Zakonam o Yevreyakh, 2d ed., ib. 1898;
- Orshanski, Russkoe Zakonodatelstvo o Yevreyakh, ib. 1877;
- Regesty, vol. i., ib.;
- Russko-Yevreiski Arkhiv, vols. i.-iii., ib.;
- Solovyev, IstoriyaRossii s Drevneiskikh Vremion, Moscow, 1863-75;
- Voskhod, 1881-1905.
- Bibliographies of works relating to the Jews in Russia have been compiled by Mezhov (Bibliografiya Yevreiskavo Voprosa v Rossii, 1855-75);
- and more completely by the Society for the Promotion of Culture Among the Jews of Russia, under the supervision of A. Landau, editor of Voskhod, under the title Sistematicheski Ukazatel Literatury o Yevreyakh na Russkom Yazykye, 1708-1889, St. Petersburg, 1893;
- Steinschneider, Hebr. Bibl. vol. xiv., Berlin, 1874.
The first Russian census that is based on reliable sources is that of 1897. The Jewish population took a great interest in the taking of this census, because all legislative matters relating to the Jews had previously been based on unreliable statistics, the number of Jews had been overestimated, and, therefore, the Jewish population had often been overburdened with taxes and other state duties. The census of 1897 included the whole of the Russian territory except Finland, Bokhara, and Khiva.
According to this census, the total population of Russia in 1897 was 126,368,827. This number included 5,189,401 Jews, or 4.13 per cent. The ascertaining of this single fact concerning the Jewish population was of great importance for the interests of the Jews. On the basis of these figures there have appeared in the Jewish as well as in the general press many articles which show clearly that according to their numerical proportion to the general population the Jews pay heavier taxes and duties than they should. The same condition prevails with regard to the military service. There is in Russia an entire series of special legislation directed against the Jews and based on the supposition that they try to avoid military service; as a consequence the measures taken against them are quite abnormal. A specimen of this special legislation is the fine of 300 rubles imposed on the relatives, from the nearest to the most distant, of any one who has avoided military service. This heavy fine has ruined many hundred Jewish families because, in order to levy the fine, the government officials were compelled to sell the property of the Jews at auction. Sometimes the household goods, including the most necessary articles, were sold by the auctioneer. The result of the census showed that the suppositions regarding the military service of the Jews were entirely unfounded. In 1901, for instance, 303,897 persons were called to military service, of whom 17,412, or 5.73 per cent, were Jews. According to law, however, only 12,550 Jews were liable to military service; that is, it would have been necessary for the Jews to furnish only 4.13 per cent instead of 5.73 per cent. From this it is evident that the Jewish population not only was not trying to avoid military service, but actually furnished 4,862 soldiers more than law and duty required.
The distribution of the 5,189,401 Jews throughout Russian territory is quite uneven. For administrative purposes the Russian empire is divided into eight large territories: (1) European Russia, with fifty governments; (2) Poland, with ten governments; (3) Caucasus, with eleven governments; (4) Siberia, with nine governments; (5) Central Asia, with nine governments; (6) Finland; (7) Bokhara; (8) Khiva.
The greater part of the Russian Jews lives in the Pale of Settlement, which occupies only one-twentythird of the general territory. The proportion of the Jewish population to the Christian in this Pale is 11.46 per cent, while outside of the Pale it is only 0.38 per cent. The percentage of Jews living within the Pale is 93.93, as against 6.07 per cent who live outside the Pale.
|Governments.||Jewish Population.||Total Population.||Percentage of Jews to Total Population.|
|Totals, European Russia, excepting the Pale||109,839||97,867||207,706||60,522,778||0.34|
|Governments.||Jewish Population.||Total Population.||Percentage of Jews to Total Population.|
|Kherson (including Odessa)||165,900||171,382||337,282||2,738,923||12.32|
|IV.||Poland (Territory of Vistula).|
|Governments.||Jewish Population.||Total Population.||Percentage of Jews to Total Population.|
|Black Sea Territory||587||467||1,054||57,478||1.83|
|Territory of Tersk||4,272||2,848||7,120||932,341||.76|
|Governments.||Jewish Population.||Total Population.||Percentage of Jews to Total Population.|
|Governments.||Jewish Population.||Total Population.||Percentage of Jews to Total Population.|
|Coast Territory (Khabarovsk)||1,441||150||1,591||223,336||.72|
|Island of Sakhalin||80||47||127||28,113||.45|
|Totals Asiatic Russia||57,743||47,934||105,677||22,698,143||.48|
From the foregoing figures the following conclusions may be drawn: (1) That there is scarcely a single province in Russia without a Jewish population. The Jews are to be found even in the steppes of Astrakhan, among the Kalmucks and Kirghiz, on the island of Sakhalin, and even in the out-of-the-way territory of Yakutsk. (2) That only in the farthest north is the Jewish population very small, as for instance in the government of Archangel. In the governments of Vyatka, Vologda, and Olonetz there are no Jews whatever; but of the 592 districts ("uyezdy") in European Russia only 17 are without any Jewish population. In the Asiatic governments the proportion is greater, as there 18 districts out of 176 have no Jewish population. In the Pale of Settlement proper—consisting of Poland, Lithuania, Volhynia, Kiev, Bessarabia, Podolia, and Odessa—the Jewish population varies from 10 to 15 per cent; in the immigration region—also a part of the Pale, and consisting of the governments of Poltava, Chernigov, Yekaterinoslav, Crimea, and Kherson (except Odessa)—from 4 to 5 per cent; and in the rest ofRussia, from 0.03 to 0.5 per cent. In the immigration district the Jews settled at the end of the eighteenth century in great numbers, and constant immigration followed from the formerly Polish governments.
It is interesting to note the proportion of sexes among the Jewish and non-Jewish population of Russia. The following table shows the percentage of females to the male population in the Pale of Settlement:
|Territory.||Among Jews.||In the Total Population.|
|In Northwest Russia||108.2||101.5|
|In Southwest Russia||106.1||101.5|
|In South Russia||101.8||93.9|
Conditions directly the opposite of this are found in the interior of Russia. Outside of the Pale of Settlement to every hundred males there are the following numbers of females:
|Territory.||Among Jews.||In the Total Population.|
This difference may be explained by the fact that the emigration from the Pale into the interior of Russia naturally brings more men than women, owing to the peculiar conditions existing there, while the emigration to America, Africa, etc., consists chiefly of whole families.
- Sbornik Materialov ob Ekonomicheskom Polozhenii Yevreyev v Rossii, vol. i., St. Petersburg, 1904;
- B. Goldberg, in Jüdische Statistik, Berlin. 1903.
|Governments.||Male.||Female.||Total.||Percentage of Men to Women.||Percentage of Jews to General Population.|
|Governments.||Male.||Female.||Total.||Percentage of Men to Women.||Percentage of Jews to General Population.|
|Totals, Table I.||1,727,110||1,830,950||3,558,060||94.32||10.79|
|Totals of the whole Pale of Settlement||2,367,437||2,507,199||4,874,636||94.42||11.51|
|Governments.||Male.||Female.||Total.||Percentage of Men to Women.||Percentage of Jews to General Population.|
|District of Cossacks of Don.||7,847||7,593||15,440||103.34||.60|
|Totals of the whole Pale of Settlement||2,367,437||2,507,199||4,874,636||94.42||11.51|
|Grand totals in European Russia||2,477,276||2,605,066||5,082,342||95.23||4.03|
|Outside of the Pale (including Siberia, etc.)||168,747||146,018||314,765||115.28||.37|
|Grand totals in the empire||2,536,184||2,653,217||5,189,401||95.58||4.13|
|Governments.||No. of Settlements.||No. of Families.||Population.||Land in Deciatines.|
|*See also |
In the Pale of Settlement: In the middle of the nineteenth century the Russian government, realizing the usefulness of the Jewish artisans, issued a ukase (June 28, 1865) permitting them to reside anywhere in the empire. This edict, however, did not ameliorate to any great extent the condition of the Jewish artisans crowded together within the Pale; for its indefinite character afforded many opportunities for abuse in its execution by the local administrations. Hence only a comparatively small number of artisans dared to avail themselves of the opportunity to settle in the interior, the territory being strange to them. Moreover, they had to take into consideration the fact that their children, when grown, would be returned to the Pale if they failed to follow some handicraft, and that they themselves, when prevented by sickness or other disability from pursuing their vocations, might be expelled from the places in which they had settled, even though they had lived there for decades. It is not surprising, therefore, to find that only 2 per cent of the Jewish artisans in the Pale and in Poland availed themselves of the provisions of the new law. On the other hand, the "Temporary Regulations" (May Laws) of 1882, which caused the removal en masse of Jews from villages into towns and townlets, contributed still further to the congestion of artisans within the Pale. Neither the emigration to America nor the growth of manufactures improved the condition of the Jewish artisans, since the emigration of the latter was not sufficiently extensive, and since many manufacturing establishments were closed to Jewish employees because they would not work on Saturdays or on Jewish holy days.
The number of Jewish artisans in the twenty-five governments of the Pale of Settlement and Poland in 1898 was 500,986, or 13.2 per cent of the Jewish population of that territory. This is a very high percentage considering that in Germany artisans form only from 6 to 7 per cent of the entire population. The proportion of Jewish artisans to the entire Jewish population varies in the different portions of Western Russia. The lowest percentage is that of Western Poland, namely, 9.9 percent; the highest, of Lithuania, namely, 14.8 per cent. In the governmentof Warsaw it is only 7.5 per cent; in Suwalki 8.7 per cent; in Grodno 18.5 per cent; in Taurida and Radom 20 per cent. On an average, in the twenty-five governments of Western Russia one-tenth to one-fifth of the Jews are engaged in handicrafts.
The following table shows the proportion of Jewish artisans to the total Jewish population in the fifteen governments of the Pale of Settlement, according to statistics of 1887 collected by a government committee, and those of 1898 gathered by the Jewish Colonization Association:
|Jewish Population.||Number of Jewish Artisans.||Percentage of Jewish Artisans to Jewish Population.||Jewish Population.||Number of Jewish Artisans.||Percentage of Jewish Artisans to Jewish Population.|
Markedly large increases are shown for the governments of Kovno, Moghilef, Taurida, and Volhynia. The proportion of Jewish to non-Jewish artisans may be illustrated as follows: in 1880 there were in the government of Moghilef 5,509 master artisans, among whom were 4,290 Jews, or 78 per cent; in 1897 in that of Grodno there were 26,515. Jewish artisans, or 61 per cent of the total; and in 1903 in that of Vitebsk the total number of master artisans was 2,820, of whom 72 per cent were Jews. It thus becomes clear that, with the scarcity of artisans among the peasant class, and the growing demand in the villages for cheap manufactured articles, the Jews are important factors in the economic life of Western Russia.
The 500,986 Jewish artisans in Western Russia in 1898 were distributed as follows: Lithuania, 94,594; Poland, 119,371; South Russia, 61,263; Southwest Russia, 140,849; and White Russia, 84,909.
In White Russia 55 per cent of all the Jewish artisans lived in the cities of Vitebsk, Dünaburg (Dvinsk), and Polotsk. In the government of Poltava 57 per cent lived in the cities of Poltava, Krementchug, and Kobyliaki; and in that of Kherson 77 per cent lived in Odessa, Kherson, and Yelizavetgrad. This disproportionate number of Jewish artisans in cities with large Jewish populations was due to the economic and legal disabilities of the Jews in the Pale of Settlement. The percentage of Jewish artisans in the different trades in the Pale and in Poland was as follows:
|Boot-making, shoe-making, etc.||17.0|
|Building and ceramics||6.3|
|Carpentry, cabinet-making, etc.||9.9|
|Metal-working, high grade||4.1|
|Metal-working, low grade||5.7|
|Paper-making, paper-box making, etc.||2.3|
|Weaving, spinning, rope-making, etc.||3.7|
It is thus seen that one-half of the Jewish artisans within the Pale are engaged in the manufacture of clothing and foot-wear.
The distribution of Jewish artisans within the Pale and Poland according to trades is as follows:
|Trades.||Twenty-five Governments.||Lithuania.||White Russia.||Southwest Russia.||South Russia.||Western Poland.||Eastern Poland.|
|Barbers and wig-makers||1.2||1.2||0.9||1.2||1.1||1.5||1.5|
|Cabinet-makers and joiners||6.0||5.2||7.9||7.3||5.8||3.8||4.3|
|Musicians and piano-tuners||1.1||0.6||1.1||1.6||1.2||0.9||0.7|
|Oven-makers and bricklayers||2.2||4.0||3.2||2.1||0.7||0.5||2.2|
|Saddlers and harness-makers||1.0||0.8||0.7||1.2||1.7||0.9||0.7|
It will be noticed that with the exception of Poland the distribution is tolerably uniform. Most of the Jewish weavers are concentrated in Western Poland and Lithuania.
The following table shows the classification ofthe Jewish artisans in the twenty-five governments of the Pale and of Poland as masters, assistants, and apprentices, with the percentages in each class:
|Territory.||Masters.||Assistants.||Apprentices.||Total.||Percentage of Masters.||Percentage of Assistants.||Percentage of Apprentices.|
Here Lithuania shows the greatest proportion of masters (59 per cent); South Russia, the smallest (46 per cent). The small number of assistants in Lithuania indicates a greater amount of poverty among the master-workmen there.
The Jewish women engaged in the various trades within the Pale are distributed as follows:
|Territory.||Number.||Percentage of Total Jewish Artisans.|
The trades followed by them are shown in the table below:
The Jewish artisans learn their trades in the oldfashioned way, the appreciation of the importance of technical training being of recent growth only. The trade-schools and evening-schools recently opened in Pinsk, Byelostok, Warsaw, etc., are overcrowded and altogether inadequate for present needs. In general it may be said that the state of Jewish handicrafts in the Pale at present is like that of German handicrafts at the beginning of the nineteenth century. At the same time, in the large cities, where there is a growing demand for articles of better workmanship, the Jews furnish the best tailors, shoemakers, joiners, watchmakers, etc.Wages of Artisans.
Owing to keen competition, and the unfavorable conditions of credit and of the market, whereby money-lenders and middlemen receive a large part of the profits, the income of the Jewish toilers is very small. The average Jewish tailors in Poland is 250 to 300 rubles per annum; of shoe-makers, 150 to 250 rubles. Seamstresses earn on the average not more than 100 rubles; lacemakers, about 45 rubles, because the demand for lace lasts only a short season. The highest wages, from 8 to 12 rubles a week, are earned by embroiderers. Conditions are somewhat better in South Russia, where some of the Jewish artisans earn from 400 to 1,000 rubles per annum. As a rule, throughout the Pale the incomes of the Jewish artisans are insufficient for the proper support of their families. Thousands lead a hand-to-mouth existence and are compelled to seek the aid of charity. In 1900 in Odessa 1,427 Jewish artisans lived in extreme poverty and amid indescribable insanitary surroundings. These conditions can be improved only by the dispersion of the artisans throughout the empire or by their more extensive removal to other countries.
In the Interior of Russia: Statistics concerning the Jewish artisans in the governments of the interior of Russia, outside the Pale, are derived from reports of the artisan gilds to the Ministry of the Interior in 1893. The table on page 537, giving data concerning the Jewish artisans in the fifteen more important governments, is based on these reports.Legal Position.
|Governments.||Food Preparation.||Clothing, etc.||Leather Goods.||Carpentry, Cabinet-Making, etc.||Metal-Working (low grade).||Metal-Working (high grade).||Chemical Trades.||Building Trades and Ceramics.||Weaving, Spinning, Rope-Making, etc.||Paper-Making, Paper-Box Making, etc.||Totals of All Groups.|
|Total White Russia||9,528||29,267||15,982||10,095||5,298||3,306||619||6,533||2,427||1,854||84,909|
|Total Southwestern Russia||14,401||56,240||21,853||16,382||9,408||6,298||1,198||8,007||3,422||3,640||140,849|
|Total South Russia||5,083||26,223||9,348||5,276||4,513||4,040||322||3,411||809||2,238||61,263|
|Total Pale of Settlement||42,658||143,100||63,493||41,449||24,222||16,504||3,055||26,172||11,224||9,538||381,615|
|Total Western Poland||8,031||31,980||11,741||4,163||2,343||2,318||307||2,403||5,120||1,407||69,823|
|Total Eastern Poland||7,198||18,874||10,072||3,976||1,618||1,706||255||3,015||2,084||750||49,548|
|Total Vistula Territory||15,229||50,854||21,813||8,139||3,971||4,024||562||5,418||7,204||2,157||119,371|
|Total Western Russia||57,887||193,954||85,306||49,588||28,393||20,528||3,617||31,590||18,428||11,695||500,986|
In the enactment of 1804 the necessity was recognized of granting to Jewish artisans the right of residence in governments outside the Pale; but the complicated formalities, the lack of familiarity with the life of interior Russia, the inadequate means of communication, and ignorance of the Russian language prevented the bulk of the Polish-Lithuanian Jewish artisans from taking advantage of this permission. Individuals possessing enterprise and courage, however, found opportunities in the interior governments, where they not only became prosperous, but were the means of establishing the reputation of the Jewish artisan. Jewish distillers especially were in demand among the Russian estate-owners. Accordingly, the laws of 1819 and of 1827 granted Jewish distillers the right to live anywhere in the interior of Russia, and in Irkutsk, Siberia, also.
By the ukase of 1835, limitations were imposed upon the rights of Jewish artisans in the interior. Thereupon the military governor of Astrakhan requested permission to retain forty-nine Jewish artisans on the ground of their usefulness (Second Complete Code, vol. x., No. 8481); but his request was not granted. On the other hand, a request of the viceroy of the Caucasus that Jewish artisans might be allowed to remain in that territory was acceded to. It should be added that the viceroy pointed out that the Jews, being the only tailors, shoemakers, etc., there, were indispensable to the garrisons. These utilitarian motives made it possible as early as the fourth decade of the nineteenth century for Jewish artisans to settle in Tula, Voronezh (Voronej), Saratov, and other Great-Russian governments. As stated above, the Russian government in 1865 found it expedient for economic reasons (law of June 28, 1865) to permit Jewish artisans freely to settle in the interior of Russia and to remain there as long as they continued to follow their vocations.
This enactment, however, did not allow the Jewish artisans to register in the local communities, and it permitted them to remain there only with temporary passports. This dependence on their native communities, and the extortion practised in this connection by the local administrations made it impossible for the Jewish artisans of the Pale to emigrate in large numbers to the governments of the interior. Nevertheless from that time until 1881 permission was granted to 682 Jewish artisans to open work-shops, as follows: in the government of St. Petersburg, 187; Smolensk, 142; Pskov, 108; Orel, 66; Kursk, 32; Voronezh, 6; Saratov. 25; Moscow, 24; etc. The riots of 1881 and the May Laws of 1882 compelled many of these to abandon their new homes. Large numbers emigrated to Western Russia and to America. From 1881 to 1887, workshops were established by 479 Jewish families in the fifteen governments. From 1887 to 1893 no less than 779 such workshops were established by Jews in the governments of the interior. According to the reports of 1893, there were in the fifteen governments of the interior 1,948 Jewish workshops, as against 24,020 belonging to non-Jews, or 7.5 per cent of the latter. The greater number of these were located in St. Petersburg. In the government of Pskov, as against 667 non-Jewish workshops there were 308 Jewish ones, or 31.58 per cent of the total. In the government of Smolensk the numbers were 1,125 non-Jewish workshops and 347 Jewish (23.5 per cent); Orel had 11.52 per cent, and Kursk 10.9 per cent.
The distribution of Jewish artisans as compared with non-Jews among the various trades is of importance, and is illustrated in the following table:
|Trades.||In the Fifteen Governments.||In the Government of Vitebsk.|
|Jewish Workshops.||Percentage.||Non-Jewish Workshops.||Percentage.||Total.||Percentage.||Jewish Workshops.||Percentage.||Non-Jewish Workshops.||Percentage.||Total.||Percentage.|
|Building and ceramics||40||2.1||1,495||6.3||1,535||2.6||187||9.0||76||9.4||263||71.1|
|Cabinet-making and wooden ware||54||2.8||2,657||11.3||2,711||1.9||163||7.8||152||18.8||315||23.7|
|Gloves and leather goods||175||9.1||4,580||19,4||4,755||3.7||400||19.2||286||35.4||686||58.3|
|Metal-work (high grade)||352||18.2||1,812||7.7||2,164||16.2||135||6.5||22||2.7||157||85.9|
|Metal-work (low grade)||156||8.1||2,479||10.5||2,635||5.9||158||7.6||82||10.2||240||65.8|
|Weaving, spinning, rope-making||42||2.2||727||3.1||769||5.4||16||0.8||32||4.0||48||66.6|
This account does not include trades outside of those above classified. It will be seen that the Jews are most numerous in tailoring, clothing, etc. (902); but among the Christian artisans also tailoring predominates (6,034). While the non-Jewish tailors form only 25.6 per cent of the total of non-Jews, the Jewish tailors form 46.6 of the total number of Jews. Another occupation in which Jews are prominent is high-grade metal-work, but in metal-work of the lower grade they are not numerous. Paper-making, bookbinding, and paper-box making also employ many Jews of the interior.
Besides artisans there are in the fifteen governments of the Pale and in the ten governments of Poland about 105,000 Jewish day-laborers, or about 2 per cent of the whole Jewish population of that region. Ivan S. Blioch, in his pamphlet on the moral conditions of the population in the Jewish Pale of Russia (see
- Sbornik Materialov ob Ekonomicheskom Polozenii Yevreyev v Rossii (published by the Jewish Colonization Association), St. Petersburg, 1904.
Statistics of the Passover charities in 1,200 Russian towns show that 132,855 families applied for relief in 1898. They were distributed as follows, the figures in parentheses, following provinces, representing the percentage of pauper families to the total of Jewish families: Kalisz, Warsaw, Syedlitz, Plock, Lomza, Suwalki (14); Taurida (16); Vitebsk, Moghilef, Minsk, Volhynia,Chernigov (17); Podolia, Kiev, Poltava, Yekaterinoslav, Kherson, Bessarabia (20); Lublin, Radom, Kielce, Piotrkow, Kovno, Wilna, Grodno (22). This gives an average of 18.8, which is 7 per cent of the total urban population of Russia.
The following table is given for purposes of comparison:
|Country.||Year of Investigation.||Percentage of Jewish Poor to Total Population.|
In Germany the proportion of poor in cities with a population of from 10,000 to 20,000 was 4.93, from 20,000 to 50,000 was 5.53, from 50,000 to 100,000 was 6.31, over 100,000 was 6.9; in Hamburg it was 9.66; and in Paris (1883), 7.5.
In 1898 the Fuel Charities reported 59,468 families applying for relief—8 per cent of the total number of Jewish families in the territory covered by the report: Northwest, 14,203 families; Southwest, 20,920; New Russia, 15,311; other districts, 9,034.
|City.||Percentage of Jewish Families Receiving Fuel.|
In the territory covered by the report of the Fuel Charities, then, from 25 to 37.7 per cent of the population are paupers.Increase of Pauperism.
The number of destitute Jewish families increased, according to statistics, from 85,183 in 1894 to 108,922 in 1898; even this is far below the actual number, as many towns gave only partial reports. Many thousands of "reticents" shrink from open charity, and inmates of asylums are not included. The increase during these four years was distributed as follows:
General business depression, the development of railroads and banking, and the expulsion of the Jews from villages and from the 50-verst frontier-belt account for this increase.Loan Associations.
Loan-funds on which no interest is charged are organized to help artisans and small traders to carry on their business independently of the usurer. These funds are usually derived from contributions or bequests, as well as from membership dues ranging from 25 copecks to 3 rubles annually. The number of loan associations is as follows:
In the separate provinces of Northwest Russia there are:
In the other sections of Western Russia there are:
|100 Rubles.||100-500 Rubles.||500-1,000 Rubles.||Over 1,000 Rubles.|
The loans generally range from 5 to 15 rubles. Such small amounts are usually secured by pledges, which are sometimes returned even in case of non-payment. In some associations the amounts loaned are higher. In 1898 the transactions of the association in Poniewicz, whose capital was 3,402 rubles, amounted to 8,581 rubles. Loans of 100 rubles or more are secured by a note and two indorsements. The Volkovisk association loans as much as 50 rubles at a time.
Most of these associations are unincorporated and are managed by one or several trustees. The Grodno association is incorporated, with a capital stock of 7,000 rubles (in 1900). From 1893 to 1900 its loans ranged from 3.86 to 4.47 rubles. The security accepted is personalty. Even in this model association from one-fifth to one-fourth of the amount loaned remains unpaid. The Warsaw loan-bank advances small amounts without interest, taking pledges assecurity. In 1901 the number of persons thus accommodated reached 6,671; the loans aggregated 76,062 rubles; 155 unredeemed pledges were sold.
A number of charity boards appropriate a part of their funds for benevolent loans, managed by an auxiliary board, as in the case of the Society Linat ha-Ẓedeḳ of Byelostok. In 1901 the society appropriated 1,300 rubles for this purpose. It advances small loans to artisans and traders for terms not exceeding six months, and charges 0.5 per cent per month to defray expenses. Only easily stored movables are accepted as security.
In about 36 cities 50 loan and savings associations of the Schulze-Delitsch and Reifersen type have been organized. Shares are from 10 to 25 rubles each. The membership, from 1,000 to 3,000, largely consists of small Jewish traders and artisans. Loans must not exceed eight times the amount of a member's share. The interest charged on loans is from 9 per cent to 12 per cent. The largest associations are in Wilna (230,000 rubles capital stock), Warsaw (200,000 rubles capital stock), Kishinef (70,000 rubles capital stock), and Grodno (38,000 rubles capital stock).
There are 126 homes and houses of shelter for transient poor in the larger cities; 6 per cent of them are in Southwest Russia. They are maintained chiefly by appropriations from the meat-tax, seldom by private contributions. The largest of these are in Wilna, Minsk, Berdychev, Krementchug, Odessa, Yelizavetgrad, and Warsaw. The home in Krementchug has 455 inmates and shelters from 3,000 to 4,000 transients annually. There are besides 100 sheltering-homes, called "heḳdeshim," in the small towns of the 25 provinces of Western Russia, especially in the provinces of Grodno, Wilna, Suwalki, Lomza, and Plock (in which there are 96 of these homes). The transient poor are crowded into small, unfurnished, and very unsanitary rooms, where they stay as long as they desire. The Heḳdesh shelters are supported by membership dues and small contributions.
In the small towns within the Pale the destitute poor are fed chiefly by private households; the regular institutions for this form of relief are shown in the following table:
|In the Chief Towns.||In Medium-Sized Towns.||In Small Towns.||Total.|
Four of these institutions supply Jewish soldiers with kasher food, and most of them are supported by members' dues. The largest of these is the cheap eating-house of Odessa, in which 400 dinners are supplied daily at the rate of three cents per dinner. About 30 per cent of these are free, being mostly given to poor students.
There are 72 societies for supplying poor students with clothing, 37 in Northwest Russia, 5 in South-west Russia, 8 in South Russia, and 22 in Poland. In the following provinces there are 37 such societies:
|Province.||Societies.||Average Expense: Rubles.|
The number of medical committees and hospitals within the Pale is large, and is distributed as follows:
The medical committees are confined to small towns. They arrange with the local physician for treating the poor; often they send patients to health resorts or to cities where they can secure better treatment, meeting a part or the whole of the cost of treatment. Members take turns in nursing the sick. The annual income of 124 of the committees is over 500 rubles each; of 43, over 1,000 rubles; of a few, over 5,000 rubles—all derived from members' dues. The hospitals and free dispensaries are chiefly in the larger cities. The income of most of them does not exceed 10,000 rubles. The exceptions are the Jewish hospitals of Warsaw (116,000 rubles) and of Kiev (60,000 rubles). The Vilkomir (Kovno government) hospital owns a drug-store, the public bath, the meat-market, and the slaughter-house, the income from which helps to maintain the hospital. Most of the other hospitals are supported by appropriations from the meat-tax in addition to members' and other dues; they accommodate generally from 15 to 20 resident patients, preferably Jews living in the town, and treat large numbers of visiting patients. Non-Jews and non-residents are admitted when there is room.
To help poor brides there are 51 societies in small towns in Western Russia. Their incomes, from 50 to 400 rubles annually in most cases, are derived from collections made every Friday. Five rubles is the maximum sum given to one bride. There are 486 charitable societies of a general type within the Pale. The following table shows the amounts, in rubles, annually expended by these societies, together with their distribution:
|Divisions.||500.||500 to 1,000.||1,000 to 5,000.||Over 5,000.||Total.|
Of these, 75 receive appropriations from the meat-tax; the rest are supported by members' dues. Besidesthese, 89 "societies for helping the poor" were called into existence by a special ministerial circular. These societies are distributed as follows: North-west, 37; Southwest, 4; South, 39; Poland, 6; outside the Pale, 3. They give pecuniary assistance chiefly, but frequently they do the work of the special charities, affording medical help, paying funeral expenses, distributing books, maintaining free dining-rooms, and nursing the sick.
The charters granted to some societies permit the investing of money in loans, the opening of cooperative stores, and the industrial education of orphans and poor children. The two wealthiest societies are those in Lodz (annual income 35,925 rubles) and Yekaterinoslav (50,352 rubles). The societies are well organized, and they are modifying profoundly the economic condition of the Jewish poor. The society of Khotin (Bessarabia) is typical in this respect. Since 1898 it has absorbed all the local charities, the poor-house, the cheap dining-room, and medical relief. It has undertaken the care of orphans and poor children and organized model ḥeders. It supplies the poor with unleavened bread at Passover and makes an arrangement with the bakers in accordance with which the latter deliver maẓẓot at a reduced price to those who are deserving.
|Totals within Pale of Settlement||61,920||64,856||68,357||74,387||80,793|
|Totals in Western Russia, including Pale of Settlement||85,181||88,459||93,126||100,106||108,922|
- Sbornik Materialov ob Ekonomicheskom Polozhenii Yevreyev v Rossii, vol. ii., St. Petersburg, 1904.
A systematic and organized attempt was made by the Russian government in 1840 to raise the intellectual and moral condition of its Jewish subjects by the establishment of modern Jewish schools. In accordance with this idea committees were called for from the six chief cities within the Pale of Settlement, whose task it was to formulate plans for the secular education of the Jews of Russia. These committees gave an impetus to the movement for culture among the Jews themselves, and aroused the interest of the ministry of public instruction, at the head of which was Count Uvarov. However, even before Uvarov's day, there had been various attempts at encouraging general education among the Russian Jews. The celebrated "Enactments" of 1804 paid some attention to the matter and provided for the admission of Jewish students to the general educational institutions of the empire. These provisions are marked by a humanitarian and tolerant spirit, and state that no attempts should be made to lead away from their religion Jewish children obtaining their education in the schools, and that those Jews who obtained the customary university education in medicine, surgery, physics, mathematics, or other branches of learning should be granted the proper degrees on equal terms with other subjects of Russia. By the law of 1811 Jewish students who had completed their university studies were exempted from the head-tax. But notwithstanding these provisions the few Jewish students who attempted to avail themselves of the privileges were discriminated against. Thus Simon Levin Wolf, who in 1816 completed the full course at the University of Dorpat, petitioned for permission to take his examinations for the degree of doctor of jurisprudence, but was informed by the faculty that as a Jew he could not be given such permission. When the case was referred to the ministers this decision was confirmed. Again, in 1836 a Jewish doctor, Joseph Bertensohn, applied to the ministry of the interior for appointment to a government position. The minister of the interior presented the matter to the committee of ministers, and the sanction of the czar was obtained for an appointment, but "in the Western provinces only."
Such were the difficulties encountered by Jewish youth in that day. In addition, the Jews of the old school regarded with decided hostility all attempts on the part of their sons to obtain a secular education, while the latter had to contend with deep-seated prejudices among the wealthier classes of Christian society. Among the Jews themselves narrowness and intolerance were most intense, before the forties of the nineteenth century, in the Northwestern provinces, while a more liberal spirit prevailed in the Southwestern provinces.Schools.
Odessa was especially distinguished for its liberality, and to its community belongs the credit of having established the first modern Jewish school inRussia. This school was founded in 1826 through the initiative of Jacob Nathansohn, Leon Landau, H. Herzenstein, and Joseph Schwefelberg, and was supported by the Jewish community. It originally contained four classes, in which, besides specifically Jewish subjects, mathematics, calligraphy, Russian, and German were taught. The school was under the management of a director and school board whose appointment had to be sanctioned by the governor-general of New Russia. The first school board consisted of Dr. Rosenblum, David Friedman, Behr Bernstein, and Solomon Gurovich, and the first director was a German Jew, Sittenfeldt. With one exception the instructors were all Jews, either Austrian or German, and the text-books used were all German; even Karamzin's history of Russia was used in the German translation of Jaffe. The expenses of the school were provided for by an initial appropriation of 9,000 rubles and an annual appropriation of 7,600 rubles for maintenance.
The number of pupils at the beginning was 208, and in the following year the number increased to such an extent that the first appropriations were found inadequate; additional funds were provided by a special tax on kasher meat, imposed by order of Count Pahlen, the governor-general. Odessa was thus the first city in which the meat-tax was collected, its introduction elsewhere not taking place until 1844. Even in Odessa, which possessed at that time probably the most enlightened Jewish community in Russia, the establishment of the school created much bitter feeling in Orthodox circles, where it was feared that it would prove a menace to Orthodox Judaism. The Jews of Odessa even petitioned Count Pahlen against the project, claiming that there was no necessity for such an institution, that the local Hebrew schools were sufficient for Jewish subjects, and that German and Russian could be acquired in the lyceum. The reply of Count Pahlen, who had grown impatient with the refractory members of the community, caused the latter to relinquish their opposition. On the death of the first director, Sittenfeldt, in 1828, Basilius Stern was appointed, and retained the position for many years.
Following the example of Odessa the Jewish community of Kishinef established a school, which it placed under the direction of Dr. Goldenthal. In 1838 a similar school was founded in Riga under the direction of Dr. Lilienthal. The curriculum of the Riga school as outlined by its founders included, among other subjects, reading, penmanship, grammar, and history (Russian). The principal, according to the program, was to be an alien of Jewish faith, "educated in the spirit of true learning." According to an official report of July 18, 1840, the school prospered.
With the exception of these schools, whose establishment was largely due to foreign influence, the Jews of Russia were almost strangers to European education. The old organization of the ḳahal, the respect for tradition and ancient custom, as well as poverty, ignorance, and prejudice, made it very difficult to establish an effective educational system. Before the forties the Jewish population of the Northwestern provinces insisted on strict interpretation of the Talmud and close adherence to the dogmas of religion, while the Jews in the South-western provinces, from the beginning of the nineteenth century, had leaned toward a liberal interpretation of the religious laws. Between these was a numerically small party advocating European education, which found it necessary to hide its inclinations and was compelled to peruse non-Jewish books in cellars or attics to escape detection.
Secret societies were formed among young men for the promotion of the work of enlightenment. At the head of one of these organizations was an alien named Dr. Rothenberg, who labored with great enthusiasm for the cause. Russian society, unacquainted with the aspirations of these Jewish young men, took little interest in them; this explains why the best Jews of that time were educated in the German spirit and studied German literature, while things Russian were unfamiliar to them.Count Uvarov's Report.
According to Lilienthal, the idea of improving the condition of the Russian Jews by educating them in a modern spirit originated with the czar himself, and an earnest attempt to carry out this idea was made by Count Uvarov, then minister of public instruction. He worked out the first plan for the establishment of special Jewish schools and presented it to Emperor Nicholas I. (June 22, 1842). His report, remarkable for its breadth of view, states that "radical reforms are imperative for the education of the growing generation of Russian Jews." He shows that the repressive measures against the Jews in many European countries had failed to achieve any beneficial results, and then points out the excellent effects of the humanitarian measures adopted since the beginning of the nineteenth century. His suggestions were approved by Nicholas, who wrote on the margin of the report, "These deductions are correct." The czar requested his ministers to acquaint themselves with the condition of the Jews in order to make possible the enactment of proper laws. To facilitate the work committees were appointed in provinces where Jews were permitted to live. These committees were to render reports, and it was on the basis of these reports that Uvarov worked out his project. He commissioned Dr. Lilienthal to visit the various centers of Jewish settlement in the Pale, determine the attitude of the Jews toward the proposed measures, and allay existing suspicion as to the intentions of the government. From the circular letter issued by Count Uvarov for this purpose it is evident that the Jewish masses regarded with animosity the establishment of the Jewish schools in Odessa, Kishinef, and Riga, and believed that the promoters of these schools intended to lead the Jewish youth away from Judaism. Suspicions of this nature were not without some show of reason; indeed, they were partly justified by the measures taken during the latter part of Alexander I.'s reign and by the attitude of Nicholas I. toward the Cantonists.
Count Uvarov's plan for the establishment of Jewish schools was substantially as follows: The schools were to be divided into two classes—higherand lower. The higher were to be established in the cities and were to contain the equivalent of the first four or five grades of a classical gymnasium. These schools could, if necessary, be modified to serve as preparatory schools for middle or higher institutions of learning. The lower schools were to be established in district towns and were ultimately to replace the Jewish private schools. For the carrying out of the plans of the government Uvarov proposed a committee of rabbis and scholars, whose appointment was to be approved by the governors of their respective provinces and who were to be known as the "Commission for the Education of the Jews of Russia." This plan was approved by the czar, who added in his own handwriting, "I approve of it on condition that the commission shall consist of no more than four rabbis, one from each of the provinces in which Jews are permitted to reside."Wilna.
Lilienthal occupied himself working out the details of organization, corresponding with foreign Jews in order to determine how many teachers could be secured for the projected schools, and visiting in person some of the larger cities. On going to Wilna he soon became convinced that he would meet very serious opposition there. The Jews of that city impressed him as "familiar with Talmudic and rabbinical lore, but very ignorant of other learning and without much knowledge of the modern branches of science; full of prejudice and narrow-mindedness, and steeped in wild, absurd Ḥasidism which passes all understanding." But after much effort Lilienthal succeeded in convincing the leaders of the community that the school would not be a menace to their religion, whereupon an annual sum of 5,100 rubles was promised by them toward the support of the institution. Lilienthal was then invited to Minsk by the rabbis and the ḳahal, but met there a very determined opposition. The objectors claimed that without equal rights education for the Jew would be a misfortune—words that are proved to have been almost prophetic.
Returning to Wilna, Lilienthal found that the opposition there had gained strength during his absence. The community withdrew its promise and exerted itself to discredit Lilienthal's efforts. The minority in favor of modern education made matters worse by its belligerent attitude. Lilienthal left Wilna greatly disheartened and rendered his report to Count Uvarov. Notwithstanding the discouraging results of the first tour, Lilienthal was again sent out, encouraged at the beginning of the second journey by the friendly attitude of the Jews of Berdychev. This time his efforts proved more successful. He met few difficulties in the Baltic Provinces, where the Jews were to some extent acquainted with modern schools. Lilienthal sent a circular letter to the communities of the Western provinces, wherein he clearly showed their true interests and the danger of narrow opposition; this undoubtedly produced a deep impression. He was awaited impatiently in Berdychev, and his message was received there with great enthusiasm. Similar receptions were accorded him in South Russia. New Russia was prepared for modern schools. There Lilienthal was received joyously, and was pleasantly surprised at the advance already made by the Jews of Odessa in matters educational. He was warmly received also in Kherson and Kishinef. On his return to St. Petersburg, Lilienthal took part in the sessions of the rabbinical commission as the representative of the government. The commission consisted of Voronchenko (chairman), Dukst-Dukshinski (recording secretary), Lilienthal (government representative), Kusnetzov (secretary), and Rabbi Isaac ben Ḥayyim of Volozhin, Mendel Shneersohn, rabbi of Luybavich, Bezaleel Stern, director of the Odessa school, and Israel Halperin, a banker of Berdychev.Difficulties of the Uvarov Schools.
The schools established according to Uvarov's plans did not meet with the expected success. On the one hand there was a scarcity of competent instructors. It was Lilienthal's expectation that foreign Jews would be appointed as instructors, and he had practically engaged about 200 of them for the proposed work. The authorities decided, however, to employ only natives, believing that enough Jewish instructors could be found in Russia itself. There was no difficulty in securing Christian principals for the schools; and for the classes in general subjects (Russian, geography, arithmetic, etc.) instructors from the non-Jewish schools were appointed. It was not easy, however, to find suitable teachers of Jewish subjects and of German, and appointments were made from among persons not fully competent for their task. Considerable difficulty was encountered in the teaching of German. Professor Mukhlinski, who visited, at the instance of the ministry of public instruction, the Jewish schools of Western Russia, wrote in 1851 that "the Jews of the Western provinces complain of the slight progress of their children in the German language, and for this reason it would be advisable to have in the schools specially qualified teachers of this language, as the influence of the German language in the education of the Jews may prove to be of great importance." The "learned Jew"
The situation of the instructors in the Jewish schools was not an enviable one. The salaries paid were for that time rather high—250 rubles a year to the principals and 225 rubles to the instructors. Nevertheless, since the money for the purpose was derived from the candle-tax, the authorities often delayed payment for months, thus leaving the teachers almost destitute.
Beside these difficulties there was the animosity of the Jewish population, which regarded the instructors as traitors to their religion, and, fearing them as representatives of the government, was always ready to express its enmity toward them. For instance, the instructors and their children were not subject to military service; yet the Jewish communities vented their spite by presenting to the authorities the names of the relatives of the instructors.When these relatives were missing the instructors, according to law, were held responsible for concealing their whereabouts and were thus subjected to much annoyance.
As to pupils in the Jewish schools, it appears that few were sent voluntarily by their parents or guardians. The organization of a school usually began with the arrival of the Christian principal, whose duty it was to enroll students. For this purpose he applied to the Jewish community, stating that it was absolutely necessary to create a student body. The community, being in fear of the administrative authorities, acted in precisely the same spirit that it displayed in the matter of military service. Orphans, artisans' children, and beggars were forced by the influential members of the community into constituting the school contingent; the school was recruited, in fact, from the very dregs of the Jewish population; at times parents were paid for sending their children to the school. The community took care to secure only the minimum number of pupils necessary to give the school the semblance of an educational institution. Thus in one city, where there was, according to official statistics, a Jewish population of 10,000, there were, in 1852, only 27 pupils in the Jewish school; in Vitebsk, in 1849, there were only 13; in Jan., 1851, only 19; and 50 in the November following.Expedients of the Principals.
But even these figures do not betray the exact condition of affairs. A principal would have been embarrassed, for instance, had he been compelled to report that his school, with three teachers, had often less than ten students. For this reason he would report as being in attendance even those who had left during the year. For example, in one school twenty-three pupils were reported on the rolls, though as a matter of fact fifteen of them had left during the term. In another school most of the students who had entered during the preceding year appeared in the report of the current year, though most of them were marked in the class register as having left "on account of poverty." The irregular attendance led to many attempts at improvement. Thus Professor Mukhlinski suggested that "there should be at every Jewish school a Jewish attendant who could be sent after pupils that failed to report"; and in 1855 the principals of the Jewish schools in the government of Minsk were ordered to see that the Jewish teachers visited the dwellings of the pupils and reported the causes that led to their absence. The school authorities usually ascribed all absences either to poverty or sickness; indeed, there is no doubt that poverty was responsible in part, since, as already stated, most of the pupils came from the poorest homes.
The program of instruction in the schools provided for sixteen lessons of one and a half hours each in the week. Of these lessons seven were devoted to religious instruction, two to Hebrew, four to Russian and penmanship, two to arithmetic, and one to German. Before and after the lessons prayers were said in Russian and Hebrew. The schools were ordered by the higher authorities to omit certain passages from the Hebrew books. For instance, in 1854, when the school authorities of the government of Minsk replaced the Shulḥan 'Aruk with the Ḥayye Adam, they pointed out the passages to be omitted from the latter. In 1853 the same authorities ordered that the teaching of the Mishnah should be discontinued. These changes and omissions were undoubtedly due to the suspicion entertained by the government that the Hebrew books contained statements, expressed or implied, directed against the civil government or against Christianity. Notwithstanding the fact that in some places the population consisted almost exclusively of Ḥasidim, the ministry of public instruction made obligatory upon the schools the use of the Ashkenazic prayer-book with its German translation. Of the text-books employed, several were prepared by Leon Mandelstamm, including Hebrew, German, and Russian grammars.Failure Recognized.
The evident failure of the Jewish government schools convinced the government after some years that a reorganization of these schools was desirable. At the suggestion of several of the governors of the South-Russian provinces the ministry of public instruction took the problem under consideration. The question was raised whether these schools should be abolished as useless. After a thorough investigation covering a period of eight months the special agent submitted his report to the governor-general of New Russia and the superintendent of instruction in the Odessa district. The report declared that these schools, while requiring reorganization, should not be abolished entirely, and that the main defects in the existing organization were due to an inadequate knowledge of the Russian language on the part of the children admitted and to the unsympathetic and severe methods of the Christian principals, who usually possessed but little pedagogic training. Besides, the pupils who came from the ḥadarim were not accustomed to school discipline, and capable teachers would not remain long in positions affording a salary of only 225 rubles per annum. As a result, the number of ḥadarim had increased rather than decreased since the establishment of the schools; the more so since the principals of the Jewish schools, to whom was given the supervision of the melammedim, often furnished the latter with certificates on personal and illegal grounds. An instance of the increase of the ḥadarim is afforded in the case of Kishinef, where there were 100 in 1864.
The following recommendations were made in the report of the special agent to the governor-general: (1) The schools should be reorganized so as to make those of the first class preparatory for entrance to the classical gymnasium; those of the second class should be provided with a more practical curriculum, so that pupils might be to some extent better prepared for life if obliged to discontinue their studies before graduation. (2) Elementary classes for the younger children should be instituted, thus doing away with the necessity for the ḥeder. (3) As principals of such schools should be appointed only such as had completed their studies in a rabbinical school or in some higher institution of learning. (4) Sufficient money for the purchase of books and other school materials should be allowed to every poor pupil. The remuneration of the Jewish teachersshould be increased, and principals should be chosen from among them. (5) It should be made obligatory upon teachers and principals to serve at least five years in one place. (6) The melammedim should be placed under the supervision of the school administrations, and ḥadarim should be allowed only in those places where schools did not exist. The report pointed out also that the reorganization should be of such a character as not to lead the parents to think that the main purpose of the school was to discourage the religious and national sympathies of their children. "The abolition of these schools," said Count Kotzebu, "would drive the Jews back into their fanaticism and isolation. It is necessary to make of the Jews useful citizens, and I see no other means for achieving this than their education."Artzimovich's Recommendations.
Artzimovich, the superintendent of public instruction of the Odessa district, came to a somewhat different conclusion, as is shown in his report to the minister of public instruction. He dwelt on the suggestion of Dr. Shwabacher, then rabbi of Odessa, to found rabbinical seminaries; he recommended the establishment of such a seminary in Odessa and the appointment of Dr. Shwabacher as its director, the funds for its support to be derived from special Jewish taxes. He further suggested transferring one of the rabbinical schools of Western Russia to Odessa, where there was less prejudice and more intelligence among the Jewish population, where the many educated Jews—doctors, lawyers, bankers, etc.—would exert a beneficial influence upon the students, and where there were many Jewish children who had obtained the desired preliminary education in the general schools. Thus in the Second Gymnasium at Odessa, in 1862, there were 115 Jews; in the woman's gymnasium 36 Jewish girls; in the commercial school 39 Jews; while the number of students in the specially Jewish schools was steadily decreasing. In 1862 there were in the first-class Jewish government schools of Odessa 316 pupils; in 1863 and 1864, 300 pupils; and in Jan., 1865, only 260 pupils. In the second-class school there were 114 in 1862, 135 in 1863, and only 45 in 1864.
The suggestion for the establishment of rabbinical seminaries did not receive support from the government, and the plan was still unrealized twenty-five years later, when the Society for the Promotion of Culture Among the Jews of Russia again raised the question of establishing a seminary in Odessa.Education in the Agricultural Colonies.
In April, 1866, General Zelenoi, then secretary of the imperial estates, pointed out in a report that the great obstacle to the success of the Jewish agricultural colonies in South Russia was the extreme religious fanaticism of the colonists, and that the surest means of removing it would be to abolish the system which permitted the teaching of children at home. In consequence, Marcus Gurovich, an educated Jew, was commissioned to inspect the Jewish colonies and outline practicable school reforms. Gurovich suggested that in the schools to be opened the melammedim should be retained as instructors in Hebrew, lest changes of too radical a nature should excite the prejudices of the colonists. His plan provided for the establishment of two-class schools with a teaching staff of two melammedim and one secular teacher. In the larger colonies a two-room school should be opened, one room for general subjects, as Bible, Hebrew, German, Russian, arithmetic, and penmanship, and the other for complementary studies, as geography, Russian history, drawing, and agriculture. The secular instructor should be paid by the government, while the melammedim should receive payment from the parents according to agreement.
The minister of public instruction adopted this plan with slight modifications, excluding German as unnecessary, and increasing the attention given to the Russian language. He agreed with Gurovich that great care should be exercised in effecting the proposed changes. Official inertia caused the execution of the proposed measures to be delayed until 1868, when the communities in the various colonies offered to supply the money necessary to carry on the work of instruction provided funds were advanced to them for the initial outlay. In that year there were opened in the ten colonies twelve schools (ten for boys, and two for girls), the maintenance of which was undertaken by the respective communities. In recognition of his services the ribbon of the Order of St. Stanislaus (3d degree) was conferred upon Gurovich, with a purse of 500 rubles.Good Effects of the Government's Attitude.
The benevolent efforts of the government during, the reigns of Nicholas I. and Alexander II. gradually but surely effected important changes in the attitude of the Russian Jews toward modern education. Thousands of Jewish families settled outside of the Pale, became familiar with the Russian language and customs, lost some of their narrowness, and no longer kept their children from attending non-Jewish educational institutions. The classical gymnasiums and universities soon came to have more than a mere sprinkling of Jewish students, and, while in the smaller towns within the Pale secular education was still regarded by the masses with extreme disfavor, the educated and progressive elements of Jewish society in the larger towns constantly gained in strength and importance.Later Attitude of the Government.
With the reactionary reign of Alexander III. the liberal interpretation of the existing laws was abandoned, and new regulations were passed concerning the attendance of Jewish students in the middle and higher schools. In 1887 a regulation was put in force according to which only 3 to 6 per cent of the students in any gymnasium or university might be Jews. Naturally, while outside the Pale the Jews are comparatively few and the vacancies existing in these institutions are not always filled, the number of Jews in towns within the Pale who wish to enter is greater than the number of vacancies. Thus higher education is difficult to attain for most of the Jewish youth. The very strict interpretation of this law makes matters still worse. It appears that there is a determination on the part of the authorities to reduce the number of Jewish students to a minimum. Many Jewishstudents graduating from the middle schools with honors are not permitted to enter the universities, the reason alleged being lack of vacancies. In the entire province of Wilna, e.g., there were in a certain year only three or four vacancies. The result is that those who have the means go to schools or universities in Germany, France, or Switzerland.
The lower general schools, while nominally open to Jewish children, are not always accessible to them. The city and district schools admit Jewish students on an equal footing with the others, yet the regulation, issued by the ministry of public instruction in 1901, which requires Jewish students to do written work on Saturday, virtually excludes the children of Orthodox Jews. In Lubny, government of Poltava, there had been twelve Jewish students in the district school, but after the enforcement of the new regulation only one remained. The same is true of many other places. Many of the lower schools even refuse to receive Jewish children, claiming that there are no vacancies. The Jewish communities are thus obliged to provide for the elementary education of their children, and as a result the Jewish schools are indispensable.Specifically Jewish Schools.
The specifically Jewish schools in Russia to-day may be divided into three classes: (1) government schools, (2) communal schools, (3) private schools. The first class comprises the schools established in the forties and described above, and the teachers' seminary at Wilna. The government schools founded in 1844 were reorganized in 1873. The minister of public instruction pointed out at that time that these schools were to be regarded as temporary and were to be abolished when "the Jews begin to send their children to the general schools." Apparently it was not suspected at that time that ultimately the general schools would be closed to most Jewish students. The Jewish elementary schools are divided into one-and two-class schools, each having a preparatory class. The full course extends over six years. The instructors are usually graduates of the Wilna Jewish seminary, but in case of necessity appointments are made from among Christians familiar with Judæo-German. These schools are not popular with the Jewish masses because too little time is devoted to Jewish subjects; nevertheless they are well attended where other schools are lacking.
The Jewish private schools usually offer a two- or three-year course, but in a few cases a four-year course. Of twenty-four lessons every week, four at the most are devoted to teaching Jewish religion. In most cases the time devoted to Jewish subjects is much less, being rarely sufficient for more than the study of the prayers and of Biblical history. The teachers in private schools are poorly paid—on the average, from 300 to 400 rubles annually for instructing from thirty to forty students. In many instances the expenses of the private schools do not exceed the income.Talmud Torahs and Ḥadarim.
In addition to these schools there are the Talmud Torahs and the ḥadarim. The Talmud Torah came into existence owing to the necessity of caring for orphans. Being unable to maintain orphan asylums, the community had to content itself with sheltering the orphans through the day. The children were fed, clothed, and taught. The instruction usually consisted in the reading of Hebrew and the study of the prayers, the Bible, and other religious books. The Talmud Torahs are still maintained for the poorer classes and are under the direct supervision of the elders of the community. As a rule the teaching is irregular and without system. Notwithstanding the great interest of the masses in the Talmud Torah and their conscientious contributions, they have little voice in its management; the leaders of the community usually conduct it according to their own ideas. Moreover, the income of the average Talmud Torah rarely exceeds from 400 to 500 rubles annually, and with such small means but little can be accomplished. The methods in vogue in the ḥeder are generally followed, and the children are scarcely less ignorant when they leave the Talmud Torah than they were on entering. There are some exceptions, however, in which the Talmud Torahs are conducted according to modern pedagogic principles. Usually, people who can afford to send their children elsewhere do not send them to the Talmud Torah.
The ḥeder, which is a type of school evolved during many generations of religious isolation, is a purely religious school. The so-called "model" ḥeder is the more modern type, in which an attempt is made to include secular subjects. In 1875 a law was passed which prohibited the ḥeder to admit those who were not graduates of a rabbinical school or of a middle-class school. This law failed to achieve its purpose because of the slight remuneration offered by the ḥeder—often not more than 100 rubles a year; persons who had obtained an education in a rabbinical or middle-class school were not tempted to apply for positions. The government, realizing the futility of the regulation, passed a new law in 1893, which allows any one who so desires to conduct a ḥeder on payment of an annual tax of three rubles.
The ḥeder as an institution is intimately connected with the life of the Jewish masses, and it will take many years and much effort to replace it with modern Hebrew schools. The ḥeder transforms healthy children into sickly and nervous ones, and it has been said with much truth that the physical degeneration of the Jewish masses is due in part to the baneful influence of this class of schools. The ḥeder is usually conducted in the home of the melammed, and often in the family living-room. The melammed usually attends to one or two children at a time, while the rest repeat their lessons aloud. The ḥeder contains children of all ages, rendering system impossible; its sessions are carried on for six days in the week, during the entire day. There is no summer vacation for the Jewish boy, and most of his time is spent in the ḥeder. The model ḥeder is more cleanly, and has the appearance of a properly furnished schoolroom. Unfortunately, the model ḥeder is not met with very frequently.
A better conception of the old ḥeder and the old Talmud Torah may be obtained from the following, taken from the "Voskhod": "Our ḥadarim," writesa correspondent from Zvenigorodka, government of Kiev, "with their melammedim, represent a copy in miniature of the medieval Inquisition applied to children. There are no rules and no system. . . . Our Talmud Torah makes a still sadder picture. . . . Its program consists of cold, hunger, corporal punishment, and Hebrew reading." Another correspondent, from Vitebsk, writes: "Our Talmud Torahs are filthy rooms, crowded from nine in the morning until nine in the evening with pale, starved children. These remain in this contaminated atmosphere for twelve hours at a time and see only their bent, exhausted teachers. . . . Most of them are clad in rags; some of them are almost naked. . . . Their faces are pale and sickly, and their bodies are evidently not strong. In parties of twenty or thirty, and at times more, they all repeat some lesson aloud after their instructor. He who has not listened to the almost absurd commentaries of the ignorant melammed can not even imagine how little the children gain from such instruction." These quotations might be multiplied indefinitely. Those given are, however, sufficient to show how the Jewish masses within the Pale of Settlement obtain their ḥeder education.
- Buduschnost, 1902, iii. 172;
- Voskhod, 1893,xiii. 100; 1894, ix. 1;
- Yevreiski Yezhegodnik, pp. 156, 250, St. Petersburg, 1902;
- Sovremennyye Russko-Yevreiskiye Dyeyateli, p. 53, Odessa, 1899;
- K Istorii Obrazovaniya Russkikh Yevreyev;
- M. G. Margulies, Yevreiskaya Biblioteka, i. 134, St. Petersburg, 1881;
- Buchholz, Gesch. der Juden in Riga;
- Die Juden in Russland (edited by August Scholtz), p. 102, Berlin, 1900;
- Lerner Yevrei v Novorosiskom Kraye, pp. 5, 34, 198, 218, 225, Odessa, 1901.
The extensive emigration of Jews from eastern Europe, where a large Jewish population has concentrated within the last century, forms a very significant phenomenon of Jewish life during the last two decades, and is full of meaning for the entire Jewish people. This emigration has been directed to different regions; namely, North America, England, South Africa, Palestine, Argentina, and Australia. There is no doubt, however, that the main stream has been directed to the United States, and in consequence the Jewish population of that country, which until the eighth decade of the nineteenth century was but small, is now about 1,500,000 persons.Sources of Information.
The study of this subject presents very considerable difficulties. Russian official statistics afford no information, while the registration at certain foreign ports gives the countries from which the immigrants come, but not their nationality or religion. Though data of Russian emigration through all the German ports and through Antwerp are available, it would seem that during certain years more immigrants from Russia entered the United States alone than had passed through all these ports together; nevertheless a not inconsiderable number of emigrants proceed from Antwerp and Germany to Argentina, Brazil, and South Africa. It becomes necessary, therefore, to seek the desired information in the immigration statistics of the country which is the principal destination of the immigrants, namely, the United States. These statistics, which have been kept since 1820, and which are absolutely reliable, are for the purposes of this article, however, not entirely satisfactory; for up to the year 1898 immigrants were classified only according to the countries from which they came, and not according to race and religion as well. Since the year 1898-99, however, this additional information has been registered, so that it is now possible to determine the extent and character of Jewish emigration to the North-American continent. Moreover, competent authorities agree that until the ninth decade of the nineteenth century the immigrants from Russia (excluding Poland and Finland) were, with the exception of some thousands of Mennonites, almost exclusively Jews. Of recent years the Russian immigrants have included a considerable number of Lithuanians and Germans; but for the year 1903-4 two-thirds of the immigrants from Russia (exclusive of Poland and Finland) were Jews. The following table shows the total immigration into the United States, and that from Russia, beginning with the year 1870-71:
|Year.||Total Immigrants.||Russian Immigrants.|
The data concerning the total immigration have been purposely given, inasmuch as immigration to any country is influenced mainly by two factors. It depends, in the first place, on the advantages to be obtained in the new country, and in the second upon the forces tending to send the emigrants from the old. In years of industrial prosperity, when there is a great demand for labor, immigration increases rapidly, and during an industrial crisis it decreases proportionately. It is but natural that the general causes influencing the economic life of the United States should modify the extent of Russian immigration. Of still greater influence in the case of Russian Jews are the forces which drive the Jewish population from the Pale of Settlement. An examination of the foregoing table shows that there have been two distinct waves in Russian immigration. The first was not great, the maximum intensity being attained in 1873-74, when there were 7,477 arrivals in the United States. This was a time of prosperity in that country. After the crisis which led to a decrease in the total immigration, an increase is again apparent in 1879-80; and the figures gradually rise until 1881-82, when the high-water mark of 788,992 inthe total immigration is reached. This is accompanied by a similar increase in the immigration from Russia, the arrivals in the latter year numbering 17,497, an increase over the preceding year of more than 100 per cent. In this rapid increase are seen evidences of the results of the well-known events of the early eighties in Russia—the anti-Jewish riots, the ministry of Count Ignatiev, and the passing of the "Temporary Regulations" (May Laws). With the resignation of Ignatiev (June 12, 1882) the number of immigrants from Russia decreased to 6,907; but in 1883-84 it again rose, to 15,122. Since that time emigration from Russia to the United States has steadily grown.Effect of the "Temporary Regulations."
It is evident that within the Pale of Settlement chronic conditions had arisen which drove its population to other countries. These conditions were no less than an economic crisis in the life of the Jewish population, intimately connected with the legal limitations and particularly with the rigid application of the "Temporary Regulations." In 1891-92 the gradually growing Jewish immigration took another bound upward, from 42,195 to 76,417. This was the year of the expulsion of the Jews from Moscow by order of the fanatical Grand Duke Sergius, and of their extensive removal from the interior of the country and from the villages. After this the number of immigrants from Russia diminished until 1896-97, when the minimum of 22,750 was reached. A summary of the figures in the foregoing table by decades since 1870 shows that during the first decade there annually entered the United States an average of 4,108 Russian immigrants; during the second decade, 20,686; and during the third, 38,058. For further statistical data see Migration; United States.
With the expulsion of the Jews by the czarina Elizabeth Petrovna (Dec. 2, 1742) the Jewish problem in Russia was apparently solved; but on the partition of Poland, Russia received the territory now known as "White Russia," and other provinces having a large Jewish population. The people of these regions were granted all rights "without distinction of faith or nationality" (Feb. 26, 1785). But even as early as the reign of Catherine II. this decree was not strictly observed, and afterward the Jews were subjected to various acts of special legislation, the origin of which may be ascribed to several motives: (1) The Religious Motive: The conversion of a Jew to Christianity frees him from all restrictions. The only impediment to the enjoyment of equal rights by Jews is their religion (Senate decisions, 1889, § 25). (2) The Economic Motive: To protect the native population from so-called Jewish exploitation. (3) The Fiscal Motive: The fear that Jews might engage in contraband trade. This caused restrictive measures to be passed against them, and led, for instance, to their removal from the western boundaries to a circle 50 versts distant. (4) To Reduce the Population: The permission to establish a Jewish colonization association for the emigration of the Jews. Jews leaving Russia with permits to colonize elsewhere are considered (Rules, May 8, 1892) to have abandoned Russia forever. (5) The Assimilation Motive: Jews are forbidden to wear clothes different from those worn by the rest of the population; Jewesses are forbidden to shave their heads (ukase, March 31, 1856).
On Oct. 19, 1881, the commission which had been appointed to report on the subject of Jewish affairs, having completed a project for Jewish registration, was discharged, and in its place a committee was formed for the examination of the material collected by the local commissions on the Jewish question. This committee was placed under the chairmanship of Assistant Minister of the Interior Gotovtzev. When the committee was summoned the following persons took part in the proceedings: I. N. Durnovo, the Prince of Tzertelev, and Professors Andreyevski, Grigoryev, and Bestyuzhev - Ryumin. Shortly afterward this committee was merged in a high commission appointed to examine into the operation of the laws affecting the Jews. Its first chairman was Makov, the minister of the interior, who served till his death in 1883, and was succeeded by Count K. N. Pahlen. This commission was discontinued Nov. 17, 1888.
The existing laws affecting Jews will be found in articles 952-989, 992, 993, 1004, of volume ix. of the Code (ed. 1876); articles 11-25, 157-165, 289-291, of volume xi., part 1 (ed. 1890); and articles 700-705, 1060-1096, 1135-1139, of volume xi., part 1.
Following is a summary of the special legislation concerning the Jews of Russia:
- I. Legislation on Subdivision: This concerned the separating of Jews into three classes: (a) Karaites; (b) foreign Jews; (c) Polish Jews. As regards (a): The czarina Catherine II., in the year 1795, suggested to the governor-general of Voznesensk and Taurida that certain regions of these districts be assigned to the Karaites. From that time additional rights were granted them until 1863, when it was declared that the Karaites "enjoy all the rights accorded to Russian subjects."At first all foreign Jews (b) were allowed to reside in Russia within the Pale of Settlement. In 1824, however, this privilege was restricted, and now only the following are allowed to live within the Pale: rabbis, sent for by the government; physicians for the army or navy; manufacturers intending to establish factories (not distilleries); mechanics for Jewish factories. Foreign Jews not having right of residence may not own real property in the Pale; and if they inherit any, it must be sold within six months of the notification of the inheritance. The right of residence and freedom to engage in any occupation were granted to Polish Jews (c) under certain restrictions until 1862, but they were not permitted to own real estate. Though on May 24, 1862, they were granted full rights, in recent years restrictive measures have been revived.
- II. Legislation Concerning Religious and Communal Organizations: Within the Pale, Jews may have one bet ha-midrash to every thirty dwellings and one synagogue to every eighty. Without the Pale, a permit to establish a bet ha-midrash or a synagogue must first be obtained from the ministry of the interior (Dec. 25, 1867). Regular attendants at a synagogue constitute a praying community and may elect theirown ecclesiatic government, which consists of one man learned in the ritual, an elder, and a treasurer, the local rabbis being ex-officio members. Jews in every locality are organized into a taxable community, which may elect its own tax-collector and assistants, the latter being also assessors.In 1842 a Jewish commission was appointed to solve certain religious problems. From this was developed a rabbinical commission which was attached to the ministry of the interior (June 24, 1848); its purpose was to sanction by religious authority reforms contemplated by the government. Sessions of the commission were held in 1852, 1857, 1861, 1879, and 1893.
- III. Legislation Regarding the Pale of Settlement: For conditions within the Pale see Pale of Settlement.As regards Jews without the Pale, i.e., those enjoying the right to live in isolated localities, the following legislation was enacted: (1) Only those Jews who had been registered prior to April 18, 1835, were permitted to reside in Courland and in the suburb Shlok Lievland. (2) In Nikolaief and Sebastopol Jews were granted residential rights on Dec. 23, 1791, but were expelled Nov. 20, 1829, notwithstanding the governor-general's intercession. In 1859 it was again found useful to grant them permanent residence in those cities. (3) In the city of Kiev, on June 23, 1794, Jews were permitted to engage in business; they were expelled in 1827, but on Dec. 11, 1861, Jews of the first and the second mercantile gilds (at present the permission is extended only to those of the first gild) were granted permanent residence in the districts of Lybedskaya and Ploskaya. (4) By the Senate decisions of 1888 the native mountain Jews of the Caucasus enjoy the same rights as the native Caucasians (No. 10). (5) In Turkestan the name "native," according to article 262 of the Turkestan Code, applies also to old Jewish settlers and their progeny (May 23, 1889). (6) In Siberia, Jewish agricultural colonies were established at Tobolsk and Omsk in 1835. Emigration thither was stopped in 1857, and measures were taken to diminish the number of Jews there. At present domicil in Siberia is permitted to banished Jewish settlers and their children.
- IV. Legislation Concerning Temporary Sojourn: The following classes of Jews may remain temporarily outside the Pale: heirs, for the purpose of receiving legacies; litigants before the courts of justice; merchants; and bidders on contracts. These may remain six weeks, with a possible extension to two months. Carriers are allowed two weeks; a merchant of the first gild, six months: one of the second gild, two months; and learned Jews attached to the staffs of the governors, during their term of service. Those having no rights are deported.
- V. Legislation Concerning the Right to Acquire or Lease Property: During the nineteenth century the Russian government, wishing to interest the Jews in agriculture, issued various rules to facilitate their acquisition or renting of land. This encouragement continued during the reign of Nicholas I. Wherever they were allowed permanent residence Jews could acquire all kinds of realty, except inhabited estates. At present (1905), however, they are forbidden to acquire, hold under mortgage, or lease realty in any of the following localities: (1) Outside the cities and towns within the Pale. (2) In nine of the western provinces of the Pale. (3) On a strip 50 versts wide along the western border, when not registered there. (4) In the provinces of Courland, Donarmy, Finland, Kuban, Lievland, Akmolinsk, Semipalatinsk, Semirechinsk, Terek, and Ural.
- VI. Legislation Concerning Commercial and Industrial Rights: Jews within the Pale may join mercantile gilds and engage unrestrictedly in business and manufactures. Jewish artisans and laborers may join trade corporations ("tzekh") even outside the Pale; within the Pale, Jews form their own corporations (Rules, 1852). First-gild merchants in the Pale may import or export goods through Christians. Restrictions imposed on manufacturers may be removed by government purveyors of their products.Jews, where allowed temporary residence, may neither sell goods at home nor peddle them, under penalty of confiscation of the goods or of deportation of the person offering them for sale. This law is now applied even to Jews having common right of residence (Decisions, Criminals Cassations Department 731/743, 12/17, 20/77, 7/89), etc.
- VII. Legislation Concerning Education: (1) General Institutions: The laws of 1835 expressed the principle that Jewish children might be received into all schools. In 1886 and 1887 the number of Jewish students in secondary and higher institutions was restricted within the Pale to 10 per cent, elsewhere except in St. Petersburg and Moscow to 5 per cent, and in those cities to 3 per cent. To some schools Jews are not admitted. (2) Government Schools for Jews: On Nov. 13, 1844, a decree ordered the establishment of primary and secondary schools for Jewish children, and rabbinical schools for the training of teachers and rabbis. On March 16, 1873, it was decreed that: (a) the rabbinical schools in Wilna and Jitomir be changed into institutes for Jewish teachers; (b) the grammar schools be closed; (c) the Jewish primary schools be retained only where the number of general schools was insufficient. At present only the teachers' institute in Wilna and a few primary schools remain. (3) Private Schools: In 1856 rules were issued for the supervision of the private education of Jewish children. Teachers were compelled to procure certificates, and were restricted as to subjects and the methods of teaching. Since 1893 teachers' certificates have been issued for one year only, for a fee of from one to three dollars.
- VIII. Legislation Concerning the Right to Hold Office: (1) State Service: In 1835 the state service was open to Jews without the Pale holding the doctor's degree and possessing a testimonial from the minister of education and a permit from the czar. To these were added in 1836 and 1838 Jews living within the Pale who held similar credentials, and on Nov. 28, 1861, all Jews with academic degrees were included, without restriction of residence. These privileges were extended in 1865, 1866, and 1867, somewhat restrictedly, to physicians not having academic titles. At present the rights above mentioned are practically void. In 1882 the number of Jewish physicians and nurses in the army was limited to 5 percent. (2) Communal Service: (a) In the ante-reform institutions. Jewish municipal representatives, limited to one-third of the council, were elected (1839) by their respective communities. Jews are eligible to no other municipal offices. (b) In the new institutions (Jan. 1, 1864). The Jewish elective rights, which at first were unrestricted, were suspended on June 12, 1890, and regulations ordering the preparation of a list of eligible Jews from which the councilmen might elect a number (not exceeding one-tenth of the whole council) to the chamber, was substituted on June 11, 1892. (c) As jurors, Jews are elected in proportion to the population. They may not be foremen, nor may they try cases of infraction of the ecclesiastical laws. (3) In the Army: Jewish privates or volunteers may not be granted commissions nor be admitted to the military schools (1887). They may not direct military bands, nor be assigned to quarantine, frontier, navy, or gendarmerie service, nor to service in Warsaw or Caucasia.
- IX. Legislation Concerning the Practise of Law: The code of Nov. 20, 1864, puts no limitation on the practise of law by the Jews. The regulations of Nov. 8, 1884, and April 10, 1890, make the admission of Jews to attorneyship dependent on a permit from the minister of justice. This, however, has never been granted.
- X. Legislation Concerning Military Duty: Until 1827 Jews, instead of performing military duty, had to pay a money-tax. On Aug. 26, 1827, personal military duty on the part of Jews was introduced, the ages of recruits being from twelve to twenty-five years, and the rate ten from each thousand males per annum (at this time the non-Jewish rate was seven per thousand every second year). On Aug. 26, 1856, Jews were granted equal rights with other citizens as regards military duty. The military code of Jan. 1, 1864, contains no special rules for Jews. Later, orders were issued (Feb. 3, 1876) that unfit recruits be replaced by their healthy coreligionists; (May 9, 1878) that any shortage in a precinct be supplied by the drafting of those exempt from duty in such precinct; and (April 12, 1886) that the transfer of Jews from one recruiting precinct to another be restricted. The family of a Jew who evaded service was liable to a fine of 300 rubles, and a reward of 50 rubles was offered for his capture. The number of Jewish recruits drafted during the period embraced within the years 1874 to 1892 (excepting 1883, for which no reliable figures are obtainable) was 173,434.
- XI. Legislation Concerning the Jewish Oath: The chief peculiarity of the Jewish oath is that it implies distrust of the person who is taking it and assumes that he will swear falsely. The person swears that he will testify or act not with mental reservation nor according to any secret meaning of the oath taken, but in accordance with the intention of those administering it. Imprecations and renunciations of the Jewish faith in case the oath is violated are eliminated from the oath as at present administered.H. R. M. My.
- XII. Legislation Concerning Special Taxation: The Double Tax: By the decree of 1794 the Jews were ordered to pay double taxes for the privilege of engaging in handicrafts or commercial enterprises. Those already engaged in such enterprises were given the alternative of leaving Russia after the expiration of three years, during which period, however, the double taxes on their respective occupations were to be paid. In 1799, when the Jews of Courland were granted the right of permanent residence, this decree was reaffirmed, but modified in favor of those of the Courland Jews who were too poor to pay the double tax for three years, and they were immediately sent across the frontier. In 1800 this modification was abolished, and persons too poor to pay the double tax were to set to work in the government smelting-works.The double tax was retained in the regulations of 1804, exceptions being made in favor of Jewish farmers, factory-hands, and artisans. At this time the government promised to take proper measures to place the Jews on the same level as other subjects, "when all the Jews engaged in agriculture, manufactures, and commerce will show tenacity of purpose and diligence." This tax was imposed on both sexes and thus made more burdensome.After 1818 a decree was promulgated which declared that "on account of the impoverished condition of the Jews" they should be required to pay only a single tax; but the government took harsh measures in the collection of arrears. Thus, in 1830, in order to collect them in the governments of Minsk, Grodno, Wilna, and Podolia, the Jews were impressed into military service with the provision that each community furnishing recruits should be credited with 1,000 rubles for every recruit over twenty years old and with 500 rubles for every recruit under that age. This regulation was abolished in the same year, revived in 1851, and finally abolished in 1857.Another measure, passed in 1831, called for an additional payment by Jewish merchants whenever the amount paid by their Jewish townspeople was insufficient. This was abolished in 1856.A third measure, the purpose of which was to provide for tax deficiencies and also to supply funds for the education of the Jewish youth, originated the basket-tax, the candle-tax, the tax on Jewish garments, and the tax on Jewish printing establishments. For details of the Basket-Tax see Jew. Encyc. ii. 578b.The Candle-Tax: This tax is collected on candles lighted by Jewesses on Saturday night. It was established in 1844 and was intended exclusively for the support of Jewish schools. It was at first subject to lease, but as this led to abuses the following regulations were formulated in 1851, to be in force for a period of three years: (1) The total amount to be levied by candle-tax was 230,000 rubles. This was to be collected for three years beginning with 1853. (2) This amount was to be apportioned annually by the ministry of the interior. (3) Each community was to subdivide its pro rata tax. (4) Each community was to be responsible for collecting its proper share. (5) The tax was to be collected by the elders and their assistants, and was to be remitted to the city councils. (6) The elders, their assistants, the members of the city councils, etc., were to be held responsible to the government for the fulfilment of their duties. (7) The ministry ofpublic instruction was to inform the ministry of the interior annually of the amount of the candle-tax fund due from the various communities. (8) The dates when the taxes should be remitted were to be determined by the common consent of the two ministries. (9) The ministry of the interior was to be entrusted with the carrying out of the details affecting the distribution of the funds.In accordance with a decree issued Dec. 24, 1858, these rules are still in force.The Tax on Jewish Garments: For the legislation on Jewish garments see the article Costume.The Tax on Jewish Printing Establishments: In 1845 the printing of Jewish books was confined to two printing-houses; the privilege of printing was sold at public auction to the highest bidder among Jews in good standing. Moreover, a duty not to exceed 1½ kopeks per printed sheet was imposed on Jewish books brought from abroad, exception being made in favor of those treating scientific subjects or relating to the study of languages. As a result of this tax the prices of books rose beyond the means of the Jewish masses. The attention of Alexander II. having been directed to this matter, he ordered by a decree dated July 1, 1862, that the Jews should be permitted to open establishments for the printing of Jewish books exclusively, (1) in all places where Jews were permitted to reside, and wherever the ministry of public instruction might find it possible and convenient to have special Jewish censors, and (2) in St. Petersburg, the books to be sold to Jews who enjoyed the right of residence in the capital. These printing establishments were taxed to support the Jewish schools—20 rubles for each hand-press; 120 rubles for each small power printing-press; and 240 rubles for each large power printing-press.
- Sistematicheski Ukazatel Literatury o Yevreyakh no Russkom Yazyke s 1708-1889, St. Petersburg, 1893;
- V. O. Levanda Polny, Chronoligicheski Sbornik Zakonov i Polozheni, Kasayushchikhsya Yevreyev ot Utozheni Czarya Alexeya Mikhailovicha do 1873 Goda;
- E. Levin, Svod Uzakoneni o Yevreyakh s Razyasneniyami, St. Petersburg, 1884;
- Prince N. N. Golitzyn, Istoria Russkavo Zakonodatelstva o Yevreyakh, vol. i., ib. 1886;
- N. D. Gradovski, Torgoviya i Drugiya Prava Yevreyev v Rossii, ib. 1886;
- V. N. Nikitin, Yevreyi Zemledyeltzy, ib. 1887;
- I. G. Orshanski, Russkoye Zakonodatelstvo o Yevreyakh, ib. 1877;
- idem, Yevrei v Rossi, ib. 1877;
- M. I. Mysh, Rukovodstvo K Russkim Zakonam o Yevreyakh, ib. 1892;
- Demidov San-Donato, Yevreiski Vopros v Rossii, ib. 1883;
- M. L. Peskovsky, Rokovoye Nedorazumyeniye: Yevreiski Vopros, Yevo Mirovaya Istoria i Yestestvenni Put Razryesheniyu, ib. 1891;
- Mysh, Rukovodstvo K Russkim Zakonam o Yevreyakh, 2d ed., p. 432, St. Petersburg, 1898.
The earliest treatment of the Jew in Russian literature is an abstract one, the conception of his character being founded on the ancient Church enmity. This conception gives place but very gradually to a tolerant attitude inspired by broader knowledge. Notwithstanding the fact that certain relations with the Jews were maintained by ancient Moscow, and that at the end of the eighteenth century Russia included among its subjects hundreds of thousands of Jews, all the references to the Jews in Russian literature up to the middle of the nineteenth century are marked by intolerance and deep ignorance. The oldest literature, which is religious and polemical in character, is directed not so much against men as against religion; its purpose is to show the superiority of the New Testament "grace" to the Old Testament "Law," and to expose from the dogmatic standpoint the teachings of the Jewish religion.First Attempts.
The supposed social and ethical faults of the Jews, brought to the front by medieval Europe, are scarcely touched upon. Ancient Muscovy occasionally expelled or slaughtered its Jews, not because they were usurers, nor because they exploited the population, but on the ground that their ancestors crucified Jesus. This circumstance determined the point of view of the literature, in which, until its renaissance in the first half of the nineteenth century, references to the Jews are exceedingly rare. It was only in the reign of Nicholas I., when questions of Jewish life called with particular insistence for the attention of the government, that Russian literature first created Jewish types and found an expression for its conception of the Jews.
Notwithstanding the fact that these first attempts to portray the Jews were made by the greatest of contemporary writers, the descriptions do not indicate an intimate acquaintance with Jewish life; they merely reproduce commonplace types, partly caricatures and partly repulsive monstrosities. Such are the detestable poisoner in Pushkin's "Skupoi Rytzar"; the Jewish traitor and coward in the "Taras Bulba," by Gogol; the professional Jewish spy in young Lermontof's poem, "Sashka." Later on, in a story entitled "Zhid," by the tolerant Turgenef, there occurs an even more disgusting and impossible Jewish spy, who barters his own daughter. Economic and periodical literature, hampered by the censorship and hardly able to maintain its existence, paid no attention to the Jews. But new tendencies were already discernible, and the great teacher of an entire generation of Russian humanists, the cultured Granovski, declared from his chair in the University of Moscow: "Two thousand years of cruel suffering and affliction have erased at last the bloody boundary-line separating the Jews from humanity. The honor of this reconciliation, which is becoming firmer from day to day, belongs to our age. The civic status of the Jews is now established in most of the European countries, and even in the backward countries their condition is improved, if not by law, then by enlightenment."
At the outset of the civic regeneration of Russia, the Russian Liberals readily agreed that it was merely necessary for the Jews to adapt themselves to the national culture in order to remove entirely the last traces of the ancient enmity. No one suspected at that time that for the proper solution of the Jewish question it would be necessary to enlighten, not the Jews, but the nations surrounding them. Then came the epoch of the "great reforms" of Emperor Alexander II. With irresistible force young Russia abolished her previous injustice and resigned her traditional prejudices. The Jews, who had freed themselves of the faults produced by centuries of slavery and had surrendered everything which isolated them from the great Russian family, were entitled in the near future to become its fullfledged members. A protest signed by all the prominent writers was made against the use of the word "Zhid." In Russian literature itself the Jewishquestion had no separate place; it appeared there only as a portion of a greater question concerning the fundamental regeneration of Russian life and Russian government. There was no belligerent anti-Semitism. The weak and infrequent attacks of the obscurantists were met by the recently founded Jewish journals.Alexander II.
Worthy of note in this connection is the activity of the pedagogue and surgeon N. I. Pirogov. To the traditional ill-will exhibited toward the Jews he opposed clear and convincing proofs of their worth founded on his intimate acquaintance with the life of the Jewish masses in Southwest Russia. In the main, however, Russian literature still showed but a slight and superficial knowledge of the economic and spiritual life of the Jews. This fact was realized, but there was no one with the ability to remove the reproach. In the early seventies the mouthpiece of young and cultured Russia, the monthly "Otechestvenyya Zapiski," began to publish Grigori Bogrov's "Zapiski Yevreya," a story of Russian-Jewish life. It acquainted educated Russian society with a world new to it, so near and yet so strange. The novel had a greater success in Jewish than in Russian circles. In 1855 there appeared in "Russki Vyestnik" O. Rabinovich's "Shtrafnoi." In "Yevreskaya Biblioteka" Levanda first published his artistic sketches of the life of Russian Polish Jews and of the ḳahal of the sixties of the nineteenth century. The entire Russian literature of the seventies is stamped by a careless indifference toward the Jews.
In this epoch of "great reforms," inspired by general political and progressive ideals, the Jews had no active enemies, neither had they real friends. They were not known, nor was it regarded as necessary to know them. But a change was soon brought about. The declining prosperity of the peasantry led to a search for the cause of its poverty, unforeseen at the time of the liberation of the serfs. The petty officials readily found it in the activity of the village Jews. More intelligent, industrious, gifted, and temperate, they crowded out the unstable representatives of the corrupt landlord class from the various spheres of free labor. The part played by Jews in revolutionary movements was found to be considerable. The war with Turkey easily infected superficially cultured Russian society with coarse nationalism. This prepared the way for an outbreak of anti-Semitism, always near the surface among the great mass of the people. Its strongest exponent among the prominent writers was Dostoyevski, who saw in the Jews only the most modern vehicles of those liberal ideas which he had constantly fought against. With the ingenuity characteristic of him, he advocated the granting to the Jews of full rights, on condition, however, that this political equality should not make them stronger than the native population—a condition which deprived his suggestion of any significance. The anti-Russian activity of Lord Beaconsfield and several lawsuits with Jewish military contractors afforded considerable material for the agitators. The Russian press found a demand for anti-Semitism which it actively supplied.The "Novoye Vremya."
To this period belong the first success of the newspaper "Novoye Vremya" and the beginning of the active and successful anti-Jewish propaganda which this influential paper has been carrying on for more than a quarter of a century. It was joined by others less widely circulated: the "Novorossiski Telegraph," published by Ozmidov in Odessa; the "Kievlyanim," published by Pikhno in Kiev; and the insignificant "Luch," in St. Petersburg. The terrible violence of the South-Russian "pogromy" (riots) and the reactionary reign of Alexander III. placed the Liberal press at a disadvantage; lack of familiarity with Jewish life was always one of its failings. It could not at once assume a definite attitude toward this important question, and protest with proper firmness and force against the tragedy of the annihilation of an entire people. It had previously been accustomed to guard the nation against the discretionary measures of the government; but in this case common sense showed that no policy could be suggested other than a physical struggle of the authorities in behalf of the Jews against the turbulent masses.
Still more important was the fact that the Jewish populace appeared to the Russian Liberals not as an industrial people, but exclusively as petty bourgeois. Being accustomed to trust in popular opinion and await the solution of political questions by contemporary popular movements, a portion of the Russian Radicals was not loath to see in the Jewish pogromy the beginning of such a popular movement; nor was it entirely free from the belief that the pogromy were violent attempts of the masses to throw off the burdens of exploitation. For this reason the protests of the Russian writers against the pogromy were, if not evasive, at least not sufficiently courageous and sincere. The forceful exception was the voice of the great Russian satirist and journalist Saltykov-Shchedrin. In an article entitled "Yulskoye Vyeyaniye," published in the most influential of the Russian progressive papers, edited by himself, he expressed with splendid passion and pathos the deep significance and tragedy of the suffering of the Jews and the absurdity of the accusations directed against them. With his customary penetration he described the real cause of anti-Semitism and the soil on which it had developed, appealing to his readers to make themselves acquainted at first hand with Jewish life. When the single appeal of Saltykov was sounded it was as from a voice crying in the wilderness.Alexander III.
The entire reign of Alexander III. was an epoch of anti-Semitic orgies, in the press, in society, and above all in government circles. Enactments directed not only against the economic welfare of the Jews, but also against their participation in the blessings of culture, followed one another rapidly. The bringing of accusations against the Jews in the anti-Semitic press was systematized. The "Novoye Vremya," with its satellites, among which the "Nablyudatel," edited by Pyatkovski, was preeminent in unrestrained attacks, stopped at nothing, not even at methodically persistent accusations of ritual murder. This met with but feeble resistance.Reactionary feeling dominated not only the government, but a considerable portion of the Russian people, and the refutations of the historian of the Jews, S. A. Bershadski, of the statesman Demidov, and of the journalists Chicherin and K. K. Arsenyev were without avail.The Jewish Question a Christian Question.
Some time afterward the attention of society was attracted by the attempts of two really influential writers to defend the Jews. The attitude of the philosopher V. S. Solovyev and of the writer V. G. Korolenko was the more valuable because it was not inspired by mere pity, but by the evident consciousness of the fact that the suppression of anti-Semitism is of great importance not only for the Jews, but also for the Christians. For Solovyev the Jewish question was a Christian one—namely, that of Christianizing the Aryan world, hitherto Christian only in name. A deeply religious thinker and a Hebrew scholar, he energetically rehabilitated the Talmud and personally endeavored wherever possible to influence the representatives of society and government. The humanitarian champion of everything outlawed and oppressed in Russia, Korolenko attempted to influence Russian society not only by the artistic types in his excellent stories, but also by articles on current questions and by enthusiastic participation in every social undertaking aiming to improve the condition of the Jews. In his "Yom Kippur" he showed that even when seen through an anti-Semitic lens the average Jew, with all his faults, is better than the native Russian "Kulak" who exploits the village population. "Skazanye o-Florye-Rimlyaninye," transporting the reader to the time of Roman sway over the Holy Land, depicts in living and attractive colors the types of Jewish youth who would not wait to conquer by submission. It was the intention of the author to reply in this story to Tolstoi's theory of non-resistance to evil, but the "Skazanye," addressed to the Jews, could have been taken also as an appeal to their national consciousness. Two voluminous, coarsely anti-Semitic novels that appeared at this time—"Tiomny Put," by Kot-Murlyka, and "Tma Yegipetskaya," by Vsevolod Krestovski—met with no success.
Anton Chekhov, also, a native of South Russia, devoted some time and attention to the Jews. Highly talented, but with insufficiently developed social temperament, he modified his attitude toward the Jews according to the fluctuations in his social sympathies. At first a collaborator on humorous papers, he did not fall far short of clownish raillery. After he had become connected with the "Novoye Vremya" he presented, in two stories entitled "Perakati-Pole" and "Tino," several more passable though somewhat negative Jewish types; and finally, in his "Step" (a story) and "Ivanov" (a comedy), published in the Liberal "Syeverny Vyestnik," he showed that he had had direct acquaintance with the Jews and was capable of working his impressions into lifelike images. But the general attitude of Russian literature at that time toward the Jews may be described as indefinite. Although aggressive and defensive tendencies were distinctly observable, neither were characterized by what is most important, namely, insight into the essence of Jewish life, a clear understanding thereof, and the ability to express this understanding to others. New restrictive enactments were met simply by objections—logical and sensible, it is true—on the part of the Liberal press, while the violently vindictive accusations of the anti-Semites were answered by a few stories from Jewish life which showed that the Jews also were human beings and were besides for the most part poor and suffering—as much so as their supposed victims.Importance of Solving the Jewish Question.
This was the condition in which Russian literature was found by the social movement of the nineties of the nineteenth century. The reactionary policy of the government became unbearable, even for the patient Russian society. The most acute expression of this reaction was the attitude of the government and its press toward the Jews. Naturally this attracted the attention of the progressive Russian elements, and the enlistment of their sympathies was favored by the evidences of a growing consciousness of responsibility on the part of the Jews, who, ceasing to regard their interests as identical with those of general Russian progress, turned their attention to the specific needs of their own people and began to announce them boldly and persistently. This caused certain modifications in the attitude of Russian literature toward the Jews. Its representatives realized for the first time that the Jewish question called for concentrated attention, that they had hitherto sinned by their indifference, and that they had thereby injured their own cause. They realized, even if not fully, that the solution of the Jewish question was not only a portion of their coming victory, but that in fact it was a preliminary condition of that victory; and the mere number of active participants furnished by the Jews in the final struggle for the complete liberation of Russia showed that their emancipation would be the greatest contribution to the successful conclusion of the struggle. Sketches from Jewish life are gradually occupying more space in Russian periodicals. The misfortunes of the Jews are meeting with greater sympathy among the more cultured Russians than has been the case heretofore. Famine among the Bessarabian Jews led to an appeal in "Pomoshch," a literary annual, which appeal was supported by the most prominent Russian writers.After the Kishinef Affair.
The coarsely anti-Semitic play of the converted Jew Litvin, "Kontrabandisty," was received with hisses by the Russian youth, both in the capital and in the provinces. Finally, the tragedy of Kishinef brought into existence an entire literature of indignant protests, individual and collective, from the most prominent representatives of Russian letters. Among them should be mentioned Maxim Gorki, always sympathetic to Jewish needs, who gave a powerful description of the Nijni-Novgorod pogrom of 1882, of which he was an eye-witness, and who after the Kishinef horrors raised a passionate protest against the exemption from punishment of the moral instigators of the crime. The romantically exaggerated figure of the pitiable Jew in Gorki's "Artemi Kain" should be notedhere. The more conscious attitude of the Russian writers toward the Jews found weak expression in the artistic literature. Among its most prominent manifestations may be noted the stories by Machtet; "Zhid," by Potapenko; "Itzek-Shmul Briliantshchik," by Garin-Michailovski; "Itzka i Davidka," by Yablonovski; "Nukhim," by Alexander Novikov; "Poslednyaya Povyest Katzenbogena," by Menshin Yakubovich; "Kobylka v Puti"; and others.
The Russian writers are seemingly attempting to share with their readers those living and strong impressions which they themselves receive in their infrequent meetings with the Jews. That they are thus supplying a real demand is proved by the success which has been gained among the Russian reading public by writers upon Jewish life. At one time the artistic creations of the Jewish belletristic writers found with difficulty a place in the Russian journals. The greatness of such writers as Levanda passed entirely unnoticed among Russian readers, who were not acquainted with the Jewish periodical press (in Russian). On the other hand, the stories of Kogan-Naumov, Khin, Yushkevitch, Aiseman, and Khotimski found a place in the general journals and considerable success in separate editions.
One of the most recent Russian productions from Jewish life is "Yevrei," by Chirikov, a successful attempt to put into dramatic setting not only the daily life but also the spiritual tendencies of contemporary Russian Jews. This attempt is quite characteristic of the present-day attitude of Russian Liberal literature, which has now separated itself from the old abstract conceptions concerning the Jews. It has become more careful and sympathetic toward them. It has passed beyond the boundaries of the old, obscure humanist apology, and describes various groups and spiritual types among the Jews, though to an insufficient extent; and it still lacks, as formerly, a more exact acquaintance with Jewish life and an understanding of Jewish psychology. Russian literature, for all its outward nearness to the Jews, notwithstanding the necessity of penetrating into this but slightly explored world, and in spite of the significant place Jews hold in Russian life, can not show to the present day a single production from Jewish life equal in pathos and tolerance to Lessing's "Nathan the Wise," in power of description to Gutzkov's "Uriel Acosta," in insight into Jewish daily life to the works of Elizabeth Ozheshko. The Jews have not yet found their poet in Russian literature.
When at the first partition of Poland the Jews of the region that was ultimately known as White Russia became subjects of the czarina, they were all registered in the towns and neighboring villages. But they were not included in the mass of the Christian urban population, and their status remained the same as when they lived in Poland. The ḳahals represented the Jews in communal affairs, and were responsible to the government in all matters of taxation; as a result the Jews as individuals were isolated from the civic and social life of their neighbors. But in 1780 the Jews were given the right to register in merchant gilds, and, in consequence, those of their number who had not the capital necessary for registration in the merchant class, and who were also deprived of the right to join other classes, became members of the townfolk class. In this way the mass of the Jewish population was included in its entirety in the town population and also in the tradesman and merchant class, and formed in many cities a quantitatively predominant element.
The class of inhabitants engaged in manufacturing and commerce at that time exerted a dominant influence in the town life and in the municipal government, and its representatives filled positions in the magistracies and the town councils. Having joined the merchants and townsmen, the White-Russian Jews became subject to the urban class institutions (thus lessening the influence of the ḳahal), and took part in municipal administration. The ukase granting this right was issued by Catherine II. in 1783. The Christians of White Russia, accustomed to seeing the Jews excluded from social and political life under the Polish régime, opposed their election. The Jews complained to the empress, and the Senate decided (1786) that Jews and Christians should be elected to municipal offices in proportion to the number of Jews and Christians registered in the municipality. This decision was applied also to other governments that were added, at one time or another, to Russia from Poland.
Nevertheless, when Russian administration was established in the governments of Volhynia and Podolia the governor of these provinces prescribed that the number of Jews serving in the magistracies, which according to law were composed of two burgesses and four aldermen, should not exceed one-third of the total number—more exactly that only two of the aldermen might be Jews. This was the beginning of the limitations of the electoral rights of the Jews in Russia as a whole.
Under Paul I., on account of the reorganization of the municipal administrations, the Jews of the governments of Volhynia and Podolia were elected to the magistracies to the number of one-half of the entire number of councilmen. In 1802 the new governor of these provinces requested the Senate to prescribe that the Jews be elected to the city councils only to the extent of one-third of the entire number of councilors, and that the Christians and Jews elect their representatives separately, and not jointly as had been the custom until then. The Senate not only granted this request, but also extended the new regulation to all the governments where Jews lived, even though no complaints had been made of the supposedly injurious activity of the Jews in the municipal administrations of the other governments.
The position of the Jews in the Lithuaman governments was somewhat different. In 1802 they were granted electoral rights, but the Christians of several towns strongly opposed this concession, and it was consequently revoked. On the other hand, the Jews of the province of Byelostok received the right, under a special law, to become members of the magistracies without any limitation, and of the city councils to the extent of one-half of the entire number of councilmen; but for some unknown reasonthey were subsequently entirely excluded from the magistracies, and in some cities from the town councils also.
However, all these limiting regulations were local in character. Neither the Regulations (Polozheniye) of 1804 nor the Code of Laws of 1832 mentions the limitations in question, although both decree that the Jewish representatives shall wear German or Polish dress, and shall know one of three languages: Russian, Polish, or German.
New enactments concerning the Jews were promulgated in 1835, and one of them contained among others the following provision: "The Jewish town classes may take part in the elections for municipal offices, and any Jews knowing how to read and write Russian may be elected as members of the city councils, town councils, and magistracies under the same conditions as prevail in the election to these offices of persons of other religious beliefs." In this manner all of the limitations then in force were to become void. The enactment was energetically opposed by Prince Dolgoruki, administrator at that time of the governments of Lithuania, White Russia, and Minsk. He pointed out, among other matters, "that the election of Jews as presidents of the boards of aldermen and as city mayors would hardly be permissible since the president is the presiding officer in the courts, and the city mayor, as the representative of the entire municipality, is obliged at the opening of the elections . . . to lead the towns-people to church for religious service and is then admitted to take the oath"; and that in general "the election of Jews even as members of city magistracies and town councils is in a manner inappropriate to the decorum and sacredness of the courts, where not infrequently the oath is taken with cross and mirror; moreover, the judges should be drawn from men whose integrity and uprightness could be guaranteed at least by the morality instilled into them by education and religious precepts."
While Prince Dolgoruki's representations as to the limitation of the electoral rights of the Jews were being considered in St. Petersburg, there appeared an independent enactment (1836) limiting the election of Jews in the western governments to one-third of the total number of municipal officers. Following this came a new law (1839), called into being as a result of the representations of Prince Dolgoruki, in accordance with which the Jews in any western government might be represented in municipal organizations to the extent of only one-third the number of municipal officers, and only Christians might act as chairmen. The Jews were excluded from the positions of borough president, city mayor, etc., and also from "municipal positions which either are entirely reserved for Christians, or by virtue of their duties could not with convenience and propriety be entrusted to Jews." Aside from membership in town councils and magistracies the Jews could be elected only as aldermen, as deputies of house commissions, and to various other insignificant positions. At the same time the election of Jewish and Christian representatives was to be carried out separately by the Jews and Christians. This law led to even greater limitations in practical application. The circumstance that, contrary to law, the Jews were excluded from participation in elections of Christians to positions reserved for Christians alone, assumed a peculiar significance, because through this interpretation of the law the Jewish population was deprived of any influence in the election of higher officials, and this could but have an evil effect on the attitude of the latter toward the Jews.
In this manner participation by Jews in the various departments of the municipal government was reduced to a minimum by the law of 1839, and yet, when the ḳahal was abolished in 1844, these institutions assumed a special significance for the Jews, as they were entrusted with the administration of all matters especially affecting the Jews.
The law of 1835, which placed Jews and Christians on an equality in electoral rights, was applicable to the entire Jewish population of Russia, while the subsequent restrictive laws of 1836 and 1839 were valid only in the western governments. Nevertheless, the statement that the laws of 1836 and of 1839 were intended only for the western governments was omitted from the code of laws published in 1842, and it was probably due to this that the same limitations were occasionally to be noted in other governments. Thus, in Odessa the Jews participated with the Christians in the election of the city mayor. In 1857, at the instance of the governor-general of New Russia, the Jews took part with the Christians in the elections of the city of Kishinef.
In general, the Jews of South Russia did not suffer from the social ostracism that at one time was carefully fostered in Poland. In the former region greater respect was accorded them in civil life, and the local authorities made repeated representations to the higher government for improvement in their political condition. In 1857 Count Stroganov, the governor-general of New Russia, applied to the minister of the interior for broader electoral rights for the Jews. He was guided in this instance not alone by sentiments of justice toward them, but also by the interests of the cities, which were made to suffer because of the removal of Jews from certain positions and their replacement by persons altogether incompetent and who were therefore not qualified under the law to be entrusted with a share in the municipal administration. In consequence of this the governor of Kherson requested permission to elect a Jew as mayor of Kherson in 1862.
The ministry of the interior began the framing of new city regulations in 1862, and among these one of the ministry of Valuyev prescribed that Jews might be elected to the town council to the number of one-half of the total members thereof, and that they might also participate in the election of the city mayor, although no Jew was eligible for that office. But subsequently the new minister, Timashev, decreed that Jews might be elected to the town council and town administration only to the number of one-third of the total members of the elective body; and, notwithstanding opposition from the representatives of the Imperial Bureau and of the ministry of finances, this limitation was incorporated into the law of July 11, 1870. A point was gained, however, in that the Jews were now included in the generalbody of electors, and thus received power to influence the election of Christians.
The new regulations had hardly been in force for twenty years when by sudden decision the Imperial Council (July 11, 1892) decreed that the Jews should not take part in municipal elections, and that they should be excluded from municipal administrative positions and the management of separate departments of municipal finance and administration. In other words, the Jews were excluded altogether from the election of councilmen, of members of the administration, and of the city mayor, and were themselves no longer eligible for election to any of the public offices mentioned above. They were permitted to "assume the duties of councilmen" only under the following conditions: The town administrations were to prepare lists of Jews who, were they not Jews, might, according to the general regulations, be elected to the post of councilman, and from this list the commission on municipal affairs was to appoint at its discretion councilmen, whose number was to be determined by the minister of the interior, but was not to exceed one-tenth of the entire number of such officials. Under such conditions the Jewish councilmen ceased to be actual representatives of the Jewish population, and the latter remained without representation. Many instances might be cited to show the injurious effect of this condition of things upon the interests of the Jewish population.
At the beginning of the year 1904 the town council of Odessa resolved to urge the admission of Jews to municipal offices under the general regulations. The outcome of this resolution is still unknown (1905).
- J. Hessen, Stranitza iz Istorii Obschestvennavo Samoupravleniya Yevreyev v Rossii, in Voskhod, 1903, books i. and ii.; 1904, books vii. and viii.
Russo-Jewish journalism came into being on May 27, 1860, with the appearance in Odessa of the weekly entitled Razsvyet (see also Rabinovich, Osip Aaronovich). In the same year there began to appear in Wilna, as a supplement to "Ha-Karmel," articles in the Russian language; but these had no literary or social significance.The Anti-Semitic Press and "Sion."
From 1861 to 1862 the journal formerly known as "Razsvyet" appeared under the new title "Sion," being edited by E. Soloveichik and L. Pinsker, later the author of "Autoemancipation." Pinsker soon gave place to N. Bernstein. "Sion," as compared with the "Razsvyet," restricted its publicistic activity, and devoted more space to questions of Jewish learning and history. The editors hoped that by familiarizing Russian society with both the historical past and the contemporary life of the Jewish people, they could render its attitude toward the Jews more friendly. The journal was therefore more conservative than the "Razsvyet" had been; and it aimed to discuss the Jewish question in an academic spirit. This, however, proved impossible. The anti-Semitic press by its irritating accusations compelled "Sion" to reply sharply, for it was only through this hostile source that Russian society had learned to know of the Jewish question; but the censorship, which left the other papers unrestrained, interfered in the case of "Sion," and the latter found it necessary to terminate its activities. "Having met," announced the editors, "with peculiar difficulties in refuting unfounded accusations brought against the Jews and the Jewish religion by certain Russian journals, and also wishing to acquaint the public with the true spirit of the Jewish religion, the editors of 'Sion' consider it their duty to discontinue its publication until they shall have obtained permission to edit it with a broader program."
Apparently the reference to "a broader program" was made for the purpose of concealing another cause for discontinuing the publication; namely, the lack of a sufficient number of subscribers. It is believed by some that the limited circulation of the journal was due to the desire of the Jewish youth for a general education, they having become indifferent to the interests of Judaism. But the lack of subscribers may be explained also by the fact that a knowledge of Russian was restricted at that time to a limited portion of the Jewish population.The "Den" and Russification of the Jews.
After the discontinuance of "Sion," the Jewish community had for a period of seven years no publication of its own. In 1869 there appeared in Odessa a weekly entitled "Den," under the editorship of S. Orenstein, with M. G. Morgulis and I. G. Orshanski as collaborators. The new journal directed its attention mainly to the external relations of the economic and social life of the Russian Jews. Having found that their isolated position was due not to religious or national causes, but to those of a civil, social, and economic nature, "Den" pointed out those conditions under which it seemed likely that the interests of the Jewish inhabitants would become identical with those of the rest of the population, and the existing animosity of the Russians toward the Jews be thus overcome. These conditions, however, could only be created under circumstances legally favorable to Jewish life; in other words, by civil emancipation. This naturally called for certain concessions on the part of the Jews to the spirit of the times and to the general conditions of the life of the empire. "Den" advocated the Russification of the Jews, their education in the Russian spirit, etc.; but no attempts were made to undermine the foundations of Jewish life. It fought with equal courage against the anti-Semitic press and for Jewish rights; and this firmness led to its suppression. In 1871, when the anti-Jewish riots occurred in Odessa, its publication ceased.Journalistic Activity in St. Petersburg.
After the demise of "Den," St. Petersburg became the center of Russo-Jewish journalism. From 1871 to 1873, with long intermissions, a daily paper entitled "Wyestnik Russkikh Yevreyev" and edited by A. Zederbaum and A. Goldenblum was published in that city. It had no public significance. In the year 1879 there appeared simultaneously at St. Petersburg two weeklies, "Razsvyet" and "Russki Yevrei." "Razsvyet" was published from Aug., 1879, until Jan., 1883. The editors of"Wyestnik Russkikh Yevreyev" were the nominal editors of "Razsvyet" also; but those who were more directly responsible for the editorial work on the latter journal were M. S. Varshavski, N. M. Vilenkin, M. I. Kulisher, J. L. Rosenfeld, and others. With No. 15 of the year 1880 the editorship was transferred to the writer Bogrof and to J. Rosenfeld, the latter subsequently becoming sole editor. "Russki Yevrei" was published from Aug., 1879, until Dec., 1884, under the editorship of L. J. Bermann and G. M. Rabinovich.The "Russki Yevrei" and Assimilation.
The advocacy of assimilation with the Russians attained to considerable proportions in Russian Jewry in the seventh decade of the nineteenth century. It was believed that the Jewish question, if indeed there really was one, was in reality only a part of the general Russian problem; that the fortunes of the Jews would be modified only with a change in the fortunes of the Russian people; and that therefore it was necessary to work with the latter in endeavoring to realize the common Russian aims. It was at the same time considered advisable that the Jews should throw aside everything specifically Jewish. This attitude caused indifference on the part of educated Jews to the oppressive legal and economic conditions of the Jewish population. The two journals arose in opposition to this abnormal state of things. Both of them were representatives of modern assimilation. The "Russki Yevrei" undertook to facilitate a more intimate acquaintance between the Jewish and the Russian people—the same aim that had inspired the "Razsvyet" of 1860 and "Sion," with the difference that the "Russki Yevrei" emphasized the fact that the Russian Jews, though not Russians, were Russian subjects of Jewish faith. The journal proved the injustice of the accusations brought against the Jews. While devoting a certain amount of space to questions of Jewish internal life, it did not denounce Jewish shortcomings lest, by such self-criticism, it should supply the enemies of the Jews with material for further persecutions.The Second "Razsvyet."
The "Razsvyet" assumed a different attitude. As the advocate of "Russo-Jewish needs and wants, "it dwelt more on the phenomena of Jewish every-day life. It courageously directed attention to its failings, and, anticipating no outside help, urged the educated Jews to assume the work of self-improvement. At the same time it pointed out that this work for the Jewish population would prove useful to the world at large also. Apparently it was not practicable at that time, owing to internal conditions, to urge specifically Jewish work, or perhaps the cooperation of the educated Jews could not be counted upon. The pogromy which swept through Russia in 1881 gave birth to the idea of nationalism; and the "Razsvyet" was soon transformed into an advocate of Zionism. It terminated its existence a year or two later.
For the space of one year (1881-82) there was published in Riga the monthly "Yevreiskiya Zapiski," under the editorship of A. Pumpyanski. It was of a historico-literary character. In 1884 there appeared in St. Petersburg seven numbers of the monthly "Yevreiskoye Obozryeniye," edited by L. O. Cantor.
A more kindly fate awaited the journal "Voskhod." It was founded in 1881 by A. E. Landau, who from 1871 to 1880 had published eight volumes under the general title "Yevreiskaya Biblioteka." Only monthly volumes were published in 1881, but from 1882 there appeared also the weekly "Nedyelnaya Khronika Voskhoda." Volume ix. of the "Yevreiskaya Biblioteka" appeared in 1901, and vol. x. (published by G. A. Landau, the son of Adolph Landau) in 1903.Aims of the "Voskhod."
"Voskhod" was founded at the most unsettled period of Jewish as well as of Russian life. It has fought with unvarying courage for civil rights for the Jews, and has at the same time fearlessly exposed Jewish national defects as well as the failings of certain social groups. It has received many hard blows, both from Jews and from non-Jews, but it has survived to carry out its original program. At the time when Jewish society was seized with fear and despair, after the pogromy in the early eighties, the "Voskhod" opposed the counsels of the "Razsvyet" and of individuals advocating emigration, declaring itself against such a solution of the Jewish question. At that time the Jews themselves argued that the worse the condition of the Jews in Russia, the better for the idea of the regeneration of the nation on its own soil. The "Voskhod," however, declared that: "Its aim is to defend the interests of the Russian Jews, and to strive to make the life of Jews in Russia possible and bearable. With this purpose it will defend and guard their rights, and attempt, in so far as lies in its power, to effect an extension of these rights. On the other hand, it will cooperate by all possible means in the improvement of the inner life of the Jews themselves and in the attainment of their social regeneration on Russian soil." The "Voskhod" continued to adhere to this policy. It defended the rights of the Jews so vigorously and with such persistence that it soon attracted the attention of the government. On June 24, 1884, it received its first warning for "permitting itself very frequently to criticize insolently the existing laws and government measures and to interpret falsely their meaning and aims." It received a second warning on July 3, 1885, for continuing to criticize the laws adversely, "spreading among the Jews the belief that the government and all classes of the Russian people maintain toward them an attitude of merciless and unreasoning harshness." Finally, in 1891 the journal was suspended for eight months.
As the only periodical in the field for about fifteen years, the "Voskhod" was read by all the Jewish social groups, and the number of its subscribers increased from 2,692 in 1883 to 4,294 in 1898. In 1899, while Landau was still living, the journal was transferred to other hands.Its Publicistic Activity.
The significance of the "Voskhod" is not confined to its publicistic activity. During Landau's editorship there appeared in its pages a whole seriesof writings on Jewish life from the social, literary, and historical standpoints. Belletristic wriings by Levanda, Ben-Ami, Yaroshevski, and others; historical works by S. M. Dubnow and the Christian jurist S. A. Bershadski; juridical and publicistic papers by M. Morgulis, M. Kulisher, and M. Mysh; archeological and philological contributions by A. J. Harkavy; poems by S. Frug; and translations into Russian of the leading works in foreign languages—all these, representing material of the greatest value, were published in the "Voskhod."Its Impartial Attitude Toward Zionism.
Under the new management, with G. Syrkin as editor, the journal has adhered to its original program while adapting itself to the requirements of the times. Devoting to the Zionist cause only so much attention as is demanded by its impartial attitude toward this movement, the "Voskhod" is nevertheless read by the most enthusiastic adherents of Zionism. As formerly, the journal is courageously outspoken in defense of the rights of the Jews. It sounded a mighty note of protest against the Kishinef pogrom of 1903, and was punished therefor by the government. Nos. 16 and 17 of the "Khronika" (one of which contained an article by J. Brutzkus urging the Jews to armed defense) were confiscated. The publishers received two other warnings, on April 28 and May 15, 1903, respectively. In 1904 the "Khronika" was suspended for six months for a sharp criticism of the activity of the anti-Semitic journal "Znamya" and of its friends in Russian society. Besides Syrkin there are closely connected with the "Voskhod" L. Zev, M. Trivus, and M. Vinaver. Notwithstanding its high subscription price, 10 rubles, it has not less than 5,000 subscribers. For the last two years it has offered as a supplement the "History of the Jews," by S. M. Dubnow. Recently the weekly numbers of the journal have been named "Voskhod," and the monthly volumes "Knizhki Voskhoda."The "Buduschnost" a Zionist Organ.
At the end of 1899 there appeared in St. Petersburg the weekly (with a volume of collected articles as annual supplement) entitled "Buduschnost," under the editorship of S. O. Gruzenberg, who was for many years a contributor to the "Voskhod." The journal was soon transformed into a Zionist organ, and this caused it to lose public support. It is, moreover, indifferently supported by the Zionists. At first the contributors were well-known writers, but one after another these withdrew, and its editor, though an old experienced, and capable journalist, was unable to maintain the paper at its original high level.
In 1903 there appeared in St. Petersburg the "Yevreiskaya Semeinaya Biblioteka," a monthly journal under the editorship of M. Ryvkin. In the following year the title was changed to "Yevreiskaya Zhizn," and the editorship was undertaken by G. Sorin, with the collaboration of M. M. Margolin and J. D. Brutzkus. The journal, which is devoted to Zionism, at once gained popularity, securing in the first year of its existence about 7,000 subscribers—a circumstance explained to a certain extent by the support of a Zionist organization and by the low subscription price, 4 rubles. As a supplement the journal offers a collection of Frug's poems.
- L. Levanda, K Istorii Voznikoveniya Pervavo Organa Russkikh Yevreyev, in Voskhod, 1881, vol. vi.;
- S. M. Dubnow, O Smyenye Napravleni, v Russko-Yevreiskoi Zhurnalistikye, in Buduschnost, 1899.
Wishing to create important commercial centers, Catherine II. ordered, in 1782, that merchants and commoners no longer reside in rural communities to the detriment of the peasants, but remove to the towns. This measure was directed at the commercial classes, which included the Jews; and as they were without exception registered among the merchants and tradespeople, the regulation, which was only a partial limitation for the Christians, became for the Jews a general legal limitation, and was especially burdensome because the great mass of them resided in rural communities. Closely allied with the concentration movement was the question of the distilling and sale of spirits. As merchants and tradespeople the Jews of White Russia were at that time forbidden by the local authorities to distil spirits, to lease estates, or to manage rural industries, that is, to continue in those occupations by which the Jews, owing to peculiar historical conditions, had earned their livelihood for a period of years. This regulation was generally considered a restrictive measure directed against the Jews, as before its enactment they had received the same privileges as the merchants and trading classes. But in 1786 the Senate repealed the regulations regarding leases and the distilling of spirits; and in so far as the question of residence in rural districts was concerned, the Senate, knowing that the empress, for important reasons of economic policy, desired the removal of the Jews to the towns, and knowing also that the conditions prevailing in the towns did not warrant peremptory removal, contented itself by ruling that the Jews should not remove prematurely, because it was uncertain whether they would find work or dwellings in the towns. Nevertheless many Jews were removed and thereby ruined.Removal of Jews.
Before long this question was revived. In 1795, when Russian administration was being introduced in the new governments annexed from Poland, viz., those of Minsk, Volhynia, and Podolia, the empress ordered that "efforts be made" to remove the Jews to the towns so that they might engage there in commerce and in handicrafts. She did not intend to make the measure compulsory in character, yet the governor-general of White Russia, who had received a similar order concerning the Jews, set one year as the time-limit for their removal. But at the time the sparsely populated cities were not adapted to accommodate so great an influx of new inhabitants. Even then the towns contained many Jews, who furnished a greater number of merchants and artisans than was necessary. The order for the removal of the Jews created apprehension also among the estate-owners, to whom it meant pecuniary loss, and for these reasons the governor-general orderedthat only Jews living in inns and villages situated on main roads be forced to obey it. An extension of time was also granted; but not withstanding the fact that the removals were not carried out on as large a scale as was desired, such removals as did take place materially affected the prosperity of the Jews, and much suffering and inconvenience was caused thereby.
The question of the harm said to be caused by Jews dwelling in rural districts, and the best means of dealing with the subject, were matters referred for consideration, by order of the Senate, to the local authorities and to owners of estates situated in governments which had a Jewish population. Neither the authorities nor the owners found it desirable to remove all the Jews, who, moreover, they suggested should be distributed over a larger area. These suggestions were transmitted to the Senate, which was at that time engaged in working out a general plan for Jewish reform.
In 1801 a new regulation was passed ordering merchants and tradesmen to remove to the cities. The Jews of White Russia petitioned the Senate to be allowed to remain in their old homes, and the Senate granted their request. But in other governments no attempt was made to remove the Jews, and the administration of the government of New Russia went before the Senate to urge the nonremoval of Jews from the rural districts, as the administration declared they caused no harm or damage to the peasants.Committee of 1802.
In 1802 the project of Jewish reform was submitted to a committee composed of persons near to the emperor, and, according to the regulations worked out by it (1804), the Jews were to be deprived of the right of distilling spirits, of leasing estates, and of residing in villages and hamlets. A time-limit of three years was set for their removal. This committee expressed itself as opposed to resorting to stringent measures in dealing with the Jews, and explained that only dire necessity induced it to forbid them to distil, to sell spirits, and to lease estates.
In connection with this prohibition the committee ordered the removal of all the Jews from the rural districts, as under the proposed conditions the greater part of the Jewish population would be without means of subsistence. The exclusion of the Jews from the distilling industry and from lease-holding was declared incompatible with justice and with the requirements of life: the government budget was based largely on the income from the tax on spirits; and the estate-owners also derived their incomes almost exclusively from the proceeds of distillation. This condition of affairs was permitted to continue in the former Polish governments for many decades, and had led to the Jews, in virtue of peculiar circumstances, serving during all that time as intermediaries between the estate-owners and the peasants; the Jews caused economic injury not as Jews but as intermediaries, and that without benefit to themselves.
Count Gudovich, governor-general of Minsk, Podolia, and Volhynia, stated that the tavern-keepers had no daily bread for themselves nor for their families, "for they receive only a tenth or even a fifteenth part of the profits." The governor of Lithuania stated that the taverns were in charge only of women, as lack of means drove the men to other work. Senator Derzhavin wrote that the Jewish masses in White Russia were suffering from extreme privation and poverty. The governor of Kiev reported that the Jews not only were unable to pay taxes but had no means of subsistence, which showed very clearly that the Jews secured no profit for themselves either from the distilling of spirits or from the ownership of leases. Senator Derzhavin, in a private letter written in 1800 to one of the legal officers of the crown, dealt with the famine in White Russia, which he officially ascribed to the Jews; but he said also: "It is difficult to seriously accuse any one without actually violating the common principles of justice and fairness. The peasants sell their grain to the Jews for spirits, and therefore they do not have enough bread. The landlords do not prohibit drinking because they derive their entire incomes from the sale of liquor; and the Jews can not be held entirely to blame if they take the last crust from the peasants for their own sustenance."Its Conclusions.
From the evidence collected the committee reached these conclusions: (1) The landlords made an excessive quantity of distilled spirits in order to pay the heavy taxes with which they were burdened, and to provide for their living expenses. (2) The Jews trafficked in spirits in order to be able to pay the double taxes imposed upon them, and to keep from starvation. Owing to the existing economic conditions the Jews could not have found other means of subsistence at that time. (3) The peasants in their turn drank in order to forget the burdens of their serfdom.
The committee, being powerless to improve the social and economic life of the peasants, decided to pretend that the removal of the Jews to the towns would result in such an improvement. Undoubtedly it realized the impossibility of carrying into effect the measure proposed, for it involved the removal of more than fifty thousand Jewish families. Nevertheless steps were taken to enforce the removal, and they were attended by extreme barbarity. Count Kotchubei, a member of the committee placed in charge of the movement, learned what misery was thereby caused in some villages. Hundreds of families were left without shelter in the fields or on the squares of near-by cities, as there were not sufficient houses to accommodate them, and nothing was provided with which to feed them. The government was unable to supply the necessary means or to grant the tracts of land promised for the purpose of transforming the former merchants into agriculturists.Removal Postponed.
The suffering was intense, and, to maintain the prestige of the government, orders were given to suspend the removals, ostensibly because Napoleon had summoned a Jewish synod in Paris—a circumstance that, had not the order been suspended, might have caused restlessness among the Jewish masses. A new committee was organized for reviewing the question, and Count Kotchubei insisted on delay, pointing out that only a part of the Jews could be removed, and that enormous sums would be requiredby the government to carry the measure into effect; for the poor Jews, under the existing economic conditions, could not readily find other means of sustenance. The subject was referred to a new commission composed of higher officials, and later Senator Alexieff was ordered by the emperor to make a journey through localities having a Jewish population, for the purpose of seeing whether immediate removal was feasible. He was instructed that if it was feasible he should order the governors to effect it. If, however, he found it impracticable, he was to report to the emperor the best means for removing the Jews gradually. At this time permission was given to the Jews to select delegates to present to the senator their views on the question of removal. The Jewish delegates petitioned for the repeal of the enactment, and the senator declared the removal impracticable; but this did not lead to a solution of the matter, for the government desired to maintain its prestige and did not care to consider the repeal of this law, and set itself to temporizing by postponing its enforcement. On Oct. 19, 1807, a ukase was issued ordering gradual removal during a term of three years. In consequence of this decree the expulsion of Jews from the villages was resumed, and the suffering inflicted thereby attracted the attention of the new minister of the interior, Count Kurakin. He reported to the emperor that the removal could only be effected in the course of several decades. Therefore, by decree of Dec. 29, 1809, the ukase was repealed, and a few days later a new commission for the investigation of the subject was appointed under the chairmanship of Senator Popov. This commission continued its labors for three years. It made a general and thorough investigation, and declared in its voluminous report that the exclusion of the Jews from the manufacture of and traffic in spirits would not decrease drunkenness among the peasants, as the general social and economic conditions, and not the Jews, were accountable therefor.Removal of 1821.
The removal of the Jews from the rural districts would work injury to the peasantry from both the economic and the commercial standpoint; their immediate transformation into farmers was an impossibility; the overcrowding of the towns with an excess of poor would lead only to very distressing consequences. Hence, the commission recommended that the Jews be allowed to remain in their old homes, and that they be permitted to continue their vocations as theretofore. This report was not given the force of a legal enactment, but as removals had already been discontinued by order, the Jews were permitted to enjoy a period of peace. This peace, however, was not of long duration, for in 1821, in consequence of representations from the military governor of Chernigov, which branded the Jews as speculators, an order was issued calling for their removal from the rural districts of that government. This measure was extended to the government of Poltava in 1822, and in the following year to the governments of White Russia because of a deficiency in foodstuffs there. In 1827 a partial removal of the Jews was begun in the rural districts of the government of Grodno, and in 1830 a similar one was enforced in the government of Kiev.
In 1835 a decree was issued ordering the suspension of the removals; but they were undertaken again in 1843, when the Jews were excluded from the military settlements of Kiev and Podolia.
All the removals in question were presumably inspired by the supposed evil influence of the Jews in increasing drunkenness among the peasants. But there were also other reasons for the expulsion. For instance, in 1835 the Jews were excluded from the government of Astrakhan on the pretext that they caused harm to the trade with Asia. The Jews in the boundary-zone were expelled therefrom in order to suppress contraband trade. Thus in 1812 the Jews living on the landed estates situated near the frontier of the government of Volhynia were removed, and in 1816 a decree was issued calling for the removal of the Jews from the 50-verst boundary-zone. Under the decree the places where the Jews were registered according to the census and where there were organized ḳahals were exempt. This led to removals from the government of Volhynia up to the year 1821. Subsequently the Jews returned to their old homes. However, in 1825 another decree concerning the western frontier governments announced that only those Jews who owned real property should be allowed to remain within the 50-verst zone. In 1839 this decree was extended to the territory of Bessarabia. On April 20, 1843, an imperial decree ordered that all the Jews living in the 50-verst boundary-zone adjacent to Prussia and Austria should be removed to the interior of the governments, the owners of houses being permitted to sell them within two years provided they obeyed the law without reservation. Later an extension of time was granted, and the removal was not carried out in its entirety; nevertheless the policy of removal was farreaching and was continued for a term of years.Removal from Towns.
In addition to removal from villages and hamlets there was also the removal from towns, but this was conducted on a much smaller scale. In this the Christians of Kovno took the initiative. They petitioned Emperor Paul I. in 1797 for the removal of the Jews from their city on the ground of ancient Polish privileges. The governor-general of Lithuania, Count Ryepnin, declared, however, that the Christians "did not themselves know for what they were asking, and merely obeyed their ancient antipathy and unwarranted envy of the Jews," and that the removal of the Jews would cause harm to the city; therefore this petition was not granted. Paul I. ordered that the Jews be left also in Kaminetz-Podolsk, whence it had been intended that they should be removed. Similarly, in 1801 he rejected the petition of the merchants of Kiev for the exclusion of the Jews. Under Alexander I. petitions of this kind were renewed, but unsuccessfully. In 1803 the petition of the Christians of Kovno and in 1810 a similar one from the Christians of Kiev were rejected. In all these petitions the Christians were impelled by the desire of ridding themselves of their competitors in commerce and manufacture. In more recent times the agitation for the exclusion of Jews from the townswas resumed. In 1827 the Christians of Kiev had their wish granted and the Jews were expelled, notwithstanding the fact that the local authorities earnestly desired their retention. In 1829 expulsion from Nikolaief and Sebastopol was ordered, and only those Jews who had served in the army or navy were authorized to remain. However, in 1830 the military governor of Nikolaief and Sebastopol, in agreement with the sentiments of the city police administration, the magistrates, and the city council, applied to the ministry of the interior for the retention of the Jews, and pointed out that if they were removed the city would be without artisans. This application not being granted, in 1832 the governor applied for at least a postponement of the expulsion. This was granted, at first for two years, and later for another year; but ultimately the Jews were expelled. In this instance the government was apparently influenced by the military importance of the cities. In 1883 the Jews were expelled from Yalta (there only remained those who were registered in the local community), which was then excluded from the Pale of Settlement, probably because the imperial family sojourned there during the summer months. In accordance with the laws of 1891 and 1892 there were expelled from Moscow, within a short time, all Jewish artisans, brewers, distillers, and even soldiers who had served under Nicholas I. for twenty-five years and who had enjoyed certain privileges. Altogether there were expelled from Moscow about 20,000 Jews.
Aside from these expulsions en masse, the removal of separate groups of Jews and of individuals was continued until very recently. The complicated enactments concerning the Pale of Settlement, in connection with the general disabilities of the Jews, offer a wide field for unwarranted interpretation of the written laws; added to this there are at times ignorance of the laws and, not infrequently, intentional disregard of them on the part of those in subordinate authority. Finally, the change in family relations, the change of occupation, and other circumstances often led to the expulsion of Jews.
On April 3, 1880 (under Alexander II.), the minister of the interior suggested to the governors that they should not expel the Jews who did not enjoy right of residence in any given locality, but who were already established there and engaged in commercial undertakings, the destruction of which would ruin not only the Jews but also the Christians who had entered into business relations with them. In connection with this it was ordered that no Jews should be permitted to establish themselves in new localities without having first secured permission to do so. A document containing these orders was again sent out in 1882. On Jan. 14, 1893, the order was rescinded, and the governors were commanded to enforce, not later than Nov. 1, 1893, the expulsion of the Jews directed by the law. Later the time was extended to June 1, 1894 (persons who had attained the age of seventy or more were exempted entirely). For the reasons indicated above, the expulsion of the Jews from various localities was thereafter intermittently persisted in.
After the outbreak of the war with Japan orders were issued by circular to discontinue the expulsions temporarily. In Kiev the local authorities attempted to expel the mother and the wife of a Jewish physician who had been sent to the scene of war, because according to the strict interpretation of the law the mother and wife could live in Kiev only with the male head of the family.
- M. Mysh, Borba Pravitelstva s Piteinym Promyslom Yevreyev v Selakh i Derevnyakh, in Voskhod, 1881, vols. viii. and ix.;
- J. I. Hessen, K Istorii Vyseleniya Yevreyev iz sel i Dereven, in Voskhod, 1903, vols. iv. and v.;
- idem, Izpolskikh Otgoloskov, in Voskhod, 1904, Nos. 14 and 15.
Former powerful kingdom in north central Europe, comprising, until its first partition, in 1772, a territory bounded by the Oder and the Warta on the west, by the Carpathian Mountains and the Dniester on the south, by the Dnieper on the east, and by the Düna on the north.
From the historical documents thus far available it is difficult to determine with certainty when the first Jewish settlers arrived in Poland. Some Polish writers, like Naruszewicz, are of the opinion that Jews went to Poland in very early times, and that they lived there before the introduction of Christianity (965) under Mieczyslaw I. Others, like Janicki, claim that authentic evidence as to the presence of Jews in Poland does not go further back than the twelfth century, when, under Prince Mieczyslaw III. (1173-1209) and kings Casimir the Just and Leshek the White (1194-1205), the Jews had charge of the mints.Jewish Charter of 905.
The Polish historian Maciejowski advances the view ("Zydzi w Polsce," etc., p. 8) that "Jews were present in Poland if not in the eighth century at least in the ninth"; but on the other hand he ridicules the statement of Leon Weil ("Orient," 1849, p. 143), who, on the strength of certain documents, relates the following: "Hard pressed by the Germans, the Jews sent to Poland (894) a delegation composed of the most cloquent Spanish rabbis, in order to petition the reigning prince, Leshek, for the apportionment to them of a parcel of land in Polish territory on which they might establish themselves and engage in agricultural pursuits and in handicrafts and the liberal arts. No special territory was assigned to them; but they were given permission to settle anywhere in the land, and to engage in the occupations specified. Eleven years later (905) the Jews were by charter assured religious liberty, autonomy in judicial matters, freedom of trade, independence from the Shlyakhta, or lesser nobles, and protection from the attacks of hostile mobs. This charter was lost in the Polish-German war of 1049."
Coins unearthed in 1872 in the Great-Polish village of Glenbok show conclusively that in the reigns of Mieczyslaw III., Casimir, and Leshek the Jews were, as stated above, in charge of the coinage in Great and Little Poland. These coins bear emblems havinginscriptions of various characters; in some examples only the name of the king or prince being given, as, for instance, "Prince Meshko," while in others the surname is added, as "Meshek the Blessed" or "the Just." Some of the coins, moreover, bear inscriptions having no direct reference to Poland, to the reigning princes, or even to the coin itself, but referring to incidents of a purely Jewish character, as, for instance, "Rejoice, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob"; "Abraham Duchs (
"The Jewish coiners," says Bershadski, "might have been people who came to the country only occasionally, and for that special purpose." But there is found among the few documents dating from the second half of the thirteenth century a charter issued by Premyslaw II., successor of Boleslaw of Kalisz, confirming a previous grant of privileges whereby the Jew Rupin, son of Yoshka, is permitted to dispose of his inheritance, a hill ("montem") situated near the boundary of his estate of Podgozhe. It is difficult to assume that the acquisition of real estate, its transmission by inheritance, and its further cession to the "Jewish elders of Kalisz and their entire community" were permitted on the strength of the charter of privileges granted by Boleslaw of Kalisz to Jewish immigrants, for the charter makes no mention of a Jewish community, nor of the right of Jews to acquire landed property. "The facts," says Bershadski, "made plain by the grant of Premyslaw II. prove that the Jews were ancient inhabitants of Poland, and that the charter of Boleslaw of Kalisz, copied almost verbally from the privileges of Ottocar of Bohemia, was merely a written approval of relations that had become gradually established, and had received the sanction of the people of the country."
Bershadski comes to the conclusion that as early as the thirteenth century there existed in Poland a number of Jewish communities, the most important of which was that of Kalisz. Maximilian Gumplovicz, however, hazards the conjecture that the word "Pech" on the Glenbok coins is the Chazarian "Pech" or "Beck," meaning "viceroy of the Chaghan" (see
It is not definitely known whether the first Jewish arrivals in Poland were from the Chazarian countries in South Russia or from western Europe. Thefirst historian of the Jews of Poland, Czacki, states in his "Rozprawa o Zydach i Karaitach" (1807) that the earliest Jewish immigrants in Poland were of German origin; but, as has been pointed out by Bershadski and Dubnow, Czacki's work, however conscientious and clear-sighted, can be regarded only as a historical document, and not as a complete history of the Polish Jews. Unfortunately, Czacki was followed blindly by Sternberg, Weil, and Graetz.
Though direct proof is absent, it is nevertheless safe to assume from the documents at present available that South Russia furnished the first Jewish settlers in Poland (see
The first actual mention, however, of Jews in the Polish chronicles occurs under date of the eleventh century. It appears that Jews were then living in Gnesen, at that time the religious capital of the Polish kingdom. Some of them were wealthy, owning Christian slaves; they even engaged in the slave-trade, according to the custom of the times. The pious Queen Judith, wife of the Polish king Ladislaus Herman (d. 1085), spent large sums of money in purchasing the freedom of Christian slaves owned by Jews.
The first extensive Jewish emigration from western Europe to Poland occurred at the time of the First Crusade (1098). Under Boleslaw III., Krzywousty (1102-39), the Jews, encouraged by the tolerant régime of this wise ruler, settled throughout Polish and Lithuanian territory as far as Kiev. Boleslaw on his part recognized the utility of the Jews it the development of the commercial interests of his country. The Jewish traveler Pethahiah ben Jacob ha-Laban visited Poland toward the end of the twelfth century. At that time their position in the numerous principalities had been securely established. The Prince of Cracow, Mieczyslaw III. (1173-1202), in his endeavor to establish law and order in his domains, prohibited all violence against the Jews, particularly attacks upon them by unruly students. Boys guilty of such attacks, or their parents, were made to pay fines as heavy as those imposed for sacrilegious acts. Early in the thirteenth century Jews owned land in Polish Silesia.
The commercial relations between the Jewish settlements in Poland and those in western Europe were not without effect in intellectual and religious matters. The Polish Jews, devoting their energies to commercial pursuits, were obliged, according to the testimony of Eliezer of Bohemia, to obtain their rabbis from France, Germany, and other west-European countries, while the young Polish Jews went abroad for the study of rabbinical and other literature. Among the rabbinical scholars of the twelfth century mention is made of Mordecai of Poland (Dubnow).
From the various sources it is evident that at this time the Jews enjoyed undisturbed peace and prosperity in the many principalities into which the country was then divided. In the interests of commerce the reigning princes extended protection and special privileges to the Jewish settlers. With the descent of the Tatars on Polish territory (1241) the Jews in common with the other inhabitants suffered severely. Cracow was pillaged and burned, other towns were devastated, and hundreds of Jews were carried into captivity. As the tide of invasionreceded the Jews returned to their old homes and occupations. They formed the middle class in a country where the general population consisted of landlords and peasants, and they were instrumental in promoting the commercial interests of the land. Money-lending and the farming of the different government revenues, such as those from the salt-mines, the customs, etc., were their most important pursuits. The native population had not yet become permeated with the religious intolerance of western Europe, and lived at peace with the Jews.
This patriarchal order of things was gradually altered by the Roman Church on the one hand, and by the neighboring German states on the other. The emissaries of the Roman pontiffs came to Poland in pursuance of a fixed policy; and in their endeavors to strengthen the influence of the Catholic Church they spread teachings imbued with hatred toward the followers of Judaism. At the same time Boleslaw V., Wstydliwy (1228-79), encouraged the influx of German colonists. He granted to them the Magdeburg Rights (See Magdeburg Law), and by establishing them in the towns introduced there an element which brought with it deep-seated prejudices against the Jews. There were, however, among the reigning princes determined protectors of the Jewish inhabitants, who considered the presence of the latter most desirable in so far as the economic development of the country was concerned. Prominent among such rulers was Boleslaw Pobozny of Kalisz, King of Great Poland. With the consent of the class representatives and higher officials he issued in 1264 a charter which clearly defined the position of his Jewish subjects. This charter, which subsequently formed the basis of Polish legislation concerning the Jews, does not differ greatly from that granted by Witold (1388) to the Jews of Lithuania (for text of the latter charter see
In a critical review of L. Gumploviez's work on Polish-Jewish legislation, Levanda (in "Voskhod," 1886, No. ix.) comes to the conclusion that Boleslaw's charter was meant to define unequivocally the exact position that the Jews were to occupy in the body politic throughout Poland's history. The terms of the charter, marked by patriarchal simplicity, show clearly that the Jews were regarded as an association of money-lenders to whom a concession was made to trade and to lend money on interest, with the guaranty of religious freedom and of the inviolability of person and property. They were to circulate their capital and thus supply the needs of the Christian population, and were to be allowed to enjoy profits made through their business operations. No mention occurs in the charter of other business pursuits, handicrafts, or industries, from which it may be inferred that the Jews were to engage in no other occupation than money-lending. The term "privilegium" applied to the charter shows that the latter was not a part of the general laws, but an exception to their provisions. It opened a wide gap between the Christian and the Jewish population that was never closed. It placed the latter in a position of isolation, owing to which they were compelled to develop an internal organization of their own. This, however, served them in good stead with regard to the defense of their commercial interests and in the mastery of new forms of commercial activity.
The charter dealt in detail with all sides of Jewish life, particularly the relations of the Jews to their Christian neighbors. The guiding principle in all its provisions was justice, while national, racial, and religious motives were entirely excluded. In order to safeguard their persons and property, the Jews were in some instances granted even greater privileges than the Christians, who thus came to recognize that the Jews were to be regarded as a people with a civilization of their own and entitled to the protection of the laws.Hostility of the Church.
But while the temporal authorities endeavored to regulate the relations of the Jews to the country at large in accordance with its economic needs, the clergy, inspired not by patriotism, but by the attempts of the Roman Church to establish its universal supremacy, used its influence toward separating the Jews from the body politic, aiming to exclude them, as people dangerous to the Church, from Christian society, and to place them in the position of a despised sect. In 1266 an ecumenical council was held at Breslau under the chairmanship of the papal nuncio Guido. The council introduced into the ecclesiastical statutes of Poland a number of paragraphs directed against the Jews. In paragraph 12 it is stated that "since Poland has but lately joined the fold of the Christian Church it may be apprehended that its Christian inhabitants will the more easily yield to the prejudices and evil habits of their Jewish neighbors, the establishment of the Christian faith in the hearts of the believers in these lands having been of such a recent date. We therefore emphatically decree that Jews living in the bishopric of Gnesen shall not dwell together with Christians, but shall live separately in some portion of their respective towns or villages. The quarter in which the Jews reside shall be divided from the section inhabited by the Christians by a fence, wall, or ditch."The Badge Instituted.
The Jews were ordered to dispose as quickly as possible of real estate owned by them in the Christian quarters; they were not to appear on the streets during Church processions; they were allowed to have only a single synagogue in any one town; and they were required to wear a special cap to distinguish them from the Christians. The latter were forbidden, under penalty of excommunication, to invite Jews to feasts or other entertainments, and were forbidden also to buy meat or other provisions from Jews, for fear of being poisoned. The council furthermore confirmed the regulations under which Jews were not allowed to keep Christian servants, to lease taxes or customs duties, or to hold any public office. At the Council of Ofen held in 1279 the wearing of a red badge was prescribed for the Jews, and the foregoing provisions were reaffirmed.
Though the Catholic clergy continued in this way to sow the seed of religious hatred—which in time bore a plentiful harvest—the temporal rulers were not inclined to accept the edicts of the Church, andthe Jews of Poland were for a long time left in the enjoyment of their rights. Ladislaus Lokietek, who ascended the Polish throne in 1319, endeavored to establish a uniform legal code throughout the land. By the general laws he assured to the Jews safety and freedom and placed them on an equality with the Christians. They dressed like the Christians, wearing garments similar to those of the nobility, and, like the latter, wore also gold chains and carried swords. Ladislaus likewise framed laws for the lending of money to Christians. In 1334 Boleslaw issued a charter of still greater significance. It was much amplified by King Casimir III., the Great (1303-70), who was especially friendly to the Jews, and whose reign is justly regarded as an era of great prosperity for the Polish Jewry. His charter was more favorable to the Jews than was Boleslaw's, in so far as it safeguarded some of their civil rights in addition to their commercial privileges. This farseeing ruler sought to employ the town and rural populations as checks upon the growing power of the aristocracy. He regarded the Jews not simply as an association of money-lenders, but as a part of the nation, into which they were to be incorporated for the formation of a homogeneous body politic. For his attempts to uplift the masses, including the Jews, Casimir was surnamed by his contemporaries "king of the serfs and Jews." His charter for the Jews provided among other things that any lawsuit in which Jews were concerned might at their request be brought before the king; that they might not be summoned before the ecclesiastical tribunals; that elders or waywodes had no right to exact special taxes or contributions from them; that the murder of a Jew was to be punishable by death, whereas in Boleslaw's charter the penalty had consisted merely of a fine and confiscation of property. Apart from these amplifications of Boleslaw's charter, Casimir granted to the Jews the right of unrestricted residence and movement; and they were not obliged to pay taxes other than those paid by the Christians. They were permitted to lend money on farms and other real property, and to rent or acquire lands and estates (L. Gumplovicz, "Prawodawstwo," etc., p. 23).Prosperity Under Casimir III.
Most of the documents of the fourteenth century treat of the Jews of Little Poland and especially of those of Cracow. Notwithstanding its paucity the material is ample to show the gradual growth of the Jews in numbers and in wealth. Thus in 1304 mention is made of the cession by Philip Pollack to Genez Magdassen of one-half of the former's property on the Jewish street in Cracow; in 1313 the Jew Michael and his son Nathan purchased an estate in the Jewish quarter from the widow of the burgher Günther; in 1335 the Jew Kozlina acquired from the burgher Herman four houses near the Jewish cemetery; in 1339 the widow of the Jew Rubin sold her house to the burgher Johann Romanich; and in 1347 there occurs a reference to a Jewish quarter in the suburb of Cracow ("vicus Judæorum"), with a synagogue and a cemetery on the banks of the Rudava. The cemetery had existed from the beginning of the century. Prominent among the Jews of Cracow in the latter half of this century was the leaseholder Levko, who was under the direct jurisdiction of the king. Levko leased the salt monopoly, and had exclusive jurisdiction over the numerous laborers in the salt-mines. He was regarded as the money-king of his time; and his sons, who inherited his wealth, frequently lent large sums to Queen Yadwiga and also to Ladislaus Jagellon (See Casimir III).
Nevertheless, while for the greater part of Casimir's reign the Jews of Poland, as has been seen, enjoyed tranquillity, toward its close they were subjected to persecution on account of the Black Death. Massacres occurred at Kalisz, Cracow, Glogau, and other Polish cities along the German frontier, and it is estimated that 10,000 Jews were killed. Compared with the pitiless destruction of their coreligionists in western Europe, however, the Polish Jews did not fare badly; and the Jewish masses of Germany fled to the more hospitable lands of Poland, where the interests of the laity still remained more powerful than those of the Church.
But under Casimir's successor, Louis of Hungary (1370-84), the complaint became general that justice had disappeared from the land. An attempt was made to deprive the Jews of the protection of the laws. Guided mainly by religious motives, Louis persecuted them, and threatened to expel those who refused to accept Christianity. His short reign did not suffice, however, to undo the beneficent work of his predecessor; and it was not until the long reign of the Lithuanian grand duke Ladislaus II., Jagellon (1386-1434), that the influence of the Church in civil and national affairs increased, and the civic condition of the Jews gradually became less favorable. Nevertheless, at the beginning of Ladislaus' reign the Jews still enjoyed the full protection of the laws. Hube cites a series of old documents from Posen, from which it appears that in monetary transactions the Jews of Great and Little Poland were protected by the courts to such an extent that in cases of non-payment they might take possession of the real estate of their Christian debtors. Thus in 1388 a verdict was rendered in favor of the Jew Sabdai, whereby his debtor was placed under arrest and was made to pay the principal together with nine years' interest upon it. In 1398 another debtor pledged himself to transfer to his Jewish creditors half of a village with all its revenues, excluding the manor and the land belonging to it. In 1390 the Jew Daniel was placed in possession of the estate of Kopashevo for a debt of 40 marks; and in the same year a debt of 20 marks due to the above-mentioned Sabdai from the owner of a certain estate was given preference over all other obligations of the latter, and Sabdai was put in possession of the estate.Extensive Persecutions in the Fourteenth Century.
As a result of the marriage of Jagellon to Yadwiga, daughter of Louis of Hungary, Lithuania was temporarily united to the kingdom of Poland. Under his rule the first extensive persecutions of the Jews in Poland were inaugurated. It was said that the Jews of Posen had induced a poor Christian woman to steal from the Dominican church three hosts, which they desecrated, and that when the hosts began to bleed, the Jews had thrown them into a ditch, whereuponvarious miracles occurred. When informed of this supposed desecration, the Bishop of Posen ordered the Jews to answer the charges. The woman accused of stealing the hosts, the rabbi of Posen, and thirteen elders of the Jewish community fell victims to the superstitious rage of the people. After long-continued torture on the rack they were all burned slowly at the stake. In addition, a permanent fine was imposed on the Jews of Posen, which they were required to pay annually to the Dominican church. This fine was rigorously collected until the eighteenth century. The persecution of the Jews was due not only to religious motives, but also to economic reasons, for they had gained control of certain branches of commerce, and the burghers, jealous of their success, desired to rid themselves in one way or another of their objectionable competitors.
The same motives were responsible for the riot of Cracow, instigated by the fanatical priest Budek in 1407. The first outbreak was suppressed by the city magistrates; but it was renewed a few hours later. A vast amount of property was destroyed; many Jews were killed; and their children were baptized. In order to save their lives a number of Jews accepted Christianity. The reform movement of the Hussites intensified religious fanaticism; and the resulting reactionary measures spread to Poland. The influential Polish archbishop Nicholas Tronba, after his return from the Council of Kalisz (1420), over which he had presided, induced the Polish clergy to confirm all the anti-Jewish legislation adopted at the councils of Breslau and Ofen, and which thitherto had been but rarely carried into effect. In addition to their previous disabilities, the Jews were now compelled to pay a tax for the benefit of the churches in the precincts in which they were residing, but "in which only Christians should reside."
In 1423 King Ladislaus Jagellon issued an edict forbidding the Jews to lend money on notes. In his reign, as in the reign of his successor, Ladislaus III., the ancient privileges of the Jews were almost forgotten. The Jews vainly appealed to Jagellon for the confirmation of their old charters. The clergy successfully opposed the renewal of these privileges on the ground that they were contrary to the canonical regulations. In the achievement of this purpose the rumor was even spread that the charter claimed to have been granted to the Jews by Casimir the Great was a forgery, inasmuch as a Catholic ruler would never have granted full civil rights to "unbelievers."Charter of Casimir IV.
The machinations of the clergy were checked somewhat by Casimir IV., Jagellon (1447-92). He readily renewed the charter granted to the Jews by Casimir the Great, the original of which had been destroyed in the fire that devastated Posen in 1447. To a Jewish deputation from the communities of Posen, Kalisz, Syeradza, Lenchich (Lenczyca), Brest, and Wladislavov which applied to him for the renewal of the charter, he said in his new grant: "We desire that the Jews, whom we protect especially for the sake of our own interests and those of the royal treasury, shall feel contented during our prosperous reign." In confirming all previous rights and privileges of the Jews—the freedom of residence and trade, judicial and communal autonomy, the inviolability of person and property, and protection against arbitrary accusation and attacks—the charter of Casimir IV. was a determined protest against the canonical laws, which had been but recently renewed for Poland by the Council of Kalisz, and for the entire Catholic world by the Diet of Basel. The charter, moreover, permitted more intimate relations between Jews and Christians, and freed the former from the jurisdiction of the clerical courts. Strong opposition was created by the king's liberal attitude toward the Jews, and was voiced by the leaders of the clerical party. Cardinal Zbignyev Olesnicki, Archbishop of Cracow, placed himself at the head of the opposition and took the king sternly to task for his favors to the Jews, which he claimed were "to the injury and insult of the holy faith." "Do not think," he wrote to the king in 1454, "that you are to decree whatever you please in matters of the Christian religion. No man is so great or so powerful that he may not be opposed in the cause of religion. Hence I beg and implore your majesty to repeal the privileges and rights in question." Joining forces with the papal nuncio Capistrano, Olesnicki inaugurated a vigorous campaign against the Jews and the Hussites. The repeated appeals of the clergy, and the defeat of the Polish troops by the Teutonic Knights—which the clergy openly ascribed to the wrath of God at Casimir's neglect of the interests of the Church, and his friendly attitude toward the Jews—finally induced the king to accede to the demands which had been made. In 1454 the statute of Nieszawa was issued, which included the abolition of the ancient privileges of the Jews "as contrary to divine right and the law of the land." The triumph of the clerical forces was soon felt by the Jewish inhabitants. The populace was encouraged to attack them in many Polish cities; the Jews of Cracow were again the greatest sufferers. In the spring of 1464 the Jewish quarters of the city were devastated by a mob composed of monks, students, peasants, and the minor nobles, who were then organizing a new crusade against the Turks. More than thirty Jews were killed, and many houses were destroyed. Similar disorders occurred in Posen and elsewhere, notwithstanding the fact that Casimir had fined the Cracow magistrates for having failed to take stringent measures for the suppression of the previous riots.Importance of the Polish Jewry.
The policy of the government toward the Jews of Poland was not more tolerant under Casimir's sons and successors, John Albert (1492-1501) and Alexander Jagellon (1501-6). John Albert frequently found himself obliged to inquire into local disputes between Jewish and Christian merchants. Thus in 1493 he adjusted the conflicting claims of the Jewish merchants and the burghers of Lemberg concerning the right to trade freely within the city. On the whole, however, he was not friendly to the Jews. The same may be said of Alexander Jagellon, who had expelled the Jews from Lithuania in 1495 (see Lithuania). To some extent he was undoubtedly influenced in this measure by the expulsionof the Jews from Spain (1492), which was responsible also for the increased persecution of the Jews in Austria, Bohemia, and Germany, and thus stimulated the Jewish emigration to Poland. For various reasons Alexander permitted the return of the Jews in 1503, and during the period immediately preceding the Reformation the number of Jewish exiles grew rapidly on account of the anti-Jewish agitation in Germany. Indeed, Poland became the recognized haven of refuge for exiles from western Europe; and the resulting accession to the ranks of the Polish Jewry made it the cultural and spiritual center of the Jewish people. This, as has been suggested by Dubnow, was rendered possible by the following conditions:
"The Jewish population of Poland was at that time greater than that of any other European country; the Jews enjoyed an extensive communal autonomy based on special privileges; they were not confined in their economic life to purely subordinate occupations, as was true of their western coreligionists; they were not engaged solely in petty trade and money-lending, but carried on also an important export trade, leased government revenues and large estates, and followed the handicrafts and, to a certain extent, agriculture; in the matter of residence they were not restricted to ghettos, like their German brethren. All these conditions contributed toward the evolution in Poland of an independent Jewish civilization. Thanks to its social and judicial autonomy, Polish Jewish life was enabled to develop freely along the lines of national and religious tradition. The rabbi became-not only the spiritual guide, but also a member of the communal administration [Ḳahal], a civil judge, and the authoritative expounder of the Law. Rabbinism was not a dead letter here, but a guiding religio-judicial system; for the rabbis adjudged civil as well as certain criminal cases on the basis of Talmudic legislation."
The Jews of Poland found themselves obliged to make increased efforts to strengthen their social and economic position, and to win the favor of the king and of the nobility. The conflicts of the different parties, of the merchants, the clergy, the lesser and the higher nobility, enabled the Jews to hold their own. The opposition of the Christian merchants and of the clergy was counterbalanced by the support of the Shlyakhta, who derived certain economic benefits from the activities of the Jews. By the constitution of 1504, sanctioned by Alexander Jagellon, the Shlyakhta Diets were given a voice in all important national matters. On some occasions the Jewish merchants, when pressed by the lesser nobles, were afforded protection by the king, since they were an important source of royal revenue.Favorable Reign of Sigismund I.
The most prosperous period in the life of the Polish Jews began with the reign of Sigismund I. (1506-48). In 1507 that king informed the authorities of Lemberg that until further notice its Jewish citizens, in view of losses sustained by them, were to be left undisturbed in the possession of all their ancient privileges ("Russko-Yevreiski Arkhiv," iii.79). His generous treatment of his physician, Jacob Isaac, whom he made a member of the nobility in 1507, testifies to his liberal views. In the same year Sigismund leased the customs revenues of Lubuchev to the Jew Chaczko, exempting him from all taxes. Similar exemptions from general or special taxes were granted by the king to a number of other Jews. In 1510 he reduced the taxes imposed upon the Jewish community of Lemberg to 200 florins, in consideration of their impoverished condition, and appointed as tax-collectors the Jews Solomon and Baruch. In the following year he was called upon to adjudicate in a case which illustrates the strained relations between the Jews and Christians of that city. The Jew Abraham was accused of sacrilege and placed under arrest. The king ordered his release on May 1 with the stipulation that he should either appear before the king's court on May 2 of the following year or pay a penalty of 3,000 marks. His bondsmen were the Jews Abraham Franczek of Cracow, Isaac Jacob Franczek of Opoczno, Slioma Swyathly, Oser, David and Michael Tabyc, and the Lemberg Jews Israel, Judah, two named Solomon, and Samuel. In the same year Sigismund exempted the Jews of Lemberg from the payment of all crown taxes for six years. In 1512 he leased to the Lemberg Jew Judah, son of Solomon, the customs revenues of Yaroslav for a term of four years. On June 2 of the same year he appointed Abraham of Bohemia prefect of the Jews of Great and Little Poland; and on Aug. 6 following he appointed the Kazimierz Jew Franczek as tax-collector for all the provinces of Little Poland, excepting Cracow and Kazimierz. In 1515 he adjudged an important suit between the aldermen and the Jews of Lemberg concerning the rights of the latter to carry on trade in that city. The aldermen had complained that the Jews had gained complete control of the trade, thus rendering it impossible for the Christian merchants to do business. Both parties submitted to the king copies of their ancient charters of privileges, and Sigismund decreed that the Jews, like the other merchants of Lemberg, were entitled to trade in various products throghout the country, but that they might sell cloth in the cities and towns during fairs only. The purchase of cattle by them was permitted only to the extent of 2,000 head annually, and then on the payment of a special duty.Certain Jews Admitted to Denizenship.
In 1517 Sigismund confirmed the ancient privileges of the Jews of Posen. In 1518 he ordered the customs-collector of Posen not to exact from the Jews larger duties on their wares than those collected from the king's other subjects. In the same year he confirmed the election for life of the rabbis Moses and Mendel as judges over the Jews of Great Poland. They were given the authority to decide suits both individually and jointly; and the Jews of Great Poland were required to recognize their authority, and to pay a fine into the royal treasury in case of failure to accept their decisions. In October of the same year the king admitted to Polish denizenship the Bohemian Jews Jacob and Lazar, granting them the right of unrestricted residence and movement throughout the kingdom. In 1519 Sigismund released the Jews of Great Poland, for a period of three years, from the payment of any crown taxes directly to the royal tax-collectors. He decreed that instead five Jewish collectors should be chosen, and a commission of eleven persons be appointed for the apportionment of the total tax of 200 florins among the several Jewish taxpayers, due regard being had to the wealth of each, andspecial reductions being provided in the case of the poor. In the event of the death or impoverishment of any of the taxpayers the collectors were empowered to increase the taxes of the well-to-do, in order that the poorer taxpayers might not be excessively burdened and that the total amount of the tax might remain undiminished. This decree was the result of complaints made by the Jews of Great Poland against the abuses and oppressions of the royal tax-collectors. The members of the commission appointed for this purpose were: Isaac of Meseritz (Mezhirechye), Samson of Skwirzyna, Mendel of Gnesen, Beniash of Obornik, Moses of Vlazlav, Kalman of Pakosch, David of Brest-Kuyavsk, Slioma of Lenchich, Abraham of Polotzk (formerly of Sokhaczev), Uziel of Kalisz, and Solomon of Plonsk. The tax-collectors appointed were: Samuel and Beniash of Posen; Mossel, the customs collector of Inovlozlav; Moses, the customs collector of Brest-Kuyavsk; and Jacob, a physician of Sokhaczev.Two Congregations in Cracow.
In the same year a quarrel arose between the Bohemian and the Polish Jews in the community of Cracow over the question whether there should be one rabbi for the entire community or a separate rabbi for each faction. The case was brought before the king, who decided (May 25, 1519) that, in accordance with established custom, the community should have two rabbis. Rabbi Peretz, who had already held that position for two years, and Rabbi Asher (son-in-law of Rachael), both of them experts in the Law, were proposed by the respective parties with the consent of the entire community. The king reserved the right, in case Peretz declined to continue in the rabbinate, to appoint his successor. Each rabbi was forbidden to interfere in the affairs of the other, under a penalty of 100 marks in silver payable into the royal treasury; and each member of the community was at liberty to choose which congregation he would join. The entire community was ordered, under a penalty for disobedience, to pay to the rabbis the various fees and other sources of income assigned to them by, ancient custom. This arrangement failed to adjust the difficulties, as is seen from a subsequent decision of the king (Nov. 5, 1519). A party of recently arrived Bohemian Jews, headed by Rabbi Peretz, wished to crowd out from the synagogue belonging to the Polish congregation the native part of the community, headed by Rabbi Asher. This ancient synagogue had been built by the Polish Jews and kept in repair by them until the arrival of the Bohemians. The king's second decision was more favorable to the native portion of the community, which was left in permanent possession of the synagogue. The followers of Rabbi Peretz were not permitted to enter the edifice without the consent of Rabbi Asher and his followers; and a penalty of 1,000 marks was imposed for infraction of this regulation. The Bohemians were, moreover, precluded on pain of a similar fine from inducing members of the native community to join their synagogue; while Rabbi Asher and his followers still retained the right to admit any person at their discretion.
The commercial activity of the Jewish merchants arrayed against them their Christian rivals of the larger cities. The magistrates of Posen and Lemberg, in their opposition to the Jews, even went so far as to propose a coalition against them (1521). The struggle was not always above board. In some towns the populace was incited against the Jews, and several riots occurred. Sigismund took measures to prevent the repetition of such disorders; and in the case of Cracow he warned the magistrates that he would hold them responsible for any recurrence.Jewish Favorites of Sigismund.
Sigismund's protection of his Jewish favorites is demonstrated by his letter of respite, Aug. 26, 1525, to the Posen Jew Beniash, surnamed "Dlugi" (= "the Tall"), an insolvent debtor, granting him an extension of time (until Feb. 21, 1527) wherein to pay his liabilities. This letter was intended to enable Beniash to adjust his business affairs, which had become involved owing in part to the large amount of debts due to him from various persons, especially Christians. A subsequent letter extended the royal protection to him for a further term of three years, prohibited forcible collection of money from him, and ordered that he be assisted in the collection of his debts. Any infringement of the provisions of the letter was to be regarded as lese-majesty. Further, Beniash was made subject to the jurisdiction of the king and of the waywode of Cracow. An especial mark of favor was shown also to the Jew Lazar of Brandenburg in a royal order dated Nov. 14, 1525, and exempting him for life from payment of the taxes imposed upon the other Jews of Cracow. In return for this privilege he was to pay only the sum of three florins annually. These favors were an acknowledgment of services rendered at Venice in the interests of the royal treasury and to Jodoc Ludwig, the king's ambassador there.
By an edict of June 14, 1530, the king exempted the Jew Simon and his family of the new town of Cerezin from subjection to any religious bans, and announced that any rabbi or doctor of the kingdom issuing an excommunication against them would be liable to a fine of 100 marks. On July 30, 1532, the king appointed Moses Fishel chief rabbi of the Polish synagogue of Cracow in succession to Rabbi Asher; and Fishel, with all his property in Kazimierz, was exempted for life from all taxes and duties, both ordinary and extraordinary. On Aug. 8, 1541, Sigismund issued an edict whereby the Jews of Great Poland were given the right to elect a chief rabbi, "a doctor of Judaism," subject to confirmation by the king. The government officials were forbidden to install in this office any person not previously elected thereto by the voluntary act of the Jews themselves.Converts to Judaism.
But while Sigismund himself was prompted by feelings of justice, his courtiers endeavored to turn to their personal advantage the conflicting interests of the different classes. Sigismund's second wife, Queen Bona, sold government positions for money; and her favorite, the waywode of Cracow, Peter Kmita, accepted bribes from both sides, promising to further the interests of each at the Diets and with the king. In 1530 the Jewish question was the subject of heated discussions at the Diets. There weresome delegates who insisted on the just treatment of the Jews. On the other hand, some went so far as to demand the expulsion of the Jews from the country, while still others wished to curtail their commercial rights. The Diet of Piotrkow (1538) elaborated a series of repressive measures against the Jews, who were prohibited from engaging in the collection of taxes and from leasing estates or government revenues, "it being against God's law that these people should hold honored positions among the Christians." The commercial pursuits of the Jews in the cities were placed under the control of the hostile magistrates, while in the villages Jews were forbidden to trade at all. The Diet revived also the medieval ecclesiastical law compelling the Jews to wear a distinctive badge. In 1539 a Catholic woman of Cracow, Katherine Zalyeshovska, was burned at the stake for avowed leanings toward Judaism, the populace being incited against the Jews by various pamphlets circulated among the people. This and similar cases of conversion to the Jewish faith were probably the result of the secret societies which were established among the Shlyakhta in 1530, and which owed their origin to the religious reforms among the intelligent members of Polish society on the advent of Lutheranism in the German districts of Poland (see Dubnow in "Voskhod," May, 1895).
The influx of foreign Jews, particularly from Bohemia, was probably responsible for a decree of Oct. 17, 1542, by which ordinance they were forbidden to settle within the kingdom, and freedom of movement was accorded only to such Bohemian Jews as had already settled on crown or Shlyakhta lands. An exception was allowed, however, in favor of the cities of Cracow, Posen, and Lemberg. This decree, issued at the request of the Jews themselves, was promulgated before the death of Sigismund Jagellon, and was not signed by Sigismund II., Augustus, as certain sources state.
Sigismund II., Augustus (1548-72) followed in the main the tolerant policy of his father. He confirmed the ancient privileges of the Polish Jews, and considerably widened and strengthened the autonomy of their communities. By a decree of Aug. 13, 1551, the Jews of Great Poland were again granted permission to elect a chief rabbi, who was to act as judge in all matters concerning their religious life. Jews refusing to acknowledge his authority were to be subject to a fine or to excommunication; and those refusing to yield to the latter might be executed after a report of the circumstances had been made to the authorities. The property of the recalcitrants was to be confiscated and turned into the crown treasury. The chief rabbi was exempted from the authority of the waywode and other officials, while the latter were obliged to assist him in enforcing the law among the Jews. In agreements concluded (June 30 and Sept. 15, 1553) between the Jews of Cracow and the Christian merchants of Kazimierz and Stradom the signatures of the following prominent Jews occur: Rabbi Moses; Jonas Abramovich; Israel Czarnij; Simon, son-in-law of Moses; Samuel, son of Feit; Moses Echlier; Rabbi Esaias; Lazar, son-in-law of the widow Bona; and Rabbi Alexander. In 1556 the king issued a decree defining the judicial rights of the Jews of Lublin. In a similar document issued in the same year the conflicting claims of the Jewish and Christian merchants of Posen were adjusted.Under Sigismund II.
The favorable attitude of the king and of the enlightened nobility could not prevent the growing animosity against the Jews in certain parts of the kingdom. The Reformation movement stimulated an anti-Jewish crusade by the Catholic clergy, who preached vehemently against all heretics—Lutherans, Calvinists, and Jews. In 1550 the papal nuncio Alois Lipomano, who had been prominent as a persecutor of the Neo-Christians in Portugal, was delegated to Cracow to strengthen the Catholic spirit among the Polish nobility. He warned the king of the evils resulting from his tolerant attitude toward the various non-believers in the country. Seeing that the Polish nobles, among whom the Reformation had already taken strong root, paid but scant courtesy to his preachings, he initiated a movement against the Tatars and the Jewish inhabitants of Lithuania, whom he attempted to convert to Catholicism (1555). Returning from Wilna to Cracow in 1556 he inaugurated there a crusade against the Jews. In the interests of this crusade a rumor was spread among the populace to the effect that a Christian woman of Sochaczow, Dorotea Lazencka, had sold to the local Jews a host which she had received at communion and which they had pierced until blood began to flow from the punctures. By order of the Bishop of Kholm three Jews of Sochaczow and their "accomplice," Dorotea Lazencka, were put in chains, and later sentenced to death. When the king, who was at that time in Wilna, learned of the matter, he sent to the burgo-master of Sochaczow orders to stop the proceedings until a thorough investigation could be made.Host-Desecration Charges.
The bishop, however, presented a forged royal order for the execution; and the supposed blasphemers were burned at the stake a few days before the king's deputy arrived (1557). Sigismund Augustus was highly incensed at this sanguinary deed, the prime mover in which was the nuncio Lipomano. "I am horrified at the thought of this shameful crime," he said, "and besides I do not wish to be regarded as a fool who believes that blood may flow from a pierced host." The Protestant nobles, who could not conscientiously bring themselves to believe in the absurd medieval fable, took the part of the Jews; and numerous satires were written against the nuncio and the bishop. Sigismund pointed out that papal bulls had repeatedly asserted that all such accusations were without any foundation whatsoever; and he decreed that henceforth any Jew accused of having committed a murder for ritual purposes, or of having stolen a host, should be brought before his own court during the sessions of the Diet.
Notwithstanding this decree and the ridicule of the reformers, clerical influences forced the enactment of anti-Jewish laws at the Diets of 1562 and 1565. At this time the Jews found a defender in Solomon ben Nathan Ashkenazi, who before his departurefor Turkey was the king's physician. Simon Günzburg, a wealthy court Jew and a celebrated architect, also defended the cause of his coreligionists. In 1566 the Jew Benedict Levith was awarded for a term of four years the monopoly of importing Hebrew books and of selling them throughout the country. At the request of the Jews the king permitted (1567) Rabbi Isaac May to build a yeshibah in the suburb of Lublin. ln 1571 the elders of the Jewish community of Posen were given the right to expel from the city lawless or immoral members of the community, and even to sentence them to death. The local waywode was at the same time forbidden to oppose the execution of such sentences. The autonomy thus granted by Sigismund August to the Jews in the matter of communal administration laid the foundation for the power of the Ḳahal, which, as has been pointed out by Dubnow, subsequently brought to the Polish Jewry both great advantage and considerable harm.
The officers of the ḳahal frequently made agreements with the magistrates on the strength of which the Jews were given the right, in return for certain taxes, to trade freely and to own real estate within the city limits. There were, however, some cities like Syeradz and Vielun in which Jews were not allowed even to reside. In 1659 Lithuania was united to Poland; for the effect of this union on Jewish life in Poland see
The death of Sigismund Augustus (1572) and the termination therewith of the Jagellon dynasty necessitated the election of his successor by the elective body of the Shlyakhta. The neighboring states were deeply interested in the matter, each hoping to insure the choice of its own candidate. The pope was eager to assure the election of a Catholic, lest the influences of the Reformation should become predominant in Poland. Catherine de Medici was laboring energetically for the election of her son Henry of Anjou. But in spite of all the intrigues at the various courts, the deciding factor in the election was the above-mentioned Solomon Ashkenazi, then in charge of the foreign affairs of Turkey. Henry of Anjou was elected, which fact was of deep concern to the liberal Poles and the Jews. Fortunately this participator in the massacre of St. Bartholomew secretly fled to France after a reign of a few months, in order to succeed his deceased brother Charles IX. on the French throne.Under Stephen Bathori.
Stephen Bathori (1576-86) was now elected king of Poland; and he proved both a tolerant ruler and a friend of the Jews. On Feb. 10, 1577, he sent orders to the magistrate of Posen directing him to prevent class conflicts, and to maintain order in the city. His orders were, however, of no avail. Three months after his manifesto a riot occurred in Posen, for details of which see
Yeshibot were established, under the direction of the rabbis, in the more prominent communities. Such schools were officially known as gymnasiums, and their rabbi-principals as rectors. Important yeshibot existed in Cracow, Posen, and other cities. Jewish printing establishments came into existence in the first quarter of the sixteenth century. In 1530 a Hebrew Pentateuch was printed in Cracow; and at the end of the century the Jewish printing-houses of that city and Lublin issued a large number of Jewish books, mainly of a religious character. The growth of Talmudic scholarship in Poland was coincident with the greater prosperity of the Polish Jews; and because of their communal autonomy educational development was wholly one-sided and along Talmudic lines. Exceptions are recorded, however, where Jewish youth sought secular instruction in the European universities. The learned rabbis became not merely expounders of the Law, but also spiritual advisers, teachers, judges, and legislators; and their authority compelled the communal leaders to make themselves familiar with the abstruse questions of Talmudic law. The Polish Jewry found its views of life shaped by the spirit of the Talmudic and rabbinical literature, whose influence was felt in the house, in the school, and in the synagogue.Pioneers of Talmudic Learning.
In the first half of the sixteenth century the seeds of Talmudic learning had been transplanted to Poland from Bohemia, particularly from the school of Jacob Pollak, the creator of Pilpul. Shalom Shachna (c. 1500-58), a pupil of Pollak, is counted among the pioneers of Talmudic learning in Poland. He lived and died in Lublin, where he was the head of the yeshibah which produced the rabbinical celebrities of the following century. Shachna's sonIsrael became rabbi of Lublin on the death of his father, and Shachna's pupil Moses Isserles (ReMA; 1520-72) achieved an international reputation among the Jews. His contemporary and correspondent Solomon Luria (1510-73) of Lublin also enjoyed a wide reputation among his coreligionists; and the authority of both was recognized by the Jews throughout Europe. Among the famous pupils of Isserles should be mentioned David Gans and Mordecai Jaffe, the latter of whom studied also under Luria. Another distinguished rabbinical scholar of that period was Eliezer b. Elijah Ashkenazi (1512-85) of Cracow. His "Ma'ase ha-Shem" (Venice, 1583) is permeated with the spirit of the moral philosophy of the Sephardic school, but is extremely mystical. At the end of the work he attempts to forecast the coming of the Messiah in 1595, basing his calculations on the Book of Daniel. Such Messianic dreams found a receptive soil in the unsettled religious conditions of the time. The new sect of Socinians or Unitarians, which denied the Trinity and which, therefore, stood near to Judaism, had among its leaders Simon Budny, the translator of the Bible into Polish, and the priest Martin Czechowic. Heated religious disputations were common, and Jewish scholars participated in them.Sigismund III.
The Catholic reaction which with the aid of the Jesuits and the Council of Trent spread throughout Europe finally reached Poland. The Jesuits found a powerful protector in Bathori's successor, Sigismund III. (1587-1632). Under his rule the "golden freedom" of the Polish knighthood gradually vanished; government by the "liberum veto" undermined the authority of the Diet; and the approach of anarchy was thus hastened. However, the dying spirit of the republic was still strong enough to check somewhat the destructive power of Jesuitism, which under an absolute monarchy would have led to drastic anti-Jewish measures similar to those that had been taken in Spain. Thus while the Catholic clergy was the mainstay of the anti-Jewish forces, the king remained at least in semblance the defender of the Jews (see
Ladislaus IV. (1632-48), though personally a tolerant ruler, could not check the bitter factional hatreds of his subjects. In 1642 he permitted the Jews of Cracow to engage freely in export trade, but withdrew this permission two months later in compliance with the demands of the Christian merchants. Many of the Jews, thus restricted and oppressed in the cities, moved to the villages and became leaseholders of estates belonging to the Shlyakhta, and engaged also in the liquor trade. The powerful nobles as well as the high church dignitaries leased their lands to them, and the synod of Warsaw (1643) severely criticized some of the bishops for thus placing the Jews over the Christian peasants. The synod of Posen indignantly commented on the "audacity of the Jews" in trading in the market-places on Christian holy days. In 1636 the Jews of Lublin had been acquitted by the crown tribunal of the charge of having murdered a Christian child for ritual purposes. The local clergy, annoyed at the acquittal, invented another charge, supported by "evidence." The Carmelite monk Paul declared that Jews had lured him into a house, had bled him with the aid of a German barber named Schmidt (a Lutheran), and had collected his blood in a dish, whispering meanwhile some prayer. The tribunal accepted this accusation, and, after a trial accompanied by torture on the rack, sentenced one Jew, named Mark, to death. The Carmelites hastened to make this case public in order to strengthen the prejudice of the populace. The Jew Mark is mentioned also on the fly-leaf of an old prayer-book preserved in the synagogue of Pinchov. The inscription speaks of "the martyrs on this earth in the city of Lublin, in the year (5)396 = 1636." The martyr Mark is called here "the learned Rabbi Mordecai, son of the sainted Rabbi Meïr." The pamphlet by the Carmelite monks referring to this case is entitled "Processus Causæ Inter Instigatorem Judicii Tribunalis Regni et Perfidium Marcum Judæum Agitatæ." This case is reported also in the book of the priest Stefan Zuchowski, published in 1713. Nine months after the revolting judicial murder of Lublin a more horrible execution took place in Cracow (1637). The details of this case are not known; but, from entries in the Pinchov prayer-book and the pinḳes of the burial society of Cracow, it appears that seven Jews were executed; namely, Rabbi Abraham ben Isaac, Jacob b. David, Samuel b. Samuel, Elijah b. Judah, Benjamin b. Shalom, Jacob b. Issachar, and Moses b. Phinehas. Zhukhowski makes no mention of thiscase. A similar case occurred in Lenchich in 1639 (see
The hostility of their Christian neighbors reacted on the inner life of the Polish Jews; and the scholar Delmedigo, who visited Poland and Lithuania in 1620, was struck by their indifferent and at times hostile attitude toward secular learning. But, while the intellectual field of the Jews was narrowed equally with their social life, there was displayed in both an unceasing activity inspired by Talmudic precepts. The Talmud served them as an encyclopedia of all knowledge and for questions of everyday life, including abstract law, legal decisions, both civil and criminal, religious legislation, theology, etc. It was diligently studied; but the methods of study depended on the social position of the student. The rabbis of higher rank, those who took an active part in the ḳahal administrations and who participated in the Council of Four Lands, paid most attention to the practical application of the Talmudic law. Chief among them was Mordecai Jaffe (see
The kingdom of Poland proper, which had hitherto suffered but little either from the Cossacks' uprising or from the invasion of the Russians, now became the scene of terrible disturbances (1655-58). King Charles X. of Sweden, at the head of his victorious army, overran Poland; and soon the whole country, including the cities of Cracow and Warsaw, was in his hands. The Jews of Great and Little Poland found themselves between two fires: those of them who were spared by the Swedes were attacked by the Poles, who accused them of aiding the enemy. The Polish general Stefan Czarniecki, in his flight from the Swedes, devastated the whole country through which he passed and treated the Jews without mercy. The Polish partizan detachments treated the non-Polish inhabitants with equal severity. Moreover, the horrors of the war were aggravated by pestilence, and the Jews of the districts of Kalisz, Cracow, Posen, Piotrkow, and Lublin perished en masse by the sword of the enemy and the plague. Certain Jewish writers of the day were convinced that the home and protection which the Jews had for a long time enjoyed in Poland were lost to them forever.
Some of these apprehensions proved to be unfounded. As soon as the disturbances had ceased, the Jews began to return and to rebuild their destroyed homes; and while it is true that the Jewish population of Poland had decreased and become impoverished, it still was more numerous than that of the Jewish colonies in western Europe. Poland remained as hitherto the spiritual center of Judaism; and the remarkable vitality of the Jews manifested itself in the fact that they in a comparatively short time managed to recuperate from their terrible trials.
King John Casimir (1648-68) endeavored to compensate the impoverished people for their sufferings and losses, as is evidenced by a decree granting the Jews of Cracow the rights of free trade (1661); and similar privileges, together with temporary exemption from taxes, were granted to many other Jewish communities, which had suffered most from the Russo-Swedish invasion.
In spite of the spiritual poverty of the Jews of Poland, some of them sought instruction at foreign universities. Among the Polish physicians of the time was Jacob, who studied medicine at Padua, and came to Posen after the expulsion of the Jews from Vienna in 1670. He married the daughter of the physician Moses Judah (Mojzese Judko). In 1673 Moses Judah became the physician to the Jewish community at a salary of 40 gold ducats; he was also one of the elders of the Jewish community, and defended its suits at the Diets. He was highly respected by the nobility. His son, who also had studied medicine at Padua, succeeded him in his post, and remained in Posen until 1736. The grammarian Isaac ben Samuel, ha-Levi lived for some time in Posen, and died there in 1646. The philosopher Solomon Ashkenazi of Posen and the mathematician Elijah of Pinczow were prominent at the end of the seventeenth century.
John Casimir's successor, King Michael Wischneveczki (1669-73), also granted some privileges to the Jews. This was partly due to the efforts of Moses Markowitz, the representative of the Jewish communities of Poland. The heroic king John Sobieski (1674-96) was in general very favorably inclined toward the Jews; but the Senate and the nobility deprecated such friendliness toward "infidels."Accession of the Saxon Dynasty.
With the accession to the throne of the Saxon dynasty the Jews completely lost the support of the government. While it is true that Augustus II., the Strong (1697-1733), and Augustus III. (1733-63) officially confirmed at their coronations the Jewish charters, such formal declarations were insufficient, owing to the disorders prevailing in the kingdom, to guard the already limited rights of the Jews against the hostile elements. The government was anxious only tocollect from the ḳahals the taxes, which were constantly being made heavier in spite of the fact that the Jews had not yet recovered from the ruinous events of the Cossacks' uprising and the Swedish invasion. The Shlyakhta and the other classes of the urban population were extremely hostile to the Jews. In the larger cities, like Posen and Cracow, quarrels between the Christians and the Jewish inhabitants were of frequent occurrence; and they assumed a very violent aspect. Based originally on economic grounds, they were carried over into the religious arena; and it was evident that the seeds which the Jesuits had planted had finally borne fruit. Ecclesiastical councils displayed great hatred toward the Jews. Attacks on the latter by students, the so-called "Schüler-Gelauf," became every-day occurrences in the large cities, the police regarding such scholastic riots with indifference. Indeed, lawlessness, violence, and disorder reigned supreme at that time in Poland, marking the beginning of the downfall of the kingdom. In order, therefore, to protect themselves against such occurrences, the Jewish communities in many cities made annual contributions to the local Catholic schools.Prevalence of Superstition.
Many miracle-workers made their appearance among the Jews of Poland, prominent among whom was Joel ben Isaac Heilprin, known also as "Ba'al Shem I.," a believer in and practitioner of demonology. These men added to the mental and moral confusion of the Jewish masses. "There is no other country," says a writer of the seventeenth century, "in which the Jews occupy themselves so much with mystic fantasies, devilism, talismans, and the invocation of spirits, as in Poland." Even famous rabbis of that time devoted themselves to cabalistic practises. Special notoriety as a cabalist was gained by Naphtali ben Isaac ha-Kohen, whose belief in the power of a certain amulet led to the destruction of almost the entire Jewish quarter of Frankfort. The popular superstitions that had so completely enveloped the Polish Jewry were the direct cause of the Messianic movements that had begun to agitate the Jewish world; and although Shabbethai Ẓebi, hailed at first as the Messiah, lost a large number of his followers on his conversion to Mohammedanism, mysticism had become too deeply rooted in the Jewish masses to be destroyed even by this rude awakening. Shabbethaianism was succeeded by Frankism (see
The sufferings of the Polish Jews from external enemies in times of war and from persecutions by their Christian neighbors in times of peace served to cement more strongly their internal life and stimulated a more thorough organization for the common protection. One of the proclamations of the Council of Four Lands, issued in 1676, reads as follows:
"We have sinned grievously against the Almighty; the disturbances increase from day to day. It is becoming more and more difficult for us to live. Our people are considered as naught among other nations; and it is wonderful, in view of all our misfortunes, that we still exist. The only thing left for us to do is to form ourselves into a close union, following strictly the commands of the Lord and the precepts of our venerable teachers and guides."
This was followed by a series of paragraphs ordering implicit obedience to the instructions of the ḳahals, and forbidding the leasing of government taxes or estates of the Shlyakhta and the formation of any commercial companies with non-Jews, without the consent of the ḳahals, "since such enterprises lead to clashes with, and reproaches against the Jews by, the Christian population." It was also forbidden to "transfer Jewish goods into strange hands" or to appeal to the Polish authorities merely from a desire to injure the interests of society or to create discord or party conflicts in the communities. In this way the power of the ḳahals became very pronounced; and they were aided by the government, which found it more convenient to deal with a few centralized bodies than with a multitude of individuals. Each ḳahal was responsible to the government for the action of its individual members, and was required also to collect the taxes (see
The decade from the Cossacks' uprising until after the Swedish war (1648-58) left a deep and lasting impression not only on the social life of the Polish-Lithuanian Jews, but on their spiritual life as well. The mental level of the Jews gradually sank. The Talmudic learning which up to that period had been the common possession of the majority of the people became accessible to a limited number of students only, while the masses remained in ignorance and superstition. The intellectual activity even of the rabbis fell to a low level; for while it is true that there were still many prominent rabbis in Poland who were men of great Talmudic learning and secular knowledge, they did not leave behind them any such great works as did their predecessors—Solomon Luria, Isserles, Mordecai Jaffe, and Meïr of Lublin. In the very few works that were produced there was noticeable an utter lack of originality. Some rabbis busied themselves with insignificant quibbles concerning religious laws; others wrote commentaries on different parts of the Talmud in which hair-splitting arguments were raised and discussed; and at times these arguments dealt with matters which were of no practical moment. Aaron Samuel Kaidanover (1614-76), who barely escaped with his life from the Cossacks in 1648, wrote "Birkat ha-Zebaḥ," a commentary on the sacrifices and the abolished rituals of the Temple of Jerusalem. Others, like Abraham Abele Gombiner in his "Magen Abraham," produced commentaries on the Shulḥan 'Aruk. Aside from sophistic argumentations these rabbis recognized no branch of knowledge, either secular or theological.
Side by side with the scholastic writings of the rabbis there flourished also a didactic literature. Such were the productions of the preachers ("darshanim") who occupied prominent positions in the synagogues or traveled from town to town. The collections of contemporary sermons contain a conglomerationof haggadic and cabalistic sayings on which in many cases are based entirely erroneous interpretations of the Biblical text. These darshanim cared little for the enlightenment of their hearers, and were intent solely on making a brilliant display of their own erudition in theological matters. Some preachers endeavored to inculcate in their people an appreciation of the practical Cabala. The works of Isaac Luria and his school were at that time very popular in Poland, and their teachings were spread among the people in the form of monstrous stories concerning the future life, the terrible tortures inflicted on sinners, the transmigration of souls, etc.Reform Measures.
Disorder and anarchy reigned supreme in Poland during the second half of the eighteenth century, from the accession to the throne of its last king, Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski (1764-95). This state of affairs was due to the haughty demeanor of the nobility toward the lower classes. The necessity for reform was, it is true, recognized by the king and by many of the Polish people; but Poland was already in the grasp of Russia, and little could be done in this direction. Jewish affairs were sadly neglected, the government seeking merely the extortion of larger taxes; thus the Diet which met at Warsaw in 1764 for the discussion of measures of reform considered the Jews only to the extent of changing the tax system. Up to that time a polltax had been imposed upon the total number of Jews in Poland, the synod and Diet apportioning it among the different ḳahals; but under the new system every individual Jew was taxed two gulden, and every ḳahal was responsible for payments by its own members. The already oppressive tax burden was increased by this "reform"; and the central autonomous government which the Jews had until then enjoyed was overthrown. At that time the Shlyakhta likewise were jealously guarding their own interests; and at the election of the king in 1764 they insisted that Jews should not be permitted to manage any crown lands or to lease taxes or other revenues of the kingdom. Again, in 1768 the Diet revived a law from the old constitution of 1538, to the effect that Jews wishing to engage in any commercial enterprise in the cities must obtain a permit from the local magistracies. In many instances the members of these were Christian merchants and burghers, competitors of the Jews.First Partition.
About this time, and as a direct consequence of the disorganization of Poland, the disastrous incursions of the brigand bands known as the Haidamacks took place. The movement originated in Podolia and in that part of the Ukraine which still belonged to Poland. These and other internal disorders combined to hasten the end of Poland as a kingdom. In 1772 the outlying provinces were divided among the three neighboring nations, Russia, Austria, and Prussia. Russia secured a considerable part of the territory now known as White Russia; Austria obtained Galicia and a part of Podolia; while Prussia received Pomerania and the lands lying along the lower Vistula. Jews were most numerous in the territories that fell to the lot of Austria and Russia. The permanent council established at the instance of the Russian government (1777-88) served as the highest administrative tribunal, and occupied itself with the elaboration of a plan that would make practicable the reorganization of Poland on a more rational basis. The progressive elements in Polish society recognized the urgency of popular education as the very first step toward reform. In 1773 the Order of Jesus in Poland was abolished by Pope Clement XIV., who thus freed Polish youth from the demoralizing influences of Jesuitism. The famous Edukacyjne Komisje (educational commission), established in 1775, founded numerous new schools and remodeled the old ones. One of the members of the commission, Andrew Zamoiski, elaborated a project for the reorganization of the social life of the Jews (1778). The author demanded that the inviolability of their persons and property should be guaranteed and that religious toleration should be to a certain extent granted them; but he insisted that Jews living in the cities should be separated from the Christians, that those of them having no definite occupation should be banished from the kingdom, and that even those engaged in agriculture should not be allowed to possess land. This shows how deeply hatred of the Jew was rooted in the hearts of the Polish nobility and how difficult it was for even the best of them to consider the Jewish question from an unbiased point of view. In 1786 certain members of the Polish nobility conspired with the Catholic clergy, the governor-general, and others, and sent delegates to St. Petersburg with the object of depriving the Jews of the right to farm taxes and customs duties and to engage in distilling, brewing, etc. It should be mentioned, however, that among the clergy there were many who were friendly to the Jews. At the Quadrennial Diet (1788-91) the demand for reform grew stronger. Matheus Butrymowicz, a deputy to the Diet, published in 1789 a pamphlet in which he strongly condemned the lack of toleration, and advised that equality of rights and citizenship should be granted to the Jews. Tadeusz Czacki, the author and statesman, was even more liberal; and in his well-known "Rozprawa o Zydach," etc. (= "Discourse on the Jews"), he advocated the establishment of separate institutions by the Jews for the management of their religious affairs. In June, 1790, a special commission was appointed by the Diet to frame a measure for the reform of the social life of the Jews. At the head of this commission was Ezerski, and Butrymowicz was one of its members. Two projects were submitted: one by Hugo Kollontai, and the other, as some suppose, by King Stanislaus himself, of which the chief feature was the recognition, in the national system of government, of the civil and political equality of the Jews. This was the only example in modern Europe before the French Revolution of tolerance and broad-mindedness in dealing with the Jewish question. But all these proposed reforms were too late. Through the intrigues and bribery of Catherine II. the Confederation of Targowitza was formed, to which belonged the adherents of the old order of things. A Russian army invaded Poland, and soon after a Prussian one followed.The Second and Third Partitions.
A second partition of Poland was made July 17,1793, Russia taking a large part of White Russia, half of Volhynia, all of Podolia, and the part of the Ukraine which had previously been retained by Poland, and Germany taking Great Poland (Posen).
A general rising of the Poles took place in 1794. Kosciusko was made dictator, and succeeded in driving the Russians out of Warsaw. Dissensions, however, arose among the Poles, and the Russians and Prussians again entered Poland. Kosciusko was decisively defeated at Maciejowice Oct. 10, 1794; Suvarof entered Warsaw Nov. 8, and Polish resistance came to an end. The Jews took an active part in this last struggle of Poland for independence. A certain Joselovich Berek formed with the permission of Kosciusko a regiment of light cavalry consisting entirely of Jews. This regiment accomplished many deeds of valor on the field of battle and distinguished itself especially at the siege of Warsaw, nearly all its members perishing in the defense of Praga, the fortified suburb of the capital.
The third and final partition of Poland took place in 1795. Russia acquired the whole of Lithuania and Courland; Austria, the remainder of Galicia, and Podolia, including Cracow; Prussia, the rest of Poland, including Warsaw, the capital; and there-with Poland ceased to exist as an independent country. The great bulk of the Jewish population was transferred to Russia, and thus became subjects of that empire.
- Bershadski, Litovskie Yevrei, St. Petersburg, 1883;
- idem, V Izgnanii, in Voskhod, 1892;
- Czacki, Rozprava a Zydach i Karaitach, Wilna, 1807;
- D. Friedländer, Ueber die Verhesserung der Israeliten im Königreich Polen, Berlin, 1819;
- Dubnow, in Voskhod, 1895, i. 125; 1900, ii., iv.;
- idem, Yevreiskaya Istoria, vol. ii., 1897 (the chief source of this article for the communal history of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries);
- Hollaenderski, Les Israélites de Pologne, Paris, 1846;
- Hube, Prawadawstwo Polskie 14 Wicku, Warsaw, 1886;
- Kraushar, Historia Zydow w Polsce, Warsaw, 1865-66;
- Lelevel, Histoire de Pologne, Paris, 1844;
- Lewanda, in Voskhod, 1886, ix.;
- Grätz, Gesch. 4th ed., and Hebrew translation by Rabbinowitz, passim;
- L. Gumploviez, Stanislawa Augusta Project Reform Zydowstwa Polskiego, Cracow, 1875;
- Maciejowski, Zydzi w Polsce, na Rusii Litwie, Warsaw, 1878;
- M. Gumplovicz, Poczatki Religä Zydowskiej w Polsce, ib. 1903;
- Naruszewicz, Historya Narodu Polskiego, ii. ib. 1780;
- Pavlovich, in Yevreiskaya Biblioteka, iv. 659. v. 89;
- Russko-Yevreiski Arkhiv, vol. iii., St. Petersburg, 1903;
- S. Bennet, The Constancy of Israel, London, 1809;
- Stobbe, Geschichte der Juden in Deutschland, 1866;
- Schorr, in Voskhod, 1900 and 1901;
- Bloch, Die Generalprivilegien der Polnischen Judenschaft, Posen, 1891;
- Feilchenfeld, Die Innere Gemeindeverfassung der Juden in Polen, Posen, 1886.
- Much of the history of Poland has already appeared in The Jewish Encyclopedia under the captions indicated above by small capitals.