By: Herman Rosenthal
Capital of the government of Abo-Björneborg in Finland, Russia, situated near the entrance of the Auraioki river into the Gulf of Bothnia.
Formerly no Jews were permitted to live in Abo, owing to the Swedish law of 1782, which excluded them from all Finland (see Finland). When this region was annexed to Russia, a ukase was issued (March 29, 1858) by which Jews who had served in the army there received the right to settle in that province. The same privileges were granted to their widows and children. Soon after the publication of this ukase the Jews began to settle in Abo. In 1883 the local merchants and artisans applied to the senate to withdraw all privileges from the Jews, including even the right of settlement in Abo. On June 27, 1883, a mob invaded the synagogue of Abo during the service and tried to cause a disturbance. The police quickly restored order. Thereupon a commission was appointed to regulate the Jewish question in Finland. Jews were subsequently permitted to settle in Abo, but their permits had to be renewed each year. Of the population of Abo, which, in 1898, aggregated 34,339 persons, only 220 were Jews, the remainder comprising 19,000 Finns and 13,000 Swedes.
- Vsya Rossiya (Russian Directory), 1899;
- Ha-Eshkol (Hebr. ency.), s.v.