Евреи Петербурга. Три века истории


Previous period
Next period

Alexander I maintained a dual policy toward Jews. On the one hand, the Emperor attempted to disseminate the European enlightenment among Jews, and set up Jewish agricultural colonies, but on the other hand he imposed a number of restrictions. While declaring religious tolerance, he at the same time he attempted to urge Jews to adopt Christianity en masse.
In 1802, an ad hoc committee was appointed in order to draw up a Regulation on Jews. This committee included the highest dignitaries of the Empire: Gavrila Derzhavin,A portrait of Gavrila Derzhavin Adam Chartoryisky,A portrait of Adam Chartoryisky Victor Kochubey,A portrait of Victor Kochubey Mikhail Speransky.A portrait of Mikhail Speransky The Regulation it prepared was approved by the Emperor on January 9, 1804. This Regulation finally established the "Jewish Pale of Residence".
The Pale included western provinces as well as the areas which were being settled in the south of the country (New Russia). Under the 1804 Regulation the Jews enjoyed the right to practise trade and crafts, register as merchants, and enter guilds. The Jewish communities (kagals) enjoyed the right of self-rule, and could collect taxes for communal needs (korobochny sbor - kosher food tax, and other taxes).
In the Polish Kingdom which was annexed by Russia in 1815 the Jews retained their residential and professional rights but had no right to move to the Russian Empire (even within the Pale).A map of the Pale
During the War of 1812 the Jews of Russian western provinces provided active assistance for the Russian army. Jewish innkeepers and petty traders conducted reconnaissance, helped to deliver messages, and were eyes and ears for the Russian army. Not a small number of Jews worked as provisioners. Several Jewish communities were awarded diplomas of gratitude by the Government. Such a position was quite acceptable since Talmudic tradition prescribes loyalty to the country of residence and its government.
The Jewish community of Odessa was the largest and most original among the new Jewish communities which were emerging in the south of the country at that time. It was the first community to show new tendencies in Jewish communal life - new activities and understanding of the necessity of a European education.
Jewish merchants, contractors and handicraftsmen began to settle in such southern cities as Nikolayev, Ochakov, Sevastopol.
Simultaneously, Jewish agricultural colonies were set up on the initiative of government authorities in southern provinces. The Government granted various privileges to the Jewish agriculturists. However, agriculture did not become a mass occupation for the Russian Jews because of the government's dual policy and bureaucratic migration procedures.Odessa synagogue

A portrait of Gavrila Derzhavin
A portrait of Mikhail Speransky
A portrait of Victor Kochubey
A portrait of Adam Chartoryisky
A map of the Pale
Odessa synagogue

A portrait of Gavrila Derzhavin