Евреи Петербурга. Три века истории

City community

City community
City community
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From the mid-1920s to the mid-1930s, the Jewish population of Leningrad grew; in general, this was caused by Jewish immigration from Byelorussian and Ukrainian towns as well as from the Smolensk and Bryansk regions. First of all, young people moved to Leningrad to get an education. To be allowed to get a higher education, the children of rabbis, shoykhets, private craftsmen or NEPmen (businessmen who took advantage of the NEP) needed to work at a proletarian profession for two years. In small towns, it was very difficult to find a job; so young Jews had to master workers' professions in Leningrad. When the children had settled in the new place, the parents - the "lishenetses", former "cult servants" or NEPmen - joined them. The process continued until 1934, when the institution of residence permits was restored in the USSR. Thereafter, it was very difficult to get a permit to settle in a city, especially in Moscow and Leningrad.Leningrad Jewish family. The early 1930s. Photo
Newcomers needed lodging and employment. Whereas young people got jobs at factories, entered labor faculties and then universities, older plumbers, carpenters, tanners, sewers or mechanics joined artels (cooperative associations of workmen). Many worked as shop-assistants or got a job in the management of manufacturing cooperative societies. Unofficial Jewish ethnic groups came together spontaneously. Naturally, provincial newcomers felt uncomfortably in a big city, especially at the beginning; and those who already had the experience of settling in new conditions were able to help them. As Leningrad Jews recall, some Jewish groups, for example Krasilovskoe, continued to exist until the late 1960s while their founders were alive. Jewish groups organized (of course, unofficially) financial or other aid, helped newcomers to find lodging, helped them to find a job.
Jewish newcomers in Leningrad needed more than assistance with everyday wants. It was necessary to satisfy their cultural needs as well. And it was already rather a problem by the early 1930s. In 1926, Soviet authorities changed their policy of making voluntary societies official to one of destroying them. By 1927, most Jewish cultural, educational or other societies no longer existed. Not only old, authoritative organizations established before the Revolution, such as the OPE, ORT or Historical and Ethnographic Society, were included in the prohibition list, but also those established during the first years of Soviet Power: Yevobshchestkom, EKOPO, and some Jewish clubs. Almost all Jewish periodicals were closed. Until 1929, an almshouse operated on Vasilievskiy Island; and LEKOPO clinic functioned until 1930.
Until 1928, there still was a Jewish Theater in Leningrad. In 1931, the Jewish Club united with the Ya.M. Sverdlov Jewish Education House. In addition to the Education House, there was also a Leningrad branch of VOZET. The Museum of the Jewish Historical and Ethnographic Society no longer accepted visitors, although it was not yet closed officially. Near the Synagogue, there was the 5th ethnic Jewish school. On Vasilievskiy Island, in the building of a former orphanage, there was a children's home and one more school, No.11. Additionally, there were two other Jewish schools. In 1928, along with the Choral Synagogue, 12 synagogues or prayer houses operated in Leningrad. However, their days were already numbered.Disposition of the chapels in Leningrad. The Twenties - the Thirties
Whereas the authorities were more lenient with ethnic societies, many of which they themselves sponsored, religious unions were closely watched. In May, 1929, the Lensoviet Commission reviewed the activity of the Leningrad Religious Community and concluded that the Community's authorities violated regulations that prohibited commerce. The house's maintenance required money, so they levied payment for places in the Synagogue, for using the mikva, for funeral ceremonies. Commission members considered that commerce. The community was accused of establishing a Torah Trial to settle conflicts between Jews (it was considered a usurpation of the State's function). Besides, the community was accused of raising funds to pay the community's managers and of attempts to subordinate all religious establishments within the city.Cover of "Tribuna" journal. 1930
Relying on accusations that the community violated the law, 6 months after the accusations were advanced, the Leningrad Soviet decided to forbid any activity of LERO and to open a criminal case against its managers. It was revealed as well that L.B. Gurevich was simultaneously the chairman of the Synagogue Twenty and the chairman of LERO. That was regarded as an outrage. At first, it was recommended to cancel the contract with the Twenty, but that recommendation was later considered insufficient. The press began a campaign against the community. A new use for the Synagogue's building was soon found; the Jewish Education House was situated there. In January, 1930, "to meet the wishes of the working people", the Leningrad Soviet decreed the closure of the Synagogue. However, because of fear of international protests, as well as in connection with Stalin's article "The Dizziness Of The Successes", the Synagogue was reopened half a year later. Nevertheless, as part of the campaign against religion, by 1936, the remaining synagogues and prayer-houses were closed.The resolution to close Shaarey Zion Synagogue. 1938
Rabbi M.G. Aizenshtadt emigrated from the USSR in 1923. The community greatly respected Rabbi T.D. Katsenelenbogen, who stayed in Leningrad. In spite of his age, he fulfilled his duties until his death in 1930. In 1934, the community's authorities offered the vacant post in the Leningrad Choral Synagogue to Chasidic Rabbi Mendel Gluskin. Rabbi Gluskin accepted. He was motivated not only by a sense of religious duty, but also personal. Mendel Gluskin hoped that his daughters would be able to get an education in the big city even their father was a "cult servant". His hopes were not realized until 1936. However, Mendel Gluskin did not leave Leningrad, although his family had no apartment and his daughters were not allowed to enter any university and could not find a job.Rabbi Mendel Gluskin. Photo
Rabbi Gluskin obtained the respect and recognition of all members of the community, including Mitnagdim who had already lost their former influence in the Leningrad community. In December, 1936, when the new Soviet Constitution was adopted, Mendel Gluskin's daughters entered the university as the Constitution declared the equality of all citizens. Later, all of them became outstanding researchers or pedagogues. Rabbi Gluskin no longer worried about his daughters. They say that a day before his death (in December, 1936) he danced at a Chasidic wedding. Rabbi Mendel Gluskin was buried at the Preobrazhenskoe Cemetery, near the Farewell House.The grave of M. Gluskin on the Jewish cemetery in Leningrad. Photo

Leningrad Jewish family. The early 1930s. Photo
Disposition of the chapels in Leningrad. The Twenties - the Thirties
Cover of "Tribuna" journal. 1930
The resolution to close Shaarey Zion Synagogue. 1938
Rabbi Mendel Gluskin. Photo
The grave of M. Gluskin on the Jewish cemetery in Leningrad. Photo

Leningrad Jewish family. The early 1930s. Photo