Just after the October Revolution, the new regime still tolerated the existence of old Jewish educational establishments, although the authorities intervened in their affairs. At the beginning of 1919, the Jewish Department of the Commissariat of Nationality Affairs of the Communes of the Northern Region developed a plan that included: organizing schools, kindergartens, children's playgrounds and labor colonies, establishing small proletarian theaters, organizing courses to study the social sciences, and lectures. However, since the Commissariat also carried out management duties, including the financial sphere, and directed all measures ideologically, all teachers and tutors were selected under its monitoring. Since many Jews came to Petrograd in the years of Civil War, the number of Jewish children's homes, schools and kindergartens increased and they operated until 1923.
The new regime began developing its own conception of Jewish education. That conception excluded an ethnic component from education. By the end October, 1918, Jewish schools belonging to OPE, to the Society for Providing Education to the Children of Poor Jews in the Peskovskii District, and to Ivrio were nationalized. That society had to be registered with the Jewish Section of the Department of Ethnic Schools of the Commissariat of People's Education within a week and had to present correct data about the number of the pupils, about expenses and income, as well as an inventory of property. On March 1, 1919, an order of Narkomnats arrived at the Jewish Department of the Petrograd Commissariat of People's Education. It directed that the salaries of Tanakh teachers be excluded from the school budget, as Tanakh was a religious discipline. Beside Tanakh, Hebrew was also excluded (as the language of clerics), as was Jewish history was excluded.
Gradually, as a result of consolidation, only four Jewish ethnic schools and one children's home remained in the city. The first Jewish institution of higher education founded by David Gunzburg was also completely dependent on the authorities. When all the main donors of Jewish education had emigrated, the OPE, heavily monitored by the authorities, could no longer finance it. Nevertheless, in February, 1919, Petrograd Jewish University renewed its operation in a home on Angliyskaya Embankment, the former mansion of Yakov Polyakov. The program and teaching plans remained unchanged. Beside old professors (S.M. Dubnov, M.I. Kulisher), Yu.I. Gessen, S.L. Tsinberg, A.Z. Shteinberg, G.Ya. Admoni-Krasniy came to work in the university. S.G. Lozinsky was appointed rector.
On July 2, 1921, the Department of Education of Ethnic Minorities of Narkompros ordered the nationalization of Petrograd Jewish University and presented its regulations to the Academic Center of the Narkomat for consideration. In August, 1922, the university was renamed the Petrograd Institute of Higher Jewish Knowledge, as Narkompros demanded. The hours of teaching in Yiddish were increased, while the hours of teaching in Hebrew and some Jewish disciplines were decreased. By March, 1923, the institute was reorganized again. It was renamed the Higher Courses of Jewish Knowledge. Tanakh and Talmud were excluded from the program, and dialectic materialism and the history of the Jewish labor movement were included instead. Six months later, the courses were renamed the Petrograd (later, Leningrad) Institute of Jewish History and Literature. They existed in that form until 1926, when the institute was closed.
The building of Commissariat of People Education with Jewish Department. Photo