Jewish deputies in the Duma
The Jewish population took an active part in the 1906 elections to the State Duma, the first Russian parliament. Among 478 deputies of the First Duma there were twelve Jews plus two converted to Christianity and one Karaime. These were Bramson, Bruk, Chervonenkis, Solomon Frenkel, Iollos, Katsenelson, Levin, Ostrogorsky, Rozenbaum, Sheftel, Vinaver, and Yakubson as well as Gertsenshtein and Zakhar Frenkel. They represented the Jewish population living inside the Pale as well as predominanty Russian areas. By profession, the Jewish deputies were mostly lawyers, men of letters, and physicians. Among them there were two rabbis, Zionist leaders, OPE and ORT activists, and members of the Union for Emancipation of the Jewish Population in Russia. All activities of the Jewish deputies were closely connected with St. Petersburg.
Contrary to widespread opinion, most of the Duma's Jewish deputies belonged to non-socialist parties. In the First Duma, nine Jews were members of the Constitutional Democrats and only three belonged to the Labor Group. They worked in the civil equality, personal immunity, finance, budget and other commissions of the Duma. Nearly all of them signed the Vyborg Appeal, giving up the right to be reelected.
The Second Duma had six Jewish deputies - Abramson, I. Gessen, V. Gessen, Mandelberg, Rabinovich and Shapiro, as well as converted Jew Pergament. All of them (except Social Democrat Mandelberg) belonged to the People's Liberty (Constitutional Democrats) Party.
As a result of changes in the electoral law, representation of the provinces was reduced and it became more difficult for national minorities to send their representatives to the Third Duma. Under conditions of government repression, Jews had been allowed only two representatives in the Third Duma, Nisselovich and Fridman, in addition to the converted Jew Pergament.
In the Fourth Duma, out of 442 deputies, there were three Jewish deputies, Bomash, Gurevich, and Fridman. All three were members of the Constitutional Democrats' fraction.
The Jewish deputies in the Third and Fourth dumas represented cities and regions with the largest Jewish population. In the Duma they fought for Jewish equality and supported all legal endeavors directed toward liberal reform of Russia.
The Taurida Palace where sessions of the State Duma were held