Saturday, February 16, 2013

When Jews Lived in Russia

                                             1559   Fortified synagogue in Husiatyn, Russia                    
Nadene Goldfoot
300 CE Since the Babylonian captivity, Jews were led to Armenia and Georgia, parts of Russia.  Records from the 4th Century show that 10,000 to 30,000 Jews lived in settlements in the Crimea.  Nebuchadnezzar II inherited the Assyrian Empire and took Judah in 597 BCE, exiling many Jews to Babylonia.  The Ten Tribes of Israel were exiled previously and some were still there in Babylonia.

700-800 CE Under the influence of the Caucasian Jewish communities, Khazaria's  Bulan, the Khagan Bek (King)  of the Khazars (White Ugrians) , and the ruling classes of Khazaria,  about 4,000 of his nobles , adopted Judaism at some point in the mid-to-late 8th or early 9th centuries. It was the Royal House that converted. It was also the Royal House that intermarried with that of Byzantium.     After the overthrow of the Khazarian kingdom by Svialoslav I of Kiev  (969), Khazar Jews may have fled in large numbers to the Crimea, the Caucasus, and the Russian principality of Kiev which was formerly a part of the Khazar territory.   It is thought that descendants of the Khazar Jews probably survived among the Crimea Karaites, the Krimchaks, and other Jews of eastern European origin. Khazaria was located in what is now Ukraine, southern Russia and Kazakhstan.

986 CE:  Duke Vladimir the Great living in Kiev converted to Christianity.  Jews participated in  a disputation whereas he wanted to convert all of the Kiev population as well.    He also consulted with Jewish envoys (who may or may not have been Khazars), and questioned them about their religion but ultimately rejected it, saying that their loss of Jerusalem was evidence of their having been abandoned by G-d.

1000's-1100's  Jews appear to have occupied a separate quarter in Kiev, known as the Jewish town (Old Ruthenian Жидове, Zhidove, i.e. "The Jews"), the gates probably leading to which were known as the Jewish gates (Old Ruthenian Жидовская ворота, Zhidovskaya vorota).
1083  Khazaria's power broken on the Volga by Russian archduke Yaroslav..
1100's Kiev had a Jewish gate that led to the Jewish Quarter.
1113 Jewish Quarter in Kiev was looted.  Jews were attending western yeshivot and spoke with German rabbis.  
1400's Jewish traders from Lithuania disseminated a Judaizing sect ( were spreading such as sowing seed) in Novgorod and Moscow causing drastic reaction.  It sounds like they were converting people to Judaism.  
1550  Clauses in treaties with foreign powers said that Jews could not visit the country.
1563 Jews refused to be baptised into Christianity so 300 were drowned at Polotsk and Vitebsk.
1667 Jews were expelled from Eastern Ukraine when it was annexed to Russia. 
1678 Clauses in treaties again said that Jews could not visit Ukraine.
1727 Jews expelled from land
1738 Jews expelled from land
1742 Jews expelled from land.
1753   35,000 Jews driven out of Russia
1762 Catherine II allowed all aliens to live in Russia except Jews. 
1772, 1793, 1795: Poland was partitioned and Jews from White Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania and Courland became Russian subjects.  and were ruled by the Czars for over 100 years.  
1786: Jews restricted to towns, foundation of Pale of Settlement 
1795). (Karaites had equality with Christians)
1802 Council for Jewish Affairs from authority of Derzhavin report on White Russia
1804 Council defined Pale of Russia restricting Jews to villages
1807-1808 Limited activities of the Kahal in religion and charity, prohibited traditional Jewish costume, promoted agriculture
1812 Napoleon invaded Russia
1801-1825 life of Alexander I, benevolent at first to Jews, then turned reactionary, 20,000 Jews expelled from Vitebsk and Mohilev.
1824 Jews remaining  in these provinces were forbidden to live near the frontier.  600 oppressive enactments for Jews published during reign of Nicholas I who thought they were injurious element.
1827 Jews imposed with military service.
1835 Frontier of the Pale of Settlement restricted until  1915.  
1836 Jewish books censored.
1844 Kahal was abolished  Alexander II tried to Russify the Jews by education and relaxed restrictions.  65,000 Russian Jews were engaged in agriculture.  Jews became prominent in economics, culture and left-wing politics; social anti-Semitism now began to replace the former religious prejudices.
1880's Mass immigration of Jews to America, Palestine
1881 Alexander II assassisnated.  May Laws enacted
1891 Jews expelled from Moscow and clauses were into high schools and secondary schools.  Jews turned to Zionism, Socialism.
1897 Bund founded and the revolutionary movement.  
1905 Organization founded advocating equal Jewish rights
1906 12 Jewish deputies elected to the Duma from Liberal Party. Anti Semitism showed up with Beilis case, a Blood Libel.  
1917 WWI, 5,600,000 Jews lived in the Empire of Czars (including about 2 million in Poland).  Those living near war zones were deported.  300,000 Jews were in the Russian army.  Jews were scapegoats after war and were expelled from Kovno, Grodno, Courland.  Not allowed to print Hebrew or Yiddish.  
April 2, 1917 government abrogated all anti-Jewish decrees.  Jews were then in Kerensky regime and later in Bolshevik Revolution (Trotsky, Zinoviev, Sverdloy).  
1918 Jewish departments in commissariats of national affairs and education.  
April 1919, Soviet government abolished the non communist Jewish institutions.  Civil War with pogroms, Soviet government proclaimed anti-Semitism a criminal offense. 
1921-29 Jewish economic position improved.  Jews were settled on land to encourage agriculture (Komzet) in Ukraine, Crimea and Biro-Bidian.  American Jewish Agricultural Corporation  supplied the means for settlement.  
1930 Efforts made to discourage Jewish practices, Purges caused Jews to be removed.  
1940 WWII annexation of White Russia, W. Volhynia, E Galicia, N Bukovina, Bessarabia, Lithuania and Latvia led to mass deportation of Jews, especially the intelligentsia, from these regions.  .  
1941, Nazis invaded Russia, aimed at exterminating the Jewish population.  Of the 500,000 Jews in White Russia, half escaped to the interior and 200,000 were slaughtered.  

Resource: The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia
The Jews of Khazaria 2nd edition by Kevin Alan Brook


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