Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Jerusalem Fell: Where Were Jews Allowed to Live? THE PALE OF SETTLEMENT

 Nadene Goldfoot                                                                        
Israel since 1967

Pale of Settlement 1835-1917
Today we have about 14 million Jews in the world or about 0.02% of the population. 6 million live in Israel, 6 million in the USA, and about 2 million are scattered elsewhere, such as in France,  England, Germany and South Africa.  

In 1791, we had about 12 million Jews.  That was  224 years ago.  Since then we have gone through the Holocaust of WWII and have lost 6 million from Europe within about 6 years from 1939 to 1945.

Our lives were always dependent on the good graces of other countries that we found ourselves living in since the year 70 when the Romans had been occupying Judah and had managed to burn down Jerusalem, our biggest population center.  We've wandered from country to country for 2,000 years, chased out as the Christian religious heads decided we either had to convert or leave, often leaving us with no choice as we were targets for slaughter.
RASHI, 1040-1105
Germany was nice when Jews entered around the year 321.  In the 9th century or 1,000, Jews were living in several towns, and by the 10th century they were in Worms, a major center in the Rhineland including Mainz and Speyer, Cologne, etc, that became a center of intellectual life.  .
 Then the Crusades started and killed many, causing Jews to leave and enter countries of eastern Europe, always going north.  Many found themselves living in Poland.  By 1791, there were 5 million Jews in and around Russia.   Catherine the Great was the ruler of the Russian Empire, and she decided to force all Jews to live within the Pale of Settlement, countries designated where Jews were allowed to live.  This would solve her Jewish problem. Now the pale came from the Latin word, palus, which was a stake.  It was inferring an area enclosed by a fence or boundary.  That was it.  Jews couldn't go outside the Pale upon fear of death.  Jews were not allowed to enter the Russian Empire since the early 1500s.  Why?  The Russian Orthodox Church was afraid that Jews would enter and try to convert Christians to Judaism.  Jews hadn't tried to convert anyone for a thousand years.  Thus, the Pale of Settlement.  People are always eager to blame social problems on economics, which plays a part, but basically it always boils down to religious persecution.  Religion has caused much hatred when it is designed to be peaceful.
Not only Jews, but the native population also lived there in the Pale of Settlement.  The native population was not forced out.  The Jews just had to find their own space in there, and so they created little villages or shtetls.    Think of the play and movie, Fiddler on the Roof.   This amounted to 25 provinces of Czarist Russia and included Poland, Lithuania, White Russia (Belorussia-Belarus), Ukraine, Bessarabia (formerly Romanian, now in the Moldavian and Ukrainian republics),  the Crimea, and Latvia.

The native population of the Pale was mainly Catholic while in Russia they were Russian Orthodox.  The Pale's land made up about 20% of Russia's holdings when the Russian Empire  fell in 1917.  "During World War I, the Pale lost its rigid hold on the Jewish population when large numbers of Jews fled into the Russian interior to escape the invading German army. The Pale was finally abolished on March 20/April 2, 1917.   A large portion of the Pale, together with its Jewish population,then became part of Poland.
Nathan Goldfoot b: 1870

Charles, 1st son b: 1906

My grandmother was from Lazdijai, Suwalki, Lithuania which was to become part of Poland, but she always told everyone she was a LITVAK!  She was proud of that as many academics came from Lithuania including the famous Vilna Gaon who was from Vilna, Lithuania. She immigrated to Idaho in about 1904.  The Gaon of Vilna was the Rabbi Eliyahu who was an expert on the Torah.  Her husband, whom she met in Council, Idaho, was from Telsiai, Lithuania,  which never became part of Poland, being in a different section.  He was a Litvak, also.  In 1495, 10,000 Jews were living in Vilna, Grodno and Kovno, Lithuania. Some had entered as early as 1321 and in 1398 those there were mostly Karaites in Troki. 

Today we can trace where our ancestors came from through DNA testing.  My grandmother's female ancestor came from a branch ( mt- haplogroup W) from the Ural mountains where Khazaria lay but before Khazaria was created. My grandmother was W 16145A, 16223T, 16265G, 16519C. Jewish W made up 3.1% in a test in Poland and 2.7% in Russia and Ukraine.  http://www.thecid.com/where.htm

My grandfather's Y-haplogroup Q1b1a or Q-L245) came from  an ancestor 1,000 years ago  and is also found in Arab populations, in Anatolia, modern Iran, and the ancient city of Ur down to Saudi Arabia and Oman..  That covers places where ancient Israel, Judah and Samaria were. On my testing, I show 3% of my DNA coming from the Middle East. it even shows my dna from Italy from a famous Jewish italian family .  Chances are that's how we found we are  from Germany.  Our ancestor left Jerusalem for Rome, then was forced out of Germany and the family eventually landed in Lithuania.  

Latvia's Courland saw Jews living there from the 16th century and 2,000 lived there in 1795 when it was annexed to Russia.  However, in 1835, Courland and Livland were excluded from the Pale of Settlement.  

Poland's Jews came in the 9th century probably from Germany and Bohemia or even from Ukraine's Kiev and the Byzantine Empire.  Those from Khazaria also moved there. This state was powerful from the 8th to 10th centuries.    In 786 to 809  the King Bulan of Khazaria and 4,000 of his nobles converted to Judaism and was assisted in this by Jews living there from other lands who were escaping pogroms and Prince Obadiah.   Supposedly the first charter for Christian- German traders was in 905 who came with Jewish traders.  Then the Tartars invaded in 1240 and 1241 and devastated Poland.  That's when the kings wanted German Jews to enter.  The Christian-German traders were anti-Semitic to the Jews as this was competition in their business.  Then the Christian clergy complained about the growing Jewish population and this led to blood libels in Posen in 1399.  Poland unified with Lithuania in 1569 and Ukraine came under Polish control.  Polish nobles needed someone to manage their large estates and do other administrative jobs, so Jews were invited to live there for this job.  The noble would not be living in the area but headed for more exciting places.  Often the Jewish manager would receive exclusive rights to distill and sell alcohol.  They worked as artisans and merchants. This is when shtetls developed.  

Crimea  It is thought that descendants of the Jewish Khazars probably survived among the Crimea Karaites, the Krimchaks and other Jews of eastern European origin.  It is probably that only the king of Khazaria with a good proportion of the nobility and some of his people became converted.  the Jewish element in Khazaria always constituted a minority.  There was evidence of Jewish settlement here on this peninsula in the Black Sea from the 1st century BCE from several Jewish inscriptions found from succeeding centuries.  From the 7th century to 1117, eastern Crimea was controlled by the Khazars.  They also had a large Karaite population from the 12th century.  Many Jews became Moslems under Tatar rule from the end of the 13th century since Mohammad died in 632.  Jewish captives from Ukraine were sent to Crimea after 1648.  Russia conquered Crimea in 1783 and many Ashkenazi Jews settled here.  

Ukraine:  Jews immigrated to this state in waves from Khazaria, the Caliphate and Byzantium between the 9th and 12th centuries;  from Central Europe in the 14th and 15 centuries; and from Poland in the 16th to 17th centuries. Ukrainian peasants began to resent the taxes they had to pay to their absentee landlords, and it was the Jews who were the collectors for them.  In 1648, horrible massacres of Jews took place during the Chmielnicki and Haidamak uprisings of the 17th and 18th centuries.  The Frankist and Hasidic movements originated here in the 18th century.. During the revolt that lasted for 2 years, about 300 kehillos were destroyed and 100,000Jews were massacred, mostly in very cruel manners.  Jews who survived fled westward with nothing but what they were wearing.  Why is it that people return to places of tragedy?  They did in hopes of a long-term peace and quiet, only to find that this would not happen, even in 2015.  

 Zionism also developed here in Ukraine.  By the 19th century, Jews from Galicia and Belarus  moved here.  Ukraine has always been an anti-Semitic center. Pogroms took place in 1905 and as late as 1918 to 1920 after WWI  Yet, the Soviet government promoted Jewish settlement in the Ukraine in the 1920s using funds from the American Joint Distribution committee in Kalinindorf, Zlatopol and Stalindorf.  By 1930 there were 90,000 Jewish agriculturists there, waiting to be slaughtered in the coming Nazi takeover and war against the Jews. About half of Soviet Russia's 3 million Jews lived in Ukraine before WWII.    During WWII, the native population were about as bad in their acts against the Jews as the Nazis were.  From 1941 and 1942, the Jews were wiped out by the Germans and Ukrainians. Some 900,000 were murdered.   Somehow, the Jewish population bounced back by 1970 and 777,126 were living there.  by 1989 it had dropped to 484,129.  Russia and Ukraine are at it again which began last year.  Some of Ukraine's present 100,000 Jews seriously consider leaving.  Since they've gone through so much in the past 1,000 years, one wonders if they will be leaving for Israel soon.  226 Jews left from Kiev  for Israel already.  " They joined more than 5,000 Ukrainian Jews who have moved to Israel last year, about 1,300 of them from eastern areas claimed by separatists." Many came from the eastern city of  Luhansk.
Jerusalem, unified city and capital of Israel where all religions are allowed to worship
Now Israeli Jews live on  8,000 square miles, and when they build on land that their legal experts swear is theirs after winning the 1967 Six Day War from attacking neighboring countries which allows them to build in Judea and Samaria, their original land as ordained by G-d, and where they were living in 70 CE when the Romans came and occupied their land and then burned down Jerusalem, the world shudders at those "terrible Jews".   Perhaps they are also shuddering at the modernity and beauty of what Jews are creating in Israel, which had lain in waste for 2,000 years in the hands of previous empires yearning for the return of the Jews who loved it.  

Reference:  http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/pale.html
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia
The Jewish Press, May 8, 2015, feature section insert, Beyond the Pale.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/fleeing-their-countrys-civil-war-ukrainian-jews-head-for-israel/2014/12/24/f79fb866-8619-11e4-b9b7-b8632ae73d25_story.html  December 25, 2014


  1. so amazing is the story of the jews. that homeland is theirs by Promise and that Promise will be kept. no more wandering. no more being driven away. jerusalem the holy city will be the citadel of peace one day.
    now that i know something of my jewish roots in my genealogy i know my heritage is part of that story too. very ancient is how far back it goes in what i have come to understand but nonetheless is part of me-right up to today. i love the Lord and His Word. It can never return to Him void. He will preserve israel the people and the land. it is Him against all odds that has planted her there again. the threats are very real but God will establish her as never before and for all time. i love that statement.....BUT GOD..........a theme in the Bible over and over again. He is worthy of our trust-----like none other.

  2. Yes, it hit me today that this article starts with Jerusalem and ends with Jerusalem with 2,000 years in between. I hope the heads of state can understand this is no common city that we will trade parts of easily. We just got it back through blood and tears and will not part with it again. Can the USA give away part of Los Angeles to Mexico. There isn't even a religious reason for that to be against their judgement. Good that you discovered your roots. It's thrilling to understand all our ancestors have gone through to bring us to this very day.