Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Escaping the Romans But Coming to the Pale of Settlement in Poland

Nadene Goldfoot                                                
1850:  Jewish couple in the Pale of Settlement

Jerusalem fell to the Romans in 70 CE. Jews were taken as slaves to Rome, or killed in battle.  Some escaped and got to the Rhineland (especially to Worms) -later to be called Germany, Bohemia (Czechoslovakia) , or further north into the Kingdom of Kiev (Ukraine) and the land that was taken by the Byzantine Empire.(originally the Eastern Roman Empire-capital in Constantinople.  Jews lived in this empire until 1453 when the Turks conquered it.
Rashi, 1040-1105, biblical commentator of Troyes, France who studied
in Worms, Germany
Jews were forced to wear badges of identification as a Jew.  
By the time of the Dark Ages,  from the 5th to 10th centuries, Jews were known as traders who helped to open up the area to civilizing influences.  The first charter in Poland  given to Jews was granted in 905.  Polish coins of the 12th and 13th centuries were struck by Jewish mint-masters that had Hebrew inscriptions on them.
13th century style for Jews in Germany; dunce caps for
a most intelligent people.  
The Tartars invaded in 1240 and devastated Poland.  Kings then encouraged the immigration of merchants from Germany in order to restore their economy, and of course most were Jews who also brought their Yiddish language with them.  They had a passionate devotion to Talmud study that dominated Polish Jewry.  A charter of protection was issued by Boleslaw the Pious in 1264 that was a model for others.  It was extended by Casimir the Great to all of Poland by the Statute of Kalisz in 1334, to White Russia and Little Poland in 1364, and to Lithuania in 1388.  The charters regulated legal conditions, the framework  of economic employment, judicial suits between Jews and Christians, safeguards of Jewish life and property, freedom of trade, etc.
In Austrian Galicia,: Kolomea, Jewish man

The German traders brought in anti-Jewish attitudes and the growth of the Jewish population led to complaints from the clergy.  Therefore, Vladislaus Jagiello in 1386 to 1434 refused to confirm the Jewish privileges.  Blood Libels at Posen in 1399 and Cracow in 1407, a religious furor charging a host desecration in 1400, and the next year an anti-Jewish riot begun by students in Cracow.  By 1454, the Jewish privileges were abolished, with attacks on the Jews happening in many cities; Cracow, Lvov, and Posen where they were looked upon by other merchants as economic competitors.  In other places Jews were expelled, such as in Warsaw in 1483 and Cracow in 1491.
Notice this Jewish woman's yellow badge. 
Even so, with attacks and legal restrictions, the Jews played an important part in commerce.
Things improved by the 16th century under the liberal Sigismund from 1500 to 1548 and by Sigismund II Augustus from 1548 to 1572 when Jewish revenue collectors, bankers, physicians, etc, occupied key positions iin the economic and political life.  Poland had become a renowned center of rabbinic study and its talmudic scholars profoundly affected Jewry as a whole.  The foundations were laid for the Autonomy of the organized communities such as Kehillot, a Jewish organization.
16th century Jewish man in Worms, Germany
And the everlasting yellow badge he is forced to wear
The Jews, not forgetting their protective charters, appealed for royal protections and received agreements and concessions.  Stephen Bathory from 1576 to 1586 confirmed Jewish privileges and sharply attacked Blood Libel accusations.

A Counter-Reformation reaction set in under his successor, Sigismund III from 1587 to 1632 who nevertheless, protected Jews from Church persecutions going on by the Jesuits.  The villages were affected where the Jewish lessees were exploited by the nobles to oppress the peasants, especially in the Ukraine which was under Polish rule then.   The leasing of estates became a major source of livelihood, and the lessees hired many other Jews as subordinates.

This was one of the causes of massacres going on at the time of the CHMIELNICKI UPRISING from 1648 to 1649.  which destroyed hundreds of communities.This Cossack leader, Bogdan Chmielnicki, died in 1657, but in 1648 had led the rising of Cossacks and Ukrainian masses against Polish landowners, the Catholic clergy and the Jews.  Hundreds of thousands of Jewes were slaughtered.  Only those who had accepted baptism were spared.  744 Jewish communities were wiped out.  The horror they caused sent a shock throughout Jewry and caused a messsianic impulse to grow for Shabbetai Tzevi.  Ukrainians unfortunately regarded Chmielnicki as a national hero.
During the latter 17th century, the kings of Poland tried to foster the rehabilitation of the Jewish communities but were frustrated by the general anti-Jewish atmosphere.  Economic restrictions, pogroms, Ritual Murder charges kept happening.

It became even worse under the Saxon kings in 1697 to 1763.  ( the Elective Monarchy, that is the election of Kings by all nobles assembled in a field outside Warsaw, was certainly disruptive. The first such election took place in 1572 after the death of last male of the Jagiellonian dynasty, when the nobles elected Henry Valois of France, who had to recognize the rights of the Polish nobles, that is: (a) recognize all existing noble rights; (b) agree to do nothing without the consent of the nobles in parliament, and (c) sanction religious toleration for Protestants in both Poland and in France. (Henry soon left to ascend the French throne.) Royal elections were not always for individual candidates; thus the Vasa dynasty had three elected Polish kings between 1587 and 1672, while two rulers of Saxony, father and son, were elected Kings in 1697 and 1733).  This was 

 when there was a series of Ritual Murder trials, attempts at forced conversions, expulsions, riots, etc.  Thousands of Jews were killed in the HAIDAMAK  Cossack disorders of 1768 in the Ukraine.

First, there was Catherine I, the Russian Empress who ruled from 1725 to 1727.  In May 1727 she expelled all Jews resident in Little Russia.  This order was countermanded after her death.  At this time, Catherine II (the Great) came into power in Russia in 1762 to 1796.  Her Jewish policy was marked by a combination of liberalism and coercion.  Jews were allowed to register in merchant and urban classes in 1780, but permission was restricted to White Russia (Belorussia)in 1786, marking the beginning of the Pale of Settlement.  . Jews went from Poland to Belorussia.  They lived in Grodno in the 12th century, at Brest-Litovsk by the 14th century, and at Pinsk from 1506.   By 1791, she had created the Pale of Settlement, known as THE PALE. The Pale of Settlement held 4,899,300 Jews or 11.6% of the population.   In European Russia outside the Pale of Settlement were 211,200 Jews or 0.4% of the population.  Total Jewish population in Russia was 5,215,800 or 4.15% of the population.  Outside in Asia were 48,500 Jews or 0.4%.  In Caucasia were 56,800 or 0.6% of the population.  She prevented the extension of Jewish settlement and in 1795 prohibited Jewish residence in rural areas.  

 It was made up of 25 provinces of Czarist Russia;  Poland, Russia, Lithuania, White Russia, Ukraine, Bessarabia and Crimea where Jews were permitted permanent residence.  Permission to live outside the Pale was granted only to certain groups-members of the liberal professions with a high school diploma, big businessmen, skilled artisans, and ex-Cantonists.  The fate of Jews outside the Pale depended on decisions made by the local governor.

Poland was partitioned from 1772 to 1795.  Land was divided up between Prussia, Russia and  the hababurgs.  By 1793 it was partitioned again between Prussia and Russia.  Again they partitioned it off in 1795 bwettn Prussia, Russia and the Habsburgs.  Frontiers were established in 1795 and of the Holy Roman Empire.

 In 1815, the Congress Poland was established.  From time to time, the borders were restricted for governmental reasons.  They used an oppressive STATUTE CONCERNING THE JEWS of 1835.  By 1882, the MAY LAWS came into being. This legislation was enacted by the Russian government on May 3, 1882 that prohibited Jews from living or acquiring property except in towns in the Pale of Settlement.   Jews were excluded from rural areas inside the Pale.  As a result of such restrictions, Jewish economic developement was severely hampered.  Think of Tevia and his cows.  He couldn't continue.  By 1900, the Pale had Lithuania's Suwalki area populated by 59,200.  Vilna had 204,700.  Kovno had 212,700.  Vitebsk had 175,600.  Belorussia's Minsk had 345,000.  Mogilev had 203,900.  Grodno had 280,000.  In Poland, Kiele had 83,200, Lublin had 156,200.  Kiev in Ukraine had 433,700.  Podolia had 370,600.  The total of Ukraine was 1,425,500 or 9.7% of the total population.
Jewish peddler in New York-early 1900s.  Many businessmen started off this way.
Meir and Franks of Portland, Oregon started as peddlers.  My grandfather was
a peddler with one horse., probably much like this, beard and all.
       However, most Jews immigrated in the 1900s to 1920s to the USA.  It wasn't happening much at all in the late 1880s.  One place, however, was receiving Jews at this point and that was the 1st aliyah to Palestine.  Four more followed.

The May Laws were revoked in 1915 after World War I had started, but only legally in March 1917, after the Russian Revolution and War had ended.  These laws were the cause of recurrent local expulsions, intolerable overcrowding, and blocking of economic opportunities.
Tevia the milkman, getting ready to leave for America By 1924,
Jews could no longer get into the USA as there were limits on their population.  
 It was no wonder that Jews left in mass from Russia in the 1900s for America.  Think of it.  From 1882 to 1917 was 35 years of hell, a total lifetime for some.
On the Exodus, trying to get to Palestine in 1947.  
Resource: The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia
Hal Bookbinder's paper on the Pale

1 comment:

  1. thanks for another history lesson nadene.
    sadly it has been a history that has been mostly nearly non-stop persecution of the jews in one form or another or many forms all at once.
    one day the nations will come to the jewish people on their knees, sorry for all the mistreatment and give the jews long over-due honor before the whole world. the Bible describes this in several passages.
    what a day that will be...