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Encyclopaedia Judaica

Persecution of the Jews: Pale of Settlement 03:

The constant discrimination of the Jews by the czar in the 19th century

Jewish children for the army (Cantonists) - border restriction of 50 versts - five "classes" law - exemptions for "educated" Jews - discrimination movement against all minorities in the 1870s

from: History; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, vol. 8

presented by Michael Palomino (2007)

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[1827: Cantonist rule in the Pale of Settlement splits Jewry]

Several developments in Eastern Europe between the 1860s and 1880s led to a considerable radicalization in the ideology of the youth and a marked cleavage within Jewish society; on the other hand, through the selfsame developments, they led to greater similarity in social structure and the problems facing Western Jewry. The demand of the Russian government (1827) requiring the Jewish community in most of the Pale of Settlement to supply youngsters as *Cantonists for prolonged Russian army service gave rise to much bitterness within the communities between the leading circles, who were responsible for mustering the quota, and the lower strata, who suspected the former of evading this onerous duty in the case of their own children and putting it on the children of the poor.

Jewish society as a whole was embittered toward the tyrannical government of Russia that used army service as a means of bringing about the assimilation of young boys.

[1835: Border restriction in the Pale of Settlement - conversion stimulations - agriculture settlements in the south]

The government of Czar *Nicholas I again put forward a constitution for the Jews in 1835. Apart from exclusion of the paragraph concerning expulsion from the villages, this constitution was a summary of former disabilities, including a prohibition on Jewish residence within 50 versts (33 miles) (col. 721)

of the western border. The constitution promised various alleviations for Jews turning to Russian culture, again a continuation of former policies. Thousands of Jewish families applied for agricultural settlement, and many were settled in the south.

[1840: Anti-Jewish decision of a "new commission" for the Pale of Settlement]

In 1840 a new commission for research into the Jewish legal status and existence was set up. Both the premises it worked on and the decisions arrived at had a markedly anti-Jewish bias.

[1844-1855: New clothing laws and classification in five "classes" for Jews in the Pale of Settlement]

Czar Nicholas I also attempted to enforce changes in Jewish education and dress; he abolished Jewish kahal autonomy in 1844, and planned to classify the Jewish population into five classes, according to their "usefulness". This project, as well as his cruel policy toward the Jews, was abandoned after his death in 1855.

[since 1855: Less discrimination of professionally educated Jews - exemptions from discrimination - life outside of the Pale of Settlement]

Czar *Alexander II attempted the solution of the Jewish problem, again on the basis of discrimination between Jews but in this case through showing favor toward small professionally educated groups of Jews, with the aim of bringing by their example the general Jewish population to which no alleviation was granted - to the main road of general culture and productivization.

During the 1860s various groups of such Jews were granted various exemptions from anti-Jewish discriminatory legislation, the main prize being the permission to live outside the Pale of Settlement. This right was granted to Jewish merchants who paid the highest scale of tax, to Jews who had academic diplomas, and, in 1865, to Jewish craftsmen.

[1870s: Discrimination movement against minorities in Russia abolishes all progress - 1878: Congress of Berlin without effect]

This trend was not continued in the 1870s, while public opinion as well as state policy turned against minorities in Russia in general, and Jews in particular.

Only in *Rumania [[Romania]] was the Jewish status and Jewish existence even worse than in czarist Russia. The intervention of the Congress of *Berlin in 1878 in favor of Jews in the Balkan states, and chiefly of those in Rumania [[Romania]], helped them only formally, but not in actual practice.> (col. 722)

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Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): History,
                          vol. 8, col. 721-722
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): History, vol. 8, col. 721-722

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