Eastern European Jewry
Jews in the "Pale of Settlement"

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From the Herald-Republican, Salt Lake City, Utah, Sunday, June 26, 1910.

by B. T. Marshall

Museum Note: Kiev is also know as Kiev and today is known as Kyyiv. Also, the Pardoll District is known as the Podol District.

A Row of Jewish Shops in Kief.
A Row of Jewish Shops in Kief.


The Land of the Bear has another anti-Semitic horror. The excuse in the proclamation was "that numbers of Jews had settled in Kief without permission." This city forms a part of what is known as the "Jewish pale," where this race is allowed to reside, and since the great massacre of 1881 the Jews have been allowed to live in comparative peace in Kief. They now control the best shops, factories, theatres, etc., and the Russian merchant has very likely complained to the government that the obnoxious Jew "is ruining business and will soon own the land if he is not made to feel the lash."

The persecution of the Jews in Russia has always been for commercial rather than religious reason. His aptitude for making money is the real cause of his persecution, although the degenerate, illiterate Russian, whose religion is only a superstition, is taught to believe that the Jews steal Christian children and use them for sacrifice at the Passover, that they stone religious processions and insult the sacred icons of the Russian church. This talk with a few bottles of vodka, the vile drink which has besotted the Russian peasants, will lead to a Jewish massacre at any time.

The Cossack, the Soldier who is a Terror to the Jew in Russia.  

Only those who have visited Russia can fully understand the conditions there. The average Russian looks upon a Jew as unworthy of the consideration of a human being, and believes that strenuous measures should be taken to keep him under control. To be sure, there are a few Russians who have protested against the horrible atrocities which have been practiced in Russia, and some of these are today paying for their protests by languishing in Russian prisons branded as enemies to the holy czar and revolutionists against the government.

The Jew is the merchant and moneylender of the country. Russian has seen her thousands of peasants pauperized by officials and then brought on the verge of starvation by the Jewish moneylender, who encourages the peasant to borrow even on his unplanted crops. These crops are a failure frequently through the peasants' own laziness. Somebody must answer for these conditions, so it falls on the Jew, and a "pogrom," as these massacres are termed, follows. The horrible atrocities of these massacres are too well known to need repetition here.

The Cossack, that splendid specimen of mankind, who comes from the Caucasus away over in the Ural Mountains to serve the czar, is generally on hand and does the main part of the terrible work. To him the Jew is the same as a mad dog, and is treated with less consideration than a dangerous animal. Russia keeps a regiment of these men in Warsaw and sends the Polish soldiers to some other quarter of the empire.

photo: The Cossack, the soldier who is a terror to the Jew in Russia.


The more one studies the surroundings of the Russian Jews, their few liberties and their ostracism the more one is impressed with the remarkable character of this race, which has preserved its wonderful individuality in the face of all the disasters they have passed through during the last nineteen hundred years--a nation without a country, scattered over the four quarters of the globe, yet preserving the distinctive qualities of a nation which has produced some of the greatest men in all the walks of life. There is no better place to study Jewish life than in the Pardoll district of Kief or in Warsaw. In both these places one may study the thriftiness of the Jewish trader, how he sells at large profits if he can, at small ones if he must, but sell he will. His dickering with customers and his cajoling methods are far more evidence there than they are in this country. "Barking" is the fashion, and the visitor who strays into the market at Pardoll will have to make a purchase or fight his way out.  

Everything on Sale in the Jewish Market in the Pardoll District of Kief.

Everything on Sale in the Jewish Market
in the Pardoll District of Kief.

 The Jewish market in Warsaw is remarkable, too, for it is always crowded and a veritable beehive of activity. It was here during December, 1881, that the "pogrom" began, and today the Russian will tell you that it is a favorite lace for "Jew sticking," as the murder of a Jew is called in the Russian empire. Somehow, the year 1881 seems to have been a black one for the Jews there, although it was the first year of the "gentile system," inaugurated by M. Pobiedonostseff. No fewer than 167 towns and villages witnessed scenes of savagery which would seem impossible in the nineteenth century. Scores of Jewish women were dishonored, hundreds of men, women and children were slaughtered and thousands made homeless. Yet the Jew continues to live and, in many instances, get rich in this awful country.

In Odessa, where the business is practically in the hands of the Jews, a Russian was questioned about the race there. "They are a dangerous people," he said, with a mysterious air. "You may beat a Jew, you may burn his house, you may kill his family, yet he will get on. To be sure, he will whine and wail for a while; then he will look out for business. Why, during the riots in Odessa one who kept a cigar store was literally cleaned out, his family was killed and his shop and home burned, and he himself was badly wounded, but somehow he managed to save a few packages of cigarettes, and when the riot was over he appeared on the ruins of his home offering the cigarettes for sale, and soon he had a little stand, and in a month he had a small shop. Today he is the proprietor of one of the largest cigar stores in Odessa. This simply illustrates their energy, and if Russia does not once in a while let them feel her power and keep in check their rapacity they would practically own the land. You Americans, I know, condemn our actions, but you do not understand the situation, but you will if our Jews keep on going to America." Again and again the antagonism toward the Jew's business ability crops out.

There is a class of Jews in Russia who to further their business interests have joined the Russian church. These people are ostracized by Russian as well as Jew, and their money brings them little pleasure.

Russia is a Jew country, for of the 11,000,000 of Jews who inhabit the world over half are in the czar's domain, not from choice, but because the annexation of Poland made them subjects of the "Little Father." During the Middle Ages Poland was the land of refuge for the Hebrew race. According to the laws of the land the Jewish subjects must live within the "Pale," which comprises Poland and fifteen of the adjoining provinces. A limited number, however, are permitted to live outside the "Pale"--merchants who belong to the Guild and who pay about $450 for that privilege. This would not be an exorbitant tax were it not for the fact that the Jewish businessman is continually blackmailed by Russian officials, for bleeding a Jew is always legitimate in Russia. With all these drawbacks, some of the finest shops, both in Moscow and St. Petersburg, are kept by Jews and their beautiful homes are ornaments to both these cities.  

Typical Russian Jews.
Typical Russian Jews.

Those who have for twenty-five years served as soldiers may live outside the "Pale." Students of high educational institutions, apothecaries, dentists, surgeons and midwives, as well as skilled artisans, are allowed to live in certain sections. These walks of life include but a small number of persons for it is exceedingly difficult for a Jew to meet the requirements and qualifications of these classes to the satisfaction of the Russian government. A thousand and one obstacles are placed in the way of the applicant. For instance, only ten per cent of the students of a university are allowed to be of the Jewish race and these are admitted only after a most rigid examination--something not exacted of the Russian students. In some of the best schools the number allowed is from three to five per cent. It may be added that the Jewish students are sure to carry off the honors if given any sort of an opportunity to compete with the Russian. Despite all these stringent regulations to keep them in ignorance the Jewish people on the whole receive a far better education than the Russian peasant.

When the boys of the Jewish families are between the age of five and six years they are sent to the Cheder, a sort of private Jewish school. Here the child studies until he is of age, which in the case of the Russian Jew is thirteen years. If his family is very poor, the boy must sometimes leave before that age and become apprenticed to a trade. Many of the wealthiest Jews send their sons to England and Germany to be educated and to learn the languages, for the study of foreign languages in the Cheder has recently been forbidden by the Czar. The girls are not so fortunate unless they are of rich parentage, in which case they are educated at home. Even the poorest class is industrious, and at fourteen are good housewives, besides earning a few pennies by sewing or making gloves, etc., for factories. They marry early n life, often at fifteen. There are few old maids among the Jews in Russia and a mother is greatly distressed when she finds herself with an unmarried daughter who is over twenty-five years of age.

The Satchem (the professional matchmaker) is found all over Jewish Russia. His business is to bring together young couples who are suitable for marriage. The father of the bride must give her a dowry commensurate with the money the bridegroom is able to furnish. For instance, a clerk will sometimes require a dowry of two hundred rubles, while a watchmaker and jeweler would receive six hundred rubles (about $300). It is remarkable how happily the marriages turn out, for divorces are few and the wife is a help to her husband in whatever walk of life they may live. She is somewhat of a gossip, but she makes a devoted mother, and her family is usually a large one. In the smaller towns she assists her husband in the shop and makes an excellent saleswoman.

The Jew, as I said before, is the merchant and manufacturer of Russia. The greater part of woolen stuffs used in Russia are from Jewish factories. Cotton and linen stuff, glass, iron, leather--in fact, the handling of any line of goods for which there is a market comes under the Jew's line of work. He is the moneylender, too, of the land, and makes his money by doing business with the poorer class. The Russian aristocracy need not apply to him unless they are willing to leave valuable jewelry and plate as security. Nicholas the Second is liberal with his ukases, and he is likely at any time to order the members of the aristocracy to repudiate all debts to Jews that bear interest higher than two and a half cents. So the Jew moneylender does not care for aristocratic clientage.

Military service is irksome to the Jew, but serve he must, or pay continual "hush money." However, 15,000 of he race died in the defense of Russia while that country was at war with Japan, and as many more were wounded. A soldier's pay is too small to attract a Jew, and Russia has done little to foster the patriotic spirit within him. If he goes into the army, however, you will find him a private secretary to some officer or drawing plans and making maps. He is more useful to Russia here than the Russian, because he is better educated. Here, too, he is ill-treated, because he will be required to do extra work for the officers, whose petty meanness crops out when he offers the Jewish soldier a piece of pork in payment for the work when he knows full well that the Jew will not accept. The Jewish soldier really eats no army food, and usually manages to get his meals at the home of a Jew.

The homes of the poorer class of Jews in Russia are not always attractive, as they are generally filthy and emit the most nauseating odors. This people are clannish, and huddle together as if expecting persecution. The sanitary conditions all over Russia are bad, and it is only the six months of intensely cold weather which keeps out a pestilence. The Jews are not allowed to bathe in the rivers and lakes, and fashionable watering places will not receive them. They are compelled to live in certain quarters of the cities, no matter in what condition of health they may be, and if they wish to consult a physician in a distant town they may only do so by permission of the czar. No government positions are open to him, and every effort is made to smother Jewish enterprise, yet he thrives and seems ever ready to help his own people. He gives without ostentation, and the name of the donor is kept secret, the charitable work being managed by the rabbis.

As to religion, the Jew keeps strictly to the letter and Jewish factories and stores are closed on their Sabbath day. Many of them make pilgrimages to Jerusalem. The Jew has great difficulty in obtaining a passport, and usually pays several times the regular price, especially if he is found to be a little prosperous. He is not a drinker, and a drunken Jew in Russia is a rara avis. He is not quarrelsome, and his disputes with his neighbors are generally settled quietly by his rabbi, in whom he has implicit faith.

When spoken to in reference to the desire of the Jew to immigrate to the United States, a Russian declared that they could do as they pleased there and were under no restraint. Then he added: "They really prefer Russia to America, and only leave because their lives are not safe her. If they were sure of protection you could not drag them away. They know that the ignorant Russian is an easier prey for their money-lending games than anybody in educated America."

Conditions have proved that his statement was correct in some respects, for during the year 1907, when there were several anti-Semitic riots in Russia, 258,493 immigrants came to America from the czar's domain, the majority of whom were Jews. The year 1908 was comparatively quite in Russia, and fewer Jews than usual were executed. Emigration from there at once decreased--only 156,711 arriving at our ports during the year 1908--a falling off of over 102,000.






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