Soviet Jewry

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Pale of Settlement

“In 1772 the partitioning of Poland was begun, and by the end of the century, while a large portion of Polish-Galician Jewry found itself under Austrian domination, most of the Jews of Easter Europe were now subjects of the Russian Empire.” Works Cited: Source 6 Just as under Polish rule, the Jews suffered from legal limitations. Catherine of Russia were expected to reside within the Pale of Settlement, where poverty was rampant. In order to live in Russia proper, they needed special permission.

In 1827, Nicolas I began recruiting Jews into the Russian military. Quotas were set on Jewish communities, and the leader, usually the rabbi, selected who would be recruited. Often young boys, also know as Cantonists, were taken and served military sentences sometimes until their mid-ages.

There are many factors for the mass emigration of Russian Jews to America between 1880 and 1920. Besides for anti-Semetism from inside and outside the Russian government, Russia’s weak economy was a strong reason. Along with that, America, New York in particular was considered to have an economic boom. By the turn of the century well over half of the eastern European Jews arriving in New York came from urban centers and could be categorized as skilled or semi skilled workers. Official immigration figures for the period 1899-1914 reveal that 40 percent of all Jewish arrivals had been employed in the clothing industry.” Works Cited: Source 1

During the Holocaust, over two million Jews from the Soviet Union were reported to have died in the Holocaust. “Anti-Semetic motives largely prompted significant sections of the population to extend a cordial welcome to the German invaders, who they believed had come to liberate them from the dual yoke of Bolshevism and Jewish domination.” Works Cited: Source 2 Members of the Ukranian and Latvian police complied with the SS and deported many Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. Some local governments enacted their own death march, such as done by Lithuanian police who marched Jews to their death at Ponary.

After the Holocaust, many Soviet Jews packed up and left for either the United States, or Israel. However, before they could come to the U.S., they had to undergo medical inspections in Italy. Apparently, tense from the ongoing Cold War, America did not trust Russian doctors from fears of infiltration or contamination.

Brighton Beach

Today many Jews from Russia and most other parts of the former Soviet Union live in Brooklyn. They are mostly located in Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay. In fact, the community of Brighton Beach is so densely inhabited by Ukranians that it was dubbed with the name “Little Odessa.” Orthodox and Hasidic Jews from Russia moved mostly to Borough Park. Many Jewish owned businesses such as small shops and restaurants are in the area. Also, there are many Orthodox Jewish communities in Williamsburg and Flatbush.