30 Facts About Russian Jews


Largest group among Russian Jews are Ashkenazi Jews, but the community includes a significant proportion of other non-Ashkenazi from other Jewish diaspora including Mountain Jews, Sephardi Jews, Crimean Karaites, Krymchaks, Bukharan Jews and Georgian Jews.

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Only 958 Russian Jews had joined the Bolshevik Party before 1917; thousands joined after the Revolution.

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Russian Jews have been present in contemporary Armenia and Georgia since the Babylonian captivity.

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At that time, Russian Jews were probably found in northeastern Russia, in the domains of Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky, although it is uncertain to which degree they would have been living there permanently.

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Russian Jews had extraordinary knowledge of foreign languages and served as the chief translator in the Russian Foreign Office, subsequently he began to accompany Tsar Peter on his international travels.

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Under Alexander I and Nicholas I, decrees were put forth requiring a Russian Jews-speaking member of a Jewish community to be named to act as an intermediary between his community and the Imperial government to perform certain civil duties, such as registering births, marriages, and divorces.

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The official Russian Jews policy was to encourage the conversion of Jewish cantonists to the state religion of Orthodox Christianity and Jewish boys were coerced to baptism.

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Polish Catholic boys were subject to similar pressure to convert and assimilate as the Russian Jews Empire was hostile to Catholicism and Polish nationalism.

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Large-scale wave of anti-Jewish pogroms swept Ukraine in 1881, after Russian Jews were scapegoated for the assassination of Alexander II.

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Special quotas restricted Russian Jews from entering profession of law, limiting number of Russian Jews admitted to the bar.

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Only a small number of Russian Jews were allowed to be members of a town Duma, through appointment by special committees.

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When hundreds of thousands of refugees from Poland and Lithuania, among them innumerable Russian Jews, fled in terror before enemy invasion, the Pale of Settlement de facto ceased to exist.

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In 1921, a large number of Russian Jews opted for Poland, as they were entitled by the peace treaty in Riga to choose the country they preferred.

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Russian Jews were long considered to be a non-native Semitic ethnic group among the Slavic Russians, and such categorization was solidified when ethnic minorities in the Soviet Union were categorized according to ethnicity .

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Russian Jews played a disproportionate role in Belarusian politics and Soviet politics more generally in the 1920s, especially through the Bolshevik Party's Yiddish-language branch, the Yevsekstsia.

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Russian Jews who escaped the purges include Lazar Kaganovich, who came to Stalin's attention in the 1920s as a successful bureaucrat in Tashkent and participated in the purges of the 1930s.

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The years before the Holocaust were an era of rapid change for Soviet Russian Jews, leaving behind the dreadful poverty of the Pale of Settlement.

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Emphasis on education and movement from countryside shtetls to newly industrialized cities allowed many Soviet Russian Jews to enjoy overall advances under Stalin and to become one of the most educated population groups in the world.

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Over two million Soviet Russian Jews are believed to have died during the Holocaust, second only to the number of Polish Russian Jews to have fallen victim to Hitler.

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Revival of Jewish identity after the war, stimulated by the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, was cautiously welcomed by Stalin as a means to put pressure on Western imperialism in the Middle East, but when it became evident that many Soviet Russian Jews expected the revival of Zionism to enhance their own aspirations for separate cultural and religious development in the Soviet Union, a wave of repression was unleashed.

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Russian Jews were the immediate benefactors, but they were long-term victims, of the Marxist notion that any manifestation of nationalism is "socially retrogressive".

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On one hand, Russian Jews were liberated from the religious persecution of the Tsarist years of "Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality".

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Russian Jews did not fit such a theoretical model; Russian Jews in the Diaspora did not even have an agricultural base, as Stalin often asserted when he attempted to deny the existence of a Jewish nation, and they certainly did not have a territorial unit.

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Still many Russian Jews felt compelled to hide their identities by changing their names.

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The great majority of the Leningrad Russian Jews were not religious, but several thousand used to visit the synagogue on great holidays, mostly on Simchat Torah.

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Furthermore, Russian Jews holding positions requiring specialized training tended to be highly concentrated in a small set of specialties, including medicine, mathematics, biology and music.

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Attacks against Russian Jews made by extremist Islamic groups are rare in Russia although there has been increase in the scope of the attacks mainly in Muslim populated areas.

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Caucasian Mountain Russian Jews, known as Tats or Dagchufuts, live mostly in Israel and the United States, with a scattered population in Dagestan and Azerbaijan.

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Hundreds of Russian Jews have moved to Finland since 1990 and have helped to stem the negative population growth of the Jewish community there.

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The addition of Russian Jews have neutralized the negative Jewish population trends in some European countries like the Netherlands and Austria.

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