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Jewish Tours Argentina

It Had Its History

The Jews of Russia

The poor economic situation of Russian Jews was aggravated by frequent wars, and repeated expulsions. The Jews were engaged principally in petty trading, as middlemen, or holding various rights leased to them by the landowners, such as milling, fish ponds, and orchards; most of them however, earned their livelihood by the sale of liquor. The Jews were made permanently dependent on the landowners on whose property they lived.

Jewish religious observance and study of the Torah and rabbinic lore were difficult in Russia during this period.

After 1772, Russia acquired a large area of Poland and with it, a large number of Jews. There were still restrictions against the Jews and eventually they were allowed to settle only in the Pale of Settlement, an area in the west of the Russian Empire.

Before World War I most Jews were confined to the Pale - an area limited mainly to what is today Lithuania, Belorussia and the Ukraine. It is known that at the beginning of the twentieth century there were five and a half million Jews living in the territory of the Russian Empire.

Jews who were able to work their way into such large cities such as St. Petersburg and Moscow were similarly restricted. They were excluded from the ranks of government service, especially officers corps, elected offices, teachers, the foreign service, the civil service. Jews were also excluded from leading positions in shipping, railroad, insurance and mining companies.

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