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Russian Jewry 1860-1917 - Jacob Frumkin, Gregor Aronson

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The modern phase of Jewish cultural activity in Russia began in the period of the “Great Reforms” under Czar Alexander 11, when the Jews began to participate in Russian cultural and political life. During the reigns of Alexander’s two successors, the system of legal dis- abilities became tighter, resulting in a severe restriction of Jewish rights of residence, education, professional activity, etc. Anti-Semitism became the official policy of the Russian government; the Jews of Russia lived under the constant threat of recurring pogroms and persecutions. Millions sought salvation by emigrating, principally to the United States. The Revolution of 1917 brought the Russian Jews a promise of full legal equality and the hope of healthy national development; unfortunately, the promise was never fulfilled.
This collection of essays, some translated for the first time, covers every aspect of the life, the culture, and the contributions of the Jews of Russia during the period of their greatest participation in Russian life. The titles of some of these es- says —— “Legal Status of Jews in Russia,” “Jews in the Russian Economy,” “Russian Jews in Zionism,” “Jews in the Russian Bar,” “Russian Jews in Music,” “Yiddish Literature in Russia”—demonstrate the extraordinary scope of this volume; a quick glance through the book will convince the reader of the perceptive, penetrating nature of the essays themselves.
The accomplishments of the Jews of Russia in the literature of three languages, their achievements in the arts and sciences under two antithetical political-economic systems, and their effect on Russian and world history is of vital interest to us. Although the scope of Russian Jewry extends only to the 1917 revolution, knowledge of the period with which it deals is, of necessity, prologue to an understanding of an important segment of contemporary affairs.

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