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The history of the Jews
Jews
in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
is inextricably linked to much earlier expansionist policies of the Tsarist Russia
Tsarist Russia
conquering and ruling the eastern half of the European continent already before the Bolshevik Revolution
Bolshevik Revolution
of 1917.[1] "For two centuries – wrote Zvi Gitelman – millions of Jews
Jews
had lived under one entity, the Russian Empire and [its successor state] the USSR. They had now come under the jurisdiction of fifteen states, some of which had never existed and others that had passed out of existence in 1939."[2] Before the revolutions of 1989 which resulted in the end of communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe, a number of these now sovereign countries constituted the component republics of the Soviet Union.[2]

Contents

1 Armenia 2 Azerbaijan 3 Belarus 4 Estonia 5 Georgia 6 Ukraine 7 See also 8 Footnotes 9 References

Armenia[edit] Main article: History of the Jews
Jews
in Armenia The history of the Jews
Jews
in Armenia
Armenia
dates back more than 2,000 years. After Eastern Armenia
Armenia
came under Russian rule in the early 19th century, Jews
Jews
began arriving from Poland
Poland
and Iran, creating Ashkenazic and Mizrahi communities in Yerevan. More Jews
Jews
moved to Armenia
Armenia
during its period as a Soviet republic finding more tolerance in the area than in Russia
Russia
or Ukraine. After World War II, the Jewish population rose to approximately 5,000.[citation needed] However, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
many left due to inadequate services and today the country's Jewish population has shrunk to 750. Despite small numbers, a high intermarriage rate, and relative isolation, a great deal of enthusiasm exists to help the community meet its needs.[3] There are about 100[citation needed] Jews
Jews
presently living in the Republic of Armenia, mainly in the capital Yerevan. They are mostly of Ashkenazi origin and some are Mizrahi Georgian Jews. Azerbaijan[edit] Main article: History of the Jews
Jews
in Azerbaijan

Mountain Jews
Mountain Jews
in Quba rayon, Azerbaijan, 1932

The History of the Jews in Azerbaijan
History of the Jews in Azerbaijan
(Judæo-Tat: çuhuro / жугьуро / ז'אוּהאוּרו; Yiddish: אַזערבייַדזאַניש יִידן‎; Azerbaijani: cuhudlar, yəhudilər; Russian: Азербайджанские евреи) dates back to Late Antiquity. Historically Jews
Jews
in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
have been represented by various subgroups, mainly Mountain Jews, Ashkenazi Jews and Georgian Jews. After Sovietization all Zionism-related activities including those of cultural nature that were carried out in Hebrew were banned. In the early 1920s a few hundred Mountain Jewish families from Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
and Dagestan
Dagestan
left for Palestine and settled in Tel-Aviv. The next aliyah did not take place until the 1970s, after the ban on Jewish immigration to Israel
Israel
was lifted (see: Refusenik). Between 1972 and 1978 around 3,000 people left Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
for Israel. 1970 was the demographic peak for Azerbaijani Jews
Jews
after World War II; according to the census, 41,288 Jews
Jews
resided in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
that year.[4] Many Jewish émigrés from Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
settled in Tel-Aviv
Tel-Aviv
and Haifa. There are relatively large communities of Mountain Jewish expatriates from Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
in New York City
New York City
and Toronto. Similar to many immigrant communities of the Czarist and Soviet eras in Azerbaijan, Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews
appear to be linguistically Russified. The majority of Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews
speak Russian as their first language with Azeri sometimes being spoken as the second. The number of Yiddish-speakers is unknown. Belarus[edit] Main article: History of the Jews
Jews
in Belarus

Jews
Jews
in Minsk, German–occupied Belarus, 1941

The Jews
Jews
in Belarus, then known as Byelorussia were the third largest ethnic group in the country in the first half of the 20th century. Before World War II, Jews
Jews
were the third among the ethnic groups in Belarus
Belarus
and comprised more than 40% of the population in cities and towns. The population of cities such as Minsk, Pinsk, Mahiliou, Babrujsk, Viciebsk, and Homiel
Homiel
was more than 50% Jewish. In 1897 there were 724,548 Jews
Jews
in Belarus, or 13.6% of the total population.[5] Some 800,000 Jews—90% of the Jewish population—were killed in Belarus
Belarus
during the Holocaust.[6] According to the 2009 census, there were 12,926 Jews
Jews
in Belarus
Belarus
(0.1% of the population).[7] The Jewish Agency estimates the community of Jews
Jews
in Belarus
Belarus
at 70,000. Marc Chagall, Mendele Mocher Sforim, Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Weizmann
and Menachem Begin
Menachem Begin
were born in Belarus. By the end of the 19th century, many Belarusian Jews were part of the general flight of Jews
Jews
from Eastern Europe to the New World due to conflicts and pogroms engulfing the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
and the anti-Semitism of the Russian czars. Millions of Jews, including tens of thousands of Jews
Jews
from Belarus, emigrated to the United States of America and South Africa. A small number also emigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine. During the first years of Soviet occupation of Belarus, Jews
Jews
were able to get managing positions in the country. In WW II, atrocities against the Jewish population in the German-conquered areas began almost immediately, with the dispatch of Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
(task groups) to round up Jews
Jews
and shoot them. In the second half of the 20th century, there was a large wave of Belarusian Jews
Jews
immigrating to Israel
Israel
(see Aliyah
Aliyah
from the Soviet Union in the 1970s), as well as to the United States. In 1979, there were 135,400 Jews
Jews
in Belarus; a decade later, 112,000 were left. The collapse of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
and Belarusian independence saw most of the community, along with the majority of the former Soviet Union's Jewish population, leave for Israel
Israel
(see Russian immigration to Israel in the 1990s), when most of the former Soviet Union's Jewish population left for Israel.[8] The 1999 census estimated that there were only 29,000 Jews
Jews
left in the country. However, local Jewish organizations put the number at 50,000, and the Jewish Agency believes that there are 70,000. About half of the country's Jews
Jews
live in Minsk. Despite anti-semitic government policies, national Jewish organizations, local cultural groups, religious schools, charitable organizations, and organizations for war veterans and Holocaust survivors have been formed.[8] Since the mass immigration of the 1990s, there has been some continuous immigration to Israel. In 2002, 974 Belarusians moved to Israel, and between 2003 and 2005, 4,854 followed suit.[8] Estonia[edit] Main article: History of the Jews
Jews
in Estonia The history of the Jews
Jews
in Estonia[9] starts with individual reports of Jews
Jews
in what is now Estonia
Estonia
from as early as the 14th century. However, the process of permanent Jewish settlement in Estonia
Estonia
began in the 19th century, especially after they were granted the official right to enter the region by a statute of Russian Tsar Alexander II in 1865. This allowed the so-called Jewish 'Nicholas soldiers' (often former cantonists) and their descendants, First Guild merchants, artisans, and Jews
Jews
with higher education to settle in Estonia
Estonia
and other parts of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
outside their Pale of Settlement. The "Nicholas soldiers" and their descendants, and artisans were, basically, the ones who founded the first Jewish congregations in Estonia. The Tallinn
Tallinn
congregation, the largest in Estonia, was founded in 1830. The Tartu
Tartu
congregation was established in 1866 when the first fifty families settled there. Synagogues were built, the largest of which were constructed in Tallinn
Tallinn
in 1883 and Tartu
Tartu
in 1901. Both of these were subsequently destroyed by fire in World War II. The life of the small Jewish community in Estonia
Estonia
was disrupted in 1940 with the Soviet occupation of Estonia. Cultural autonomy together with all its institutions was liquidated in July 1940. In July and August of the same year all organisations, associations, societies and corporations were closed. The Jews' businesses were nationalized. A relatively large number of Jews
Jews
(350-450, about 10% of the total Jewish population) were deported into prison camps in Russia
Russia
by the Soviet authorities on 14 June 1941.[10][11] In WW II, more than 75% of Estonia's Jewish community, aware of the fate that otherwise awaited them, managed to escape to the Soviet Union; virtually all the remainder (between 950 and 1000 men, women and children) had been killed by the end of 1941. The four Estonians held most responsible for the murders at Kalevi-Liiva were accused at war crimes trials in 1961. Two were later executed; the others avoided sentencing by having gone to exile. From 1944 until 1988 the Estonian Jewish community had no organisations, associations, or clubs. In March 1988, as the process towards regaining Estonia's independence was beginning, the Jewish Cultural Society was established in Tallinn. It was the first of its kind in the late Soviet Union. Unlike in other parts of the Soviet Union, there were no problems with registering either the society or its symbols. The Society began by organising concerts and lectures. Soon the question of founding a Jewish school arose. As a start, a Sunday school was established in 1989. The Tallinn
Tallinn
Jewish Gymnasium on Karu Street was being used by a vocational school. In 1990, a Jewish School with grades 1 through 9 was established. Georgia[edit] Main article: History of the Jews
Jews
in Georgia

Shechita, Shalom Koboshvili, 1940

The Georgian Jews
Georgian Jews
(Georgian: ქართველი ებრაელები) are from Georgia, in the Caucasus. Georgian Jews
Georgian Jews
are one of the oldest communities in Georgia, tracing their migration into the country during the Babylonian captivity
Babylonian captivity
in 6th century BC.[12] In 1801, the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
annexed Eastern Georgia. In the beginning of the 19th century, Ashkenazi Russian Jews were forced to move to Georgia by the Russian government. The Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews
and the Georgian Jews
Georgian Jews
began establishing contact with each other, but relations were strained. Georgian Jews
Georgian Jews
viewed the Ashkenazim as godless and secular, while the Ashkenazim looked down on the Georgian Jews. Zionism
Zionism
was a uniting cause for the two groups. Beginning in 1863, groups of Jews
Jews
began making aliyah, mostly for religious reasons. The Red Army invaded Georgia in February 1921, prompting a mass exodus from the region. Initially, the Soviets allowed the Jews
Jews
to maintain their religious customs, but after a Georgian rebellion in 1924, the Bolshevik government terminated all Zionist activity, imposed economic restrictions, and generally discriminated against the Jewish community[citation needed]. As a result, many Jewish businesses were bankrupted and 200 families applied for exit visas. Only 18 were allowed to emigrate. In the mid-1920s, the Soviets focused on industrializing and secularizing the Jews
Jews
of Georgia. Mass numbers of Jews
Jews
were forced to work in factories or to join craft cooperatives and collective farm projects. In 1927–1928, OZET, the organization for settling Jewish workers on farms, established a number of Jewish collective farms. These small homogeneous communities became isolated Jewish communities where Jewish learning was continued. Recognizing this, the Communists disbanded the communities in the 1930s, scattering the Jews
Jews
among various farms and destroying Jewish communal life. The situation of the Jewish community of Georgia improved dramatically due to the end of the Soviet occupation. Ukraine[edit] Main article: History of the Jews
Jews
in Ukraine Ukrainian Jewry has endured both times of discrimination and well as times of development and success. The Jews
Jews
have been living in Ukraine since before the Common Era, where they worked with Greek traders near the Black Sea. Their population really expanded in the 13th century through migration of Jews
Jews
from the Rhineland in particular.[13] A large number of Jews
Jews
during this time period worked as artisans and merchants, but the largest amount of income came from the arenda system. The Jews
Jews
were put in charge of the arendas and given the power to collects taxes while also the power to make and sell alcohol. This system allowed the Jews
Jews
to become successful and helped their population to increase.[14] By the end of the 19th century the Jews, compared to the Ukrainians, were more concentrated in urban settings.[13]

Lviv pogrom, 1941

The beginning of the 20th century
20th century
brought with it a series of pogroms that led to the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews. A large number of the pogroms were carried out by the Ukrainian nationalist military and migrant industrial workers. Between 1918 and 1919, there were over 1,200 pogroms in Ukraine
Ukraine
which stemmed from the belief that Jews
Jews
were disloyal to the Tsar and were supporters of the Bolsheviks.[2] There were rumors that Alexander III gave people the right to attack Jews
Jews
because of the assassination of Alexander II. By the time the pogroms ended, 30,000 Jews
Jews
were killed, 500,000 Jews
Jews
were left homeless, and a total of 150,000 died due to diseases and wounds.[13] Just 30 years later, the Jews
Jews
were once again targeted and killed during the Holocaust
Holocaust
when the Nazis occupied Ukraine. During the war, a total of 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews
Jews
were killed, leaving only 40% of the Jewish population prior to the war.[13] In 1939, when Western Ukraine
Ukraine
was taken over by Germany, the Jews
Jews
were put into ghettos and later sent to death camps where they were killed. Additionally, the Einsatzgruppen, the mobile killing units, was responsible for the mass murder of up to a million Ukrainian Jews.[15] On the other hand, Jews living in areas annexed by the USSR
USSR
did not come into contact with the Nazis, but they were forced to undergo Sovietization.[13] Following the atrocities of the second world war, there was a lot of antisemitic violence in Ukraine. However, after the period known as Glasnost, the view of Jews
Jews
became more positive as they realized a need for change. The number of Jews
Jews
in Ukraine
Ukraine
has drastically decreased since the late 20th century. The 2001 census showed that 380,000 Jews
Jews
left Ukraine
Ukraine
since 1989, which was ¾ of the entire Jewish population.[13] See also[edit] This is discussed in more detail in the following articles:

History of the Jews
Jews
in Armenia History of the Jews
Jews
in Azerbaijan History of the Jews
Jews
in Belarus History of the Jews
Jews
in Estonia History of the Jews
Jews
in Georgia

History of the Jews
Jews
in Abkhazia History of the Jews
Jews
in South Ossetia

History of the Jews
Jews
in Kazakhstan History of the Jews
Jews
in Kyrgyzstan History of the Jews
Jews
in Latvia History of the Jews
Jews
in Lithuania History of the Jews
Jews
in Moldova History of the Jews
Jews
in Russia

History of Jews
Jews
in Udmurtia and Tatarstan

History of the Jews
Jews
in Tajikistan History of the Jews
Jews
in Turkmenistan History of the Jews
Jews
in Ukraine

History of the Jews
Jews
in Carpathian Ruthenia History of the Jews
Jews
in Galicia (Eastern Europe)

History of the Jews
Jews
in Uzbekistan

The following articles discuss various aspects of Jewish history specific to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
and the Soviet era:

Antisemitism
Antisemitism
in the Soviet Union

Stalin and antisemitism Rootless cosmopolitan Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee Specific Incidents:

Doctors' plot Night of the Murdered Poets

Soviet Anti-Zionism

Soviet Union
Soviet Union
and the Arab–Israeli conflict Anti-Zionist Committee of the Soviet Public

Aliyah
Aliyah
from the Soviet Union

Jewish Agency for Israel Lishkat Hakesher Refusenik Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry Jackson–Vanik amendment National Coalition Supporting Soviet Jewry

Jewish Autonomous Oblast

Post-Soviet Union:

Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS Union of Councils for Soviet Jews Russian immigration to Israel
Israel
in the 1990s

Pre-Soviet Union

History of the Jews
Jews
in the Russian Empire

Footnotes[edit]

^ Pinkus, Benjamin (1990). The Jews
Jews
of the Soviet Union: The History of a National Minority. Cambridge University Press. pp. 89–90. ISBN 0521389267 – via Google Books.  ^ a b c Gitelman, Zvi Y. (2001). A Century of Ambivalence: The Jews
Jews
of Russia
Russia
and the Soviet Union, 1881 to the Present. Indiana University Press. pp. 215–216. ISBN 0253214181 – via Google Books.  ^ Advocates on Behalf of Jews
Jews
in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States, and Eurasia: Armenia
Armenia
and Jews
Jews
Archived 2011-07-06 at the Wayback Machine. ^ (in Russian) The Electronic Jewish Encyclopædia: Azerbaijan ^ Slutsky, Yehuda (2007). "Belorussia." Encyclopaedia Judaica. 2nd ed. Vol. 3. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA. p.303-305. ^ Associated Press, Oct 21, 2008, " Belarus
Belarus
marks ghetto's destruction 65 years on" ^ [1] Archived July 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. ^ a b c "Belarus: Virtual Jewish History Tour". Jewishvirtuallibrary.org. 1991-04-25. Retrieved 2013-04-16.  ^ Jewish History in Estonia
Estonia
at www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org ^ Weiss-Wendt, Anton (1998). The Soviet Occupation of Estonia
Estonia
in 1940–41 and the Jews. Holocaust
Holocaust
and Genocide Studies 12.2, 308-325. ^ Berg, Eiki (1994). The Peculiarities of Jewish Settlement in Estonia. GeoJournal 33.4, 465-470. ^ The Wellspring of Georgian Historiography: The Early Medieval Historical Chronicle The Conversion of Katli and The Life of St. Nino, Constantine B. Lerner, England: Bennett and Bloom, London, 2004, p. 60 ^ a b c d e f "YIVO Ukraine". www.yivoencyclopedia.org. Retrieved 2016-12-13.  ^ "YIVO Leaseholding". www.yivoencyclopedia.org. Retrieved 2016-12-13.  ^ "YIVO Einsatzgruppen". www.yivoencyclopedia.org. Retrieved 2016-12-13. 

References[edit]

Schneer, David (2004). Yiddish and the creation of Soviet Jewish culture 1918-1930. New York, New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521826303. OCLC 52418128.  Gitelman, Zvi (2001). A Century of Ambivalence: The Jews
Jews
of Russia
Russia
and the Soviet Union, 1881 to the Present. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253214181 – via Google Books. 

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