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Studies in Contemporary Jewry an Annual XV 1999$
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Ezra Mendelsohn

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780195134681

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195134681.001.0001

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Mythologies and Realities of Jewish Life in Prerevolutionary St. Petersburg

Mythologies and Realities of Jewish Life in Prerevolutionary St. Petersburg

(p.107) Mythologies and Realities of Jewish Life in Prerevolutionary St. Petersburg
Studies in Contemporary Jewry an Annual XV 1999

Benjamin Nathans

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyzes the development of St. Petersburg Jewry as a community on the front line of the encounter with Russians and the tsarist state. Beginning with an analysis of the origins and settlement patterns of Jewish immigrants to the Russian capital, it attempts to place the Jews within the city's distinctive urban topography, and to reconstruct their experience of both rapid acculturation and abiding separateness. It then turns to the struggle over the formation of Jewish communal institutions, in which social and religious tensions already present within Jewish life in the Pale rapidly came to the fore, and were compounded by city and imperial authorities intent on restricting what to them appeared to be excessive Jewish solidarity. The history of Jews in late 19th-century St. Petersburg promises to broaden our view of the role of ethnic and religious difference in the imperial metropolis, of the evolving structure of Russian Jewish society, and of the autocracy's attempt to confront the “Jewish question” in its own backyard.

Keywords:   Jews, Russia, Russian Jewry, Jewish community, tsarist state

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