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Distributed for Brandeis University Press

Everyday Jewish Life in Imperial Russia

Select Documents, 1772–1914

This book makes accessible—for the first time in English—declassified archival documents from the former Soviet Union, rabbinic sources, and previously untranslated memoirs, illuminating everyday Jewish life as the site of interaction and negotiation among and between neighbors, society, and the Russian state, from the beginning of the nineteenth century to World War I. Focusing on religion, family, health, sexuality, work, and politics, these documents provide an intimate portrait of the rich diversity of Jewish life. By personalizing collective experience through individual life stories—reflecting not only the typical but also the extraordinary—the sources reveal the tensions and ruptures in a vanished society. An introductory survey of Russian Jewish history from the Polish partitions (1772–1795) to World War I combines with prefatory remarks, textual annotations, and a bibliography of suggested readings to provide a new perspective on the history of the Jews of Russia.

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Table of Contents

Preface • Acknowledgments • Introduction: The Imperial Context • I. RELIGIOUS LIFE • THE DIVERSITY OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE • 1. The Cantor of Duvid Twersky’s Hasidic Court in Tal’noe: The Memoirs of Pinhas Minkovsky • 2. Secret State Reports on the Twersky Tsaddikim in Kiev and Volhynia Provinces (1861–68) • 3. The Vurke Hasidic Court in Otwock:The Memoirs of Ita Kalish • 4. Yehoshu’a Heschel Levine’s TheAscents of Eliyahu (Gaon of Vil’na) • 5. Memoirs of R. Elijah ben Benjamin Rabinowitz-Teomim, the Aderet (1845–1905) • 6. Tkhines [Supplicatory Prayers] for Women • 7. The Cantor of Poltava Choral Synagogue: The Memoirs of Genrikh Sliozberg • 8. The Cantor of Vil’na and Cantorial Competitions: The Memoirs of Avraam Uri Kovner RELIGIOUS DILEMMAS AND JEWISH LAW • 9. Yehudah Leib Gordon, “The Mouth That Forbade Was the Mouth That Allowed” • 10. Responsum of R. Naftali Zvi Yehudah Berlin of Volozhin: Oaths • 11. Responsum of R. Yitzhak Elhanan Spektor: Etrogim • 12. Responsum of R. Yitzhak Elhanan Spektor: Hametz • 13. Responsum of R. Yitzhak Elhanan Spektor: Share of Books in the Study Hall • 14. Responsum of R. Naftali Zvi Yehudah Berlin of Volozhin: Counting a Minor in a Minyan • 15. Responsum of R. Naftali Zvi Yehudah Berlin of Volozhin: A Separate Study Hall and Synagogue • CONVERSION TO CHRISTIANITY • 16. Petitions for Conversion • 17. Missionary Activities to Convert Jews in Lokhvits (1903) 18. Jewish-Peasant Conflicts in Stepashek Following the Conversion of Anastasiia Lerman (Shimanskaia) and Her Marriage to a Peasant (1901) • 19. Disorders Following the Secret Conversion of Gitlia Korn in Lublin (1904) • 20. Apostasy: Reconversion from Christianity to Judaism • 21. Responsum of R. Hayim Ozer Grodzinski: On Converts in America, a Comparative Perspective • JEWS AND THE STATE ON RELIGIOUS MATTERS • 22. State Rabbis • 23. Synagogues and Cemeteries • 24. Petitions to the Governor of Kiev Province about High Holiday Services (1907–13) • 25. Trial of Girsh Sagalevich for Insulting the Russian Orthodox Faith in Vil’na (1869) • II. FAMILY LIFE • PARENTS AND CHILDREN • 26. Kvitlakh Addressed to an Unknown Rabbi in Vil’na (1839) • 27. Metrical Book Registration of Births by the State Rabbi (1906) • 28. A Jewish Boyhood in Odessa: Memoirs of Lazar B. Gol’denberg (b. circa 1845) • 29. A Jewish Girlhood in Moscow in the 1870s and 1880s: The Memoirs of Roza Vinaver • 30. Petition of Khaia Saetovaia of Vil’na for Material Support from Children (1846) • 31. Trial of Mordukh Eliashberg of Vil’na for Rebellion against Parental Authority (1859) • MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE • 32. Tenaim (Engagement Contract) of Esther Machlevich and Aharon Rosenstein • 33. Responsum of R. Naftali Zvi Yehudah Berlin of Volozhin: An Ambiguous Betrothal • 34. Responsum of R. Naftali Zvi Yehudah Berlin of Volozhin: A Betrothal in Jest • 35. Responsum of R. Yitzhak Elhanan Spektor: Breaking Off an Engagement • 36. Loss of Residence Rights: Marriage to a Jew without the Right to Live outside the Pale of Settlement (1909) • 37. A Rebellious Wife? (c. 1904) • 38. Petition for a Separate Passport on Grounds of Spousal Abuse (1900) • 39. Questions to R. Yitzhak Elhanan Spektor on Marriage and Divorce • 40. Divorce by Mutual Agreement, Child Custody, and Support • 41. Prison Divorces • 42. Responsum of R. Yitzhak Elhanan Spektor: An Agunah Whose Husband Has Been Exiled • 43. Responsum of R. Yitzhak Elhanan Spektor: The Disappearance of a Husband • 44. Responsum of R. Naftali Zvi Yehudah Berlin of Volozhin: A Male Agun? • 45. Question to R. Yitzhak Elhanan Spektor: A Husband Killed in War • 46. The Unwilling Levir and Halitsah (1893) • 47. Emigration to America and Desertion of a Pregnant Wife • FAMILY LIFE AFTER CONVERSION TO CHRISTIANITY• 48. Divorce of Jewish Spouses • 49. Petition of Rosa Vil’ken of St. Petersburg for a Separate Passport from Her Lutheran Husband (1887) • 50. Petition of Sofi ia Zil’berman of Dvinsk to Change Jewish Surnames of Converted Children (1896) • DEATH—ORPHANHOOD, GUARDIANSHIP, AND PROPERTY • 51. Family Letters of the Rozenshteins and Machlevichs (Kiev Province, 1890s) • 52. Legalizing a “Homemade” Last Will and Testament (1842) • 53. Guardianship of a Grandchild in the Kiev Orphans’ Court (1899) • 54. Petition of Dveira Zelikman of St. Petersburg to Adopt an Orphaned Grandson (1912) • 55. Petition of Israel Nemen of Kiev for the Appointment of a Guardian (1900) • 56. Suit of Tauba Aizenshtadt of Kievagainst a Spendthrift Son (January 1910) • III. HEALTH AND SEXUALITY • TRADITIONAL HEALING AND FOLK MEDICINES • 57. R. Pinchas Katzenelbogen: Remedy for a Fever in Yesh Manhilin • 58. Moshe Shtudentski: A Pediatricianon Puberty in Adolescent Girls (1847) • 59. Moshe Shtudentski: A Pediatrician on Masturbation (1847) • 60. Birth Control Advertisement (1908) • 61. Dr. Nisse’s Medical Advice about Birth Control (1908) • 62. Trial of Feiga Noskin: Report of an Illegal Abortion in Vil’na (1886) • 63. Moshe Shtudentski: A Pediatrician on Breast-Feeding (1847) • 64. Circumcision of a Sixteen-Year-Old Jewish Boy with Hemophilia (1894–1908) • DIET, HYGIENE, AND EXERCISE • 65. Dr. Gottlieb’s Advice for Good Health (1911) • 66. Dr. Gottlieb’s Advice for a Healthy Diet (1908) • 67. Responsum of R. Naftali Zvi Yehudah Berlin of Volozhin: Polluted Water and Wells (1880) • MENTAL ILLNESS • 68. Moshe Shtudentski: A Pediatrician on Nervous Illnesses (1847) • 69. Petition to Hospitalize Dvoira Zlotoiabko of Vil’na for Mental Illness (1895) • 70. Petition to Hospitalize Rivka Khaimovna Arliuk of Oshmiany for Mental Illness (1902) • 71. Petition to Hospitalize Meer Mendelev Ginzburg of Bobruisk for Mental Illness (1902) • 72. Petition to Hospitalize Sholom Peisakhovich of Vil’na for Mental Illness (1902) • 73. Petition to Hospitalize Rivka Gefter of Vil’na for Mental Illness (1902) • 74. Petition to Hospitalize Leib Girshev Ioff e of Vil’na for Mental Illness (1902) • MODESTY • 75. Petition of Rabbi and Merchants of Zhitomir to Count Kiselev [Chairman of the Committee for the Organization of Jewish Life], against the Zhitomir Police (1853) • 76. On Crinoline: Memoirs of Avraham Paperna • 77. Secret State Report on Tsaddik Twersky’s Disciples and Crinoline (1863) • MARITAL SEX • 78. Early Marriage and Sexuality: The Memoirs of Mordechai Aaron Guenzburg • 79. Petition to Divorce an Impotent Husband (1910) • 80. Responsum of R. Yitzhak Elhanan Spektor: A Mikvah Near a Turpentine Factory • 81. Responsum of R. Hayim Ozer Grodzinski: Manicures and the Mikvah • 82. Responsum of R. Yitzhak Elhanan Spektor: Marriage of a Man Without a Right Testicle • 83. Responsum of R. Yosef Zekharyah Stern: Paternity Determination for the Child of a Raped Wife • 84. Responsum of R. Yosef Zekharyah Stern: On the Issue of Intercourse That Endangers the Wife’s Life • 85. A Husband with Syphilis (1872) EXTRAMARITAL SEX • 86. Responsum of R. Yosef Zekharyah Stern: On Concubines • 87. Questions to R. Yitzhak Elhanan Spektor about Adultery and Rape • 88. Trial of Sosha Lubshitz of Trokai Accused of Suffocating an Infant Conceived before Marriage (1879) • 89. Trial of of Rivka Khaet for Infanticide in Vil’na (1897) • 90. A Russian Orthodox Couple’s Aid Request for an Illegitimate Baptized Jewish Child (1903) • 91. Petition of Rafail Veisman about His Illegitimate Russian Orthodox Children (1902) • 92. Petition to Legitimize a Child Born out of Wedlock (1916) • 93. Alleged Rape of the Domestic Servant Rakhil Krupen by Her Employer in Moscow (1885) • PROSTITUTION • 94. Inspection Report of Sixteen Brothels in Vil’na (1871) • 95. Petition of Homeowners to Close the Jewish Madam Mil’shtenova’s Brothel in Kiev (1871) • 96. Khanne Gershator’s Application for a Prostitute’s “Yellow Ticket” (20 December 1877) • 97. Residents’ Denunciation of Guta Mekler for Prostitution in Vil’na (1882) • 98. Prostitutes in Antokol’ Accused of Infecting Soldiers with Syphilis (1882) • 99. Report of the Vil’na City Doctor on Two Prostitutes (1893) • 100. Denunciation of Sheina Zlata Accused of Infecting Men with a Venereal Disease (1894) • 101. Physical Examination of Jewish Prostitutes • 102. Denunciation of Jewish “Prostitutes” in Stoklishki (1899) •103. The Russian Society for the Protection of Women: The Jewish Section (1900–1901) • IV. EDUCATION AND CULTURE • INSTITUTIONS OF JEWISH LEARNING • 104. Moshe Leib Lilienblum, The Sins of My Youth (1873) • 105. State Inspection of Jewish Schools in Vil’na (1870) • 106. Certification of Melamedim (1869) • 107. Trial of Girsh Korobochko for Teaching without a Melamed’s Certificate (1888–89) • 108. Apprenticeship of Buki Ben Yagli to a Scribe in Slonim • 109. Ben Zion Dinur’s Yeshiva Memoirs • JEWISH PRIVATE SCHOOLS • 110. The Berman School for Jewish Children in St. Petersburg (1865–84) • 111. Complaint of the Jews of Tel’she against Yehudah Leib Gordon’s Treatment of Students (1867) • 112. Petition of Eidlia Liubich of Grodno for Permission to Teach Hebrew Calligraphy to Jewish Girls in Grodno (1892) • 113. A Private School for Jewish Boys in Siberia (1896) • 114. Elite Home Education and Culture: The Diaries of Zinaida Poliakova SECONDARY SCHOOL EDUCATION • 115. A Girl’s Gymnasium Education: The Memoirs of Mariia Rashkovich • 116. A Boy’s Gymnasium Life: The Memoirs of Genrikh Sliozberg • STATE RABBINICAL SCHOOLS IN VIL’NA AND ZHITOMIR • 117. Avraam Uri Kovner: The Vil’na Rabbinical School • 118. The Curriculum of the State Rabbinical Schools in Zhitomir and Vil’na • 119. Graduates of State Rabbinical Schools Who Had Received State Stipends • UNIVERSITY LIFE • 120. On University Life: The Memoirs of Vladimir Osipovich Garkavy • 121. The Impact of Women’s Higher Education on Marriage • 122. Letters of a Female Medical Student in St. Petersburg to Her Admirer (1903) • 123. Complaints about Overrepresentation of Jews in Education • 124. Numerus Clausus during World War I • V. WORK • COMMERCE AND TRADE • 125. Jewish Commerce and Trade in Moscow (1790) • 126. Jewish Contraband in Moscow • 127. Petition of a Jewish Merchant to Reside in Siberia (1855) • 128. Aharon Rozenshtein’s Correspondence on the Brick Business (1901) • 129. Theft and Violence at Jewish Storesin Warsaw Province (1883) • 130. Anti-Jewish Disorder at a Jewish Store in Chenstokhov (1902) • 131. Theft and Violence at a Jewish Store in Smela (1904) • 132. Inaccurate Scales in a Small Jewish Shop (1909) • 133. Petition of Belorussian Jews about the Liquor Trade (1784) • 134. A Violent Night in the Tavern (1878) • 135. A Secret Distillery in Briansk (1885) • 136. Trial of Nokhim and Khaia Gurvich of Vil’komir for the Illicit Production of Alcohol (1901) • DOMESTIC SERVICE • 137. Avraham Izrailevich Paperno’s Nanny Roiza • 138. A Russian Cook Accused of Observing Judaism in Moscow (1896) • 139. Lawsuits in Zhitomir for Unpaid Labor • 140. “Fictitious” Jewish Servants outside the Pale of Settlement (1890–91) • JEWISH AGRICULTURAL COLONIES AND FARMS • 141. Exclusion of Jewish Colonists from Colonies in Kherson Province (1874) • 142. State Loans to Jewish Farmers during a Drought in Ekaterinoslav Province (1885–86) • 143. Request for Land in a Jewish Colony in Kherson Province (1887–88) • 144. Life on a Jewish Farm in Borovoi-Mlyn: Memoir of Mariia Shkol’nik (1890s) • ARTISANS AND FACTORY WORK • 145. Residence Rights of Children of Skilled Artisans • 146. Expulsion of a Skilled Artisan from St. Petersburg (1890) • 147. The Hemp Scutching Trade and Expulsion from Kursk Province (1890–91) • 148. Prohibition on Jews in Mining Factories in Siberia • 149. Female Workers’ Strike at the Gal’pern Matchbox Factory in Pinsk (1901–2) • PROFESSIONALS • 150. Permission to Open a Medical Clinic for Women in Vil’na (1907) • 151. Permission to Open a Dental Clinic in Kursk Province (1908-9) • 152. The Law Profession in Russia: Memoirs of Genrikh Sliozberg • 153. Jewish Law Graduates from the Imperial University of St. Vladimir, Kiev (1912) • VI. JEWS, NEIGHBORS, AND THE RUSSIAN STATE • CONSCRIPTION • 154. Complaint about the Illegal Conscription of an Only Son (1836) • 155. Complaint about the Illegal Conscription of a Jewish Surgeon (1837) • 156. Observance of Judaism in the Russian Army (1844) •157. Observance of Judaism in the Russian Army (1851) • 158. Self-Mutilation to Evade Military Service • 159. Appeal against a Vil’na Court Decision on Draft Evasion (1893) • 160. Letter from Jewish Students to P. N. Miliukov [Kadet Leader in the State Duma] on Admitting Jews into the Officer Corps of the Russian Army (27 October 1916) • 161. Appeal by the Jewish Students of Petrograd University to Serve as Officers (c. 1916) • THE POLISH UPRISING OF 1863 • 162. Tsirla Adelsonovaia’s Petition on Behalf of Her Husband in the Trial of an Insurgent (1863–64) • 163. Investigation of Litka Abramovicheva for Supplying Gun Powder to Rebels (1864) • 164. Investigation of Movshe Shur for Supplying Provisions to Polish Rebels (1864) • Antisemitism and Pogroms • 165. Pogroms in Nezhin District, Chernigov Province (1881) • 166. Pogroms in Pereiaslavl, Poltava Province (1881) • 167. Anti-Jewish Violence after Accusations of Ritual Murder in Dubossary, Kherson Province (1903) • 168. Eyewitness Accounts of the Kishinev Pogrom Recorded by Haim Nachman Bialik (1903) • 169. Violence in Bessarabia Province in the Aftermath of Kishinev (1903) • 170. Reports of Armed Jewish Self-Defense Groups in Rostov-na-Donu (1903) • JEWS IN THE REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT • 171. Narodnaia Volia: Gesia Gel’fman’s Trial in the Assassination of Alexander II (1881) • 172. The Social Democratic Workers’ Party (Bund): Police Files on Mariia (Manya) Vul’fovna Vil’bushevich • 173. The Jewish Independent Workers’ Party and Police Unionism (1901–2) • 174. A Female Socialist Revolutionary Terrorist: The Memoirs of Mariia (Mania) Shkol’nik • ZIONISM • 175. Hibbat Tsiyyon: Letters between Leon Pinsker and Naftali Berlin • 176. Secret Police Reports on Zionist Activities in Synagogues • EMIGRATION • 177. The Case of Mordukh Itskovich Berezovskii (1907) • 178. Problems with Exit Certificates and Foreign Passports • 179. Tema Lysianskaia of Kiev and Her Children • 180. The Rights of Wives and Children Left behind after the Secret Emigration of Husbands • 181. A Fine of Three Hundred Rubles for Emigrants Whose Relatives Evaded Military Service • 182. R. Israel Meir Kagan, The Outcasts of Israel (1893) • Select Bibliography • Index

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