Jews In Russia Essay

1288 words - 5 pages

To Russian Jews, the synagogue was the center of religion and religion was themost important thing in their lives. The rabbi was their leader, they came to him withevery problem they had. Jews were poor, but they all gave tzedakah. It was said thateven the poorest Jews could find someone poorer to help and give money to. Accordingto the Jewish religion, tzedakah is one of the most important mitzvahs you can do. Thesame could be said about the Jewish holidays. They were observed very strictly, butShabbat was the most welcomed. In order to teach the importance of Jewish law, theystarted their own schools, their own courts of law, and their own burial societies. eventhough there were pogroms, religious persecution forced the Jews to create strongercommunities and made them more united.In the beginning of the 1800s, Alexander I ruled Russia. He promised the Jewsthat they could become farmers, could live in two districts, and could buy unoccupiedland. Although Alexander was kind and helped the Jews, the tax they were forced to pay,stayed. before he died in 1825, the Jewish situation became hard for them to bare. Theylived in poverty in small and crowded places and were oppressed.For hundreds of years, Jews lived these ways in two communities - the ghetto and theshtetl. To keep out thieves and rioters from coming in, they built walls around theirsection of town. When they did this, the government and churches got an idea, theywould use the walls that the Jews built, to lock them in.These walls were located near a foundry that made cannons, so they named it"ghetto" which means "foundry". They would close the gates every night and the Jewswould be locked in until daybreak. The word of the ghettos quickly spread, soon therewere ghettos all over Europe. The Jews were all treated the same in every ghetto that wasin Europe, according the government and churches, the Jews had no rights. They wereno allowed to own land, join crafts guilds, or do any kind of work that Christians got todo. In some ghettos, they were even forced to wear badges so anyone who saw themwould know they were Jewish. The badge was usually a Star of David. For many years,the government took copies of the Talmud, and burnt them. Also the government forcedthe Jews to listen to long Christian sermons. Even though all these terrible things tookplace and the government was not good to the Jews, the ghettos seemed to be a betterplace for most Jews than the outside. The rich helped the poor and even the poorest Jewwas treated with respect because of what the Jewish law said. Though their livingconditions were not the best, the Jews all worked, studied, celebrated, and prayedtogether. They also tried to make life as worthwhile as possible.During the period that ghettos were spreading and becoming more well-known,shtetls, which mean "little towns", were beginning to take shape. Many of the Jewssettled outside the main cities, this is where they formed their shtetls. Unlike ghettos, theshtetls...

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