A History of Women in Russia: From Earliest Times to the Present

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The first volume, now offered to the public, contains the history of the Jews of Russia and Poland from its beginnings until the death of Alexander I. The second volume will continue the historic narrative up to the very threshold of the present. The book was originally scheduled to appear at a later date.

The great events of our time, which have made the question of Russian Jewry a part of the world problem, suggested the importance of earlier publication. In order that there might be as little delay as possible in giving the book to the public, the maps and the bibliographical apparatus were reserved for the second volume. The same volume, which, it is hoped, will appear in the course of this year, will contain also the index to the whole work.

My task as translator has been considerably facilitated by the self-abnegation of the author, who gave me permission to act as editor and to adapt the original to the requirements of an English version. I have made frequent use of the privilege accorded to me, and have endeavored throughout to bridge the wide gap which stretches between the Russian and American reading public in matters of literary taste.

This editorial activity includes a number of changes in the framework of the [5] book, which was originally divided into sections of disproportionate length, and has now been arranged in a more uniform manner. In the course of this rearrangement, it became necessary to change the wording of some of the headings so as to bring them into greater conformity with English literary usage.

It should be pointed out, however, that the changes made are of a stylistic nature, or relate only to the skeleton of the book. With the exception of a few passages, they leave the contents untouched, and the responsibility for the latter rests entirely with the author. As translator I had resolved to keep myself in the background and act solely as the interpreter of the author. Much to my regret I found myself unable to maintain this attitude uniformly.

The text was already in type when it was borne in upon me that the subject of the book, dealing as it does with the lands of Eastern Europe, was a terra incognita to the average American reader, and that many things in it must perforce be wholly or partly unintelligible to him if left without an explanation. There was nothing for me to do but to step into the breach and supply the deficiency.

I did so by adding a number of footnotes, which, in distinction from those of the author, are placed in brackets.

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With very few exceptions these notes are not of a supplementary, but of an explanatory, nature. They are confined to such information as the reader may need to grasp the full bearing of the text. I trust that in some small measure these detached notes may serve instead of a systematic account of the general development of Eastern Europe, which, it was originally hoped, might be supplied by the authoritative pen of Mr.

Dubnow himself, as a background for the history of Russo-Polish Jewry. An attempt in this direction, within a narrow compass and with no pretense [6] to completeness, has been undertaken by the present writer in a recent publication of his own. A word must be said concerning the spelling of foreign names and terms, which are naturally numerous in a work like the present. After considerable deliberation I decided on the phonetic method, as being the most convenient from the point of view of the reader.

I have consequently endeavored to reproduce, as far as possible, the original sounds of all foreign words in English characters. In conformity with this principle, I have adopted the spelling Tzar , instead of Czar. As far as I am aware, the only exception is the Russian word ukase , which reflects in its spelling the effect of French transmission, and is to be pronounced ookaz , with the accent on the last syllable. Needless to say I have had to resort to artificial contrivances to indicate those sounds which are unknown in English, but I have reduced these contrivances to a minimum.

They are as follows: zh represents the Slavic sound which corresponds to French j ; kh stands for the sound which is to be pronounced like hard German ch as in lachen , not as in brechen ; tz is the equivalent of a Slavic letter which is to be pronounced like German z. To avoid mispronunciation, g in all foreign words has been spelled gh before e and i. U in these words is to be pronounced like oo , and a like French and short German a. With every desire for uniformity, I have yet little doubt that inconsistencies will be found, particularly in the transliteration of Hebrew, which, as a Semitic idiom, is more difficult of phonetic reproduction than are even the Slavic languages.

I hope that these inconsistencies are not numerous enough to be offensive.

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In some instances even the question of identity may arise. Thus, to quote but one example out of many, the name Chmielnicki , written in this form in Polish, differs considerably from the phonetic spelling Khmelnitzk i, adopted in this volume. To meet this difficulty, the index to this work will give all Polish names and expressions both in their transliterated English forms and in their original Polish spelling. In conclusion, it is my pleasant duty to record my appreciation of the help rendered me in my task. I am indebted to the Honorable Mayer Sulzberger for his great kindness in reading the proofs of this volume and in giving me the benefit of his subtle literary judgment.

Professor Alexander Marx has assisted me by reading the proofs and making a number of suggestions. My thanks are finally due to Miss Henrietta Szold for her indefatigable and most valuable co-operation. Putnam's Sons, To avoid any misconception on the part of the reader, I desire to point out that the aim and scope of my little volume are totally different from those of Mr. Dubnow's work. As indicated in the title of my sketch, and as stated in the preface to it, my purpose was none other than to present a "bird's-eye view" of the subject, to point out the large bearings of the problem, with no intention on my part "to offer new and independent results of investigation.

My natural reluctance to anticipate Mr. Dubnow's large work was overcome by the encouragement of several friends, among them Mr. Dubnow himself, who, from their knowledge of public affairs, thought that a succinct, popular presentation of the destinies of the Jews in the Eastern war area was a word in due season. From the point of view of antiquity the Jewish Diaspora in the east of Europe is the equal of that in the west, though vastly its inferior in geographic expansion and spiritual development. It is even possible that the settlement of Jews in the east of Europe antedates their settlement in the west.

For Eastern Europe, beginning with Alexander the Great, received its immigrants from the ancient lands of Hellenized Asia, while the immigration into Western Europe proceeded in the main from the Roman Empire, the heir to the Hellenic dominion of the East. Among the ancient Jewish settlements in Eastern Europe the colonies situated on the northern shores of the Black Sea, now forming a part of the Russian Empire, occupy a prominent place.

Far back in antiquity the Greeks of Asia Minor and the Ionian Islands gravitated towards the northern shores of the Pontus Euxinus, the fertile lands of Tauris—the present Crimea. When, after the conquests of Alexander the Great, Judea became a part of the Hellenistic Orient, and sent forth the "great Diaspora" into all the dominions of the Seleucids and Ptolemies, one of the branches of this Diaspora must have reached as far as distant Tauris. Following in the wake of the Greeks, the Jews wandered thither from Asia Minor, that conglomerate of countries and cities—Cilicia, Galatia, Miletus, Ephesus, Sardis, Tarsus—which harbored, at the beginning of the Christian era, important Jewish communities, the earliest nurseries of Christianity.

In the first century of the Christian era, which marks the consolidation of the Roman power over the Hellenized East, we meet in the Greek colonies of Tauris with fully organized Jewish communities, which undoubtedly represent offshoots of a much older colonization. The most active of these colonies was Bosporus-Panticapaeum, which was situated at the confluence of the Black and Azov Seas. The kings, or archonts, of Bosporus, of the Greek dynasty of the Rhescuporides, acknowledged the sovereignty of Rome.

They styled themselves, in accordance with the customary formula, "friends of the Caesars and the Romans," and frequently added to their title the Roman dynastic appellation "Tiberius-Julius. These words were written shortly after the downfall of Judea, about the year 80 of the Christian era.

Now from practically the same year date the Greek inscriptions which were discovered on the soil of ancient Bosporus in Tauris, testifying to the existence there of a well-organized Jewish community, with a house of prayer. The following is the text of one of these inscriptions, engraved on a marble tablet which is kept in the Hermitage of Petrograd:. The contents of the inscriptions enable us to draw the following conclusions bearing on the history of the Jews during that period:.

The Jewish community in Taurian Bosporus was made up of Hellenized Jews, who employed the Greek language in their religious and civil documents, and called themselves by Greek names Chresta, Drusus, Heracles, Artemisia, etc. While assimilated to the Greeks in point of language, they were firmly united among themselves by the bond of religion, as is shown by the obligation, imposed even on the freedman, the libertinus , to visit the house of prayer for worship. It is to be assumed that similar communities of Hellenized Jews were found in the other Greek colonies of Tauris, their population being constantly swelled by the influx of immigrants from Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt, particularly from Judeo-Hellenistic Alexandria.


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Since these communities of the first Christian century appear to have been well-organized and to have possessed their own institutions, we are safe in assuming that they were preceded by a more primitive phase of communal Jewish life, in the shape of petty settlements and trading stations, which must have arisen in earlier centuries.

From the first centuries of the Christian era date a number of tombstones bearing representations of the holy candlestick, the Menorah. The religious influence of Judaism in Tauris and in the Azov region is attested by various other indications. Towards the end of the third century we find in Chersonesus, near Sevastopol, Christian bishops wielding considerable power.

The exercise of this power was evidently responsible for the pagan rebellion of which we read in the lives of the Christian martyrs Basil and Capiton.

On the sixth of December of the year the pagan inhabitants rose in revolt against these two bishops and their fellow-missionaries, and were joined by the Jews, whom, it would seem, the zealots of the new faith had endeavored equally to drag into the bosom of the Church. The existence of a Jewish settlement in the Bosporan kingdom was also known to St. Jerome, the famous Church father, who lived at the end of the fourth century in far-off Palestine.

On the authority of his Jewish teacher he applied verse 20 in Obadiah, "and the captivity of Jerusalem which is in Sepharad," to the Taurian Bosporus, the remotest corner of the Jewish Diaspora. Commercial relations brought the Taurian colony into ever closer contact with the metropolis of Byzantium, and the Jews vied with the Greeks in the promotion of trade.

In the eighth century the Jewish population of these colonies was so numerous that the Byzantine chronicler Theophanes places the Jews in the forefront of the various groups of the population. These colonies were frequently visited by Christian missionaries, who endeavored to convert the native population to their faith, and incidentally also to win over the Jews. The Patriarchs of Constantinople were then hopeful of drawing the people of the Old Testament into the fold of the New. The Patriarch Photius, of the ninth century, writes thus to the Bishop of Bosporus Kerch : "Wert thou also to capture the Judeans there, securing their obedience unto Christ, I should welcome with my whole soul the fruits of such beautiful hopes.

The most illustrious of all Byzantine missionaries, Cyril and Methodius, had frequent occasion to quarrel with "the Judeans, who blaspheme the Christian faith," and the boastful ecclesiastic legend asserts that the holy brothers "by prayer and eloquence defeated the Judeans [in disputes] and put them to shame" about The struggle between the Christian missionaries and the Jews during that period had for its object the Khazar nation, part of whom had embraced Judaism. While Byzantium was pressing on the Euxine colonies from the west, endeavoring to draw them, together with the adjoining lands of the Slavs, into the sphere of Christian civilization, a new power from the east, from the Caucasus and the Caspian region, came rushing along in the same direction.

We refer to the Khazars, or Kazars. The great Arabic conquests of the seventh century and the rise of the powerful Eastern Caliphate checked the movement of the Khazars towards the East, and turned it westward, to the shores of the Caspian Sea, the mouths of the Volga and the Don, the Byzantine colonies on the Black and Azov Seas, and, in particular, the flourishing region of Tauris. At the mouth of the Volga, where the mighty river joins the Caspian Sea, near the present city of Astrakhan, arose the kingdom of the Khazars with its capital Ityl, the name originally designating the river Volga.

From there the bellicose Khazars made constant raids upon the Slavonian tribes far and near, to the very gates of Kiev, forcing them to become their tributaries. From the Crimea the Khazars pressed forward in the direction of Byzantium and the Balkan Peninsula, constituting a serious menace to the Roman Empire of the East. As a rule, the Byzantine emperors concluded alliances with the kings, or khagans, of the Khazars, checking their unbridled energy by means of concessions and the payment of tribute.

In Constantinople the illusion was fostered that the Church, and with it Byzantine diplomacy, were in the end bound to triumph over all the Khazars—by converting them to Christianity.

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With this purpose in view, missionaries were dispatched from Byzantium, while the local bishops of Tauris were working zealously to the same end. But the task proved extremely difficult, for the Greek Church found itself face to face with a powerful rival in Judaism, which succeeded in establishing its hold on a part of the Khazar nation. While yet in their pagan state, the Khazars were exposed at one and the same time to the influences of three religions: Mohammedanism, which pursued its triumphant march from the Arabic Caliphate; Christianity, which was spreading in Byzantium, and Judaism, which, headed by the Exilarchs and Gaons of Babylonia, was centered in the Caliphate, while its ramifications spread all over the Empire of Byzantium and its colonies on the Black Sea.

The Arabs and the Byzantines succeeded in converting several groups of the Khazar population to Islam and Christianity, but the lion's share fell to Judaism, for it managed to get hold of the royal dynasty and the ruling classes. The conversion of the Khazars to Judaism, which took place about , is described circumstantially in the traditions preserved among the Jews and in the accounts of the medieval Arabic travelers:.

The King, or Khagan, of the Khazars, by the name of Bulan, had resolved to abandon paganism, but was undecided as to the religion he should adopt instead.

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Messengers sent by the Caliph persuaded him to accept Islam, envoys from Byzantium endeavored to win him over to Christianity, and representatives of Judaism championed their own faith. As a result, Bulan arranged a disputation between the advocates of the three religions, to be held in his presence, but he failed to carry away any definite conviction from their arguments and mutual refutations. Thereupon the King invited first the Christian and then the Mohammedan, and questioned them separately.

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On asking the former which religion he thought was the better of the two, Judaism or Mohammedanism, he received the reply: Judaism, since it is the older of the two, and the basis of all religions. According to the Jewish sources, one of Bulan's descendants, the Khagan Obadiah, was a particularly zealous adherent of Judaism.