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Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall (1887-1985), painter, born in Vitebsk, Russia, and scenes of his native town are reflected in many of his pictures. He studied in St. Petersburg and moved to Paris in 1910, soon finding his place in what was then the art capital of the world.The outbreak of World War I found him in Vitebsk where he painted a series of joyous pictures following his marriage. For a time he was drafted into military service. After the 1917 Revolution, Chagall was appointed commissar of fine arts in Vitebsk and director of the Vitebsk Arts Academy. Becoming disillusioned with the official attitude to art, he moved to Moscow and designed sets and costumes for the new State Jewish Theater. In 1925 he left for Berlin and then returned to Paris. A 1931 visit to Eretz Israel inspired a series of biblical etchings. In World War II Chagall escaped to New York and in 1947 returned to France, living first in Paris and eventually made his home at Vence near Nice. He turned to new media and experiment including work in stained glass in many outstanding public buildings and tapestries. Chagall is renowned as a particularly Jewish artist but the appeal of his colorful and often magical paintings is universal

Date of birth:
1887
Date of death:
1985
Place of birth:
Vitebsk
Personality type:
Artists
ID Number:
188833
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Nearby places:
Related items:
CHAGALL, CHAGAL, SHAGAL

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a Hebrew acronym (a name created from the initial letters of a Hebrew phrase, and which refers to a relative, lineage or occupation).

Chaga(l)l and Shagal are variants of Segal. An abbreviation of the Hebrew 'Segan Leviyyah', which means "assistant of the priest", the family name Segal was originally a function and title. Changes in vocalization, and the trend of adjusting to the languages of the ethnic majorities among whom Jews lived in the Diaspora, produced variants such as Sagal and Sigal. Transliteration also led to forms which changed the meaning of the original name, for example Segel, the German for "sail", and Siegel, the German term for "seal". There are several apparently 'meaningless' or artificial names whose origins go back to Segal, among them Ziegelbaum, literally "brick tree" in German; Zygelberg, a Polish spelling of the German Ziegelberg, that is "brick mountain", and Segelbaum, whose literal meaning in German is "sail tree". A remarkable combination is represented by the compound name Seglersiegler, literally "sailor-sealer" in German, comprising two derivatives of Segal. Szegal is a spelling variant found in Hungary and Poland, and Chagall in France. Segalot is a French form derived from the German/Slavic Segalovitz, that is "Segal's son".

Distinguished bearers of the Jewish family name Chagall include the world-famous 20th century Russian-born French painter Marc Chagall (1887-1985), originally called Segal/Shagal.
Stained glass windows designed by Marc Chagall for the synagogue at the Hadassah Medical Center,
Ein Karem, Jerusalem 1987.
Photograph: Yakov Bril
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot)

Alex Leon (born Sándor Löwinger) (1907-1944), graphic artist and painter, born in Petrosani, Romania (then part of Austria-Hungary). His family moved to Oradea in 1916, where he was men's tailor apprentice, became a certified tailor in 1926. However, he was attracted by the artistic world and in 1928 he attended the art school in Baia Mare and then studied in Prague during 1930. As a lithographer he published two albums in Timisoara in 1934 and 1936. His first exhibition was held in Oradea in 1933, followed by others in Timisoara, Arad, Cluj, and Oradea. In 1936 he stayed in Paris, where he was a pupil of Marc Chagall. During late 1930s he lived in Brasov and then in Oradea.

After the annexation of Northern Transylvania in 1940, Jews of Oradea became victims of the anti-Semitic policies and persecutions of the Hungarian government. In 1942 Leon was recruited to forced labor battalions and sent to the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union. In January 1944, he managed to flee to the Soviet side, but having been ill with typhus and suffering from frostbitten feet, he died in March the same year.

Vitebsk

Віцебск

Capital of Vitebsk oblast, Belarus.

The first Jewish settlement appears to have been established in Vitebsk at the end of the 16th century. The charter given to the residents of Vitebsk in 1597 by Sigismund III Vasa forbids Jews "in accordance with long-held practice" to dwell within the town. Still, it appears that some Jews did live there, under the protection of the local nobility, both before and after 1597. The Jewish community developed, though not without conflict with the Christian population of the town over Jewish rights and privileges. In 1627 the local ruler S. Sangushko granted permission for the construction of a synagogue in the town. A document from the 17th century takes note of "the Jew's gate". During the war between Poland and the government of Moscow in 1654, Jews fought in the defense of the town. When it fell to the Russians, their property was confiscated and they were taken captive, not being released until peace was achieved with Poland (1687). Upon the Jews' return they had to enter into
Litigation with their neighbors who had appropriated their property. In 1679 King John III Sobieski granted a charter to the Jews, restoring their former privileges and promising them freedom of religion and commercial rights. This charter was renewed and confirmed by the kings of Poland in 1729 and 1759. In 1708, during the war with Sweden, the Jewish quarter of Vitebsk was destroyed by fire. The local residents then occupied the plot where the synagogue had been and built a church upon it. The Lithuanian supreme court ordered them to return the land to the Jews and pay damages of 13, 500 gold pieces. The Jewish community of Vitebsk was part of the "Council of the Lands". It was under the jurisdiction of the Brest-Litovsk community and through it was subject to the Lithuanian council. The Vitebsk Jewish community kept a Pinkas (minute book) from 1706.

With the first partition of Poland in 1772 Vitebsk was annexed to Russia. At that time the community numbered 1, 227 persons, or about a quarter of the town's population. Most of Vitebsk's trade in flax and tobacco was conducted with Riga by way of the Dvina river. With the completion of the Orel-Vitebsk-Dvinsk railroad during the 1860's the commerce of Vitebsk with regional towns and villages increased and the Jewish community grew accordingly. After their expulsion from Moscow in 1891 some of the Jews transferred their businesses to Vitebsk. In 1897 the town had 34, 420 Jews (52. 4% of the total population). Vitebsk was a stronghold of Orthodox Judaism, containing elements of Lithuanian Jewish scholarship, and even stronger Chasidic influences. At the end of the 18th century the founders of Lithuanian Chasidism, Menahem Mendel of Vitebsk and Shneur Zalman of Lyady, were active in the town. Strong Chabad Chasidic influences were present. The rabbi of the town from 1803 to 1860 was Yitzchak Isaac Behard, who was both Kazyonny Ravvin (government- appointed rabbi) and the choice of the Admor.

Jekuthiel Zalman Landau succeeded him in the rabbinate serving also as head of the Yeshivah of Vitebsk. After Landau moved to St. Petersburg the community did not select a new chief rabbi, as a result of a dispute between the Chasidim and Mitnaggedim. During the last years of the 19th century 72% of the school age children studied in the Cheder and Talmud Torah schools of Vitebsk.

The settlement of Jews in Vitebsk who had been expelled from Moscow strengthened the Haskalah elements in the town.

The Chibbat Zion movement began to develop, as did the socialist movement at a later date. Vitebsk was one of the first centers of the Bund. In 1901 the Zionist leader Grigori (Tzevi Hirsch) Bruck was selected as Kazyonny Ravvin of Vitebsk. He had great influence upon the life of the community, even after he was deposed by the authorities. This occurred as a result of his position as a delegate to the Duma, in which he signed the Wyborg proclamation. The Zionist and Po'alei Zion movements flourished, causing the Talmud Torah to be converted into a Hebrew school. After 1905 several private gymnasia opened in the town, most of the students being Jewish. The artist Y. Pen opened an art school which trained hundreds of young people, including Marc Chagall and S. Yudovin. S. An-ski and C. Zhitlovsky were both from Vitebsk. During world war in Vitebsk served as a way station for tens of thousands of Jews who had been expelled from Lithuania. Several thousand of them settled there
permanently.

With the advent of Soviet rule the Vitebsk Jewish community began to decline. Thousands of residents who had come from Lithuania and Latvia used their rights of relocation and emigrated from the Soviet Union. The Yevsektsiya established one of its centers in Belarus in Vitebsk, publishing the paper Der Royter Shtern ("the red star") until 1923. In 1921 a public trial "over the Cheder" was conducted in Vitebsk and several synagogues in the town were confiscated. The Vitebsk He-Chaluttz movement was harassed and came to an end during the middle of the 1920's.

Vitebsk had a semi-legal Chabad Yeshivah until 1930. In 1923 there were 39,714 Jews (43.7% of the total population). In 1926 there were 37,013 (37.5%). With the Nazi conquest of the town in July 1941 part of the Jewish population fled into the interior of Russia. The town was destroyed in a fire started by the retreating Red Army. The 16, 000 Jews who remained behind were imprisoned in a ghetto. On October 8, 1941 their systematic liquidation began. After the liberation of the town from the Germans Jews began to return. In the later 1960's the Jewish population was estimated at about 20, 000 but there was no synagogue.

New York City

The largest urban Jewish community in history; metropolitan area population 11,448,480 (1970), metropolitan area Jewish population 2,381,000 (1968), of which 1,836,000 live in the city itself.

The New York Jewish settlement began in 1654 with the arrival of 23 Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews from Recife, Brazil (a Dutch possession) who were defending the city from Portuguese attack. The director general of New Netherland, Peter Stuyvesant, did not welcome the Jews. They protested to their coreligionists in the Dutch West India company and privileges were granted them. However, they were not allowed to build a synagogue.

The surrender of New Amsterdam to the British in 1664 brought a number of changes to the Jewish settlement.

Generally, civil and religious rights were widened, Jews were permitted to hold and be elected to public office, and restrictions on the building of a synagogue were lifted.

"Shearit Israel", the first congregation in New York, was probably organized in 1706. Between 1729 and 1730, the congregation erected the first synagogue. During this period, the Jewish merchant took a major interest in the business of overseas trade. Jews were the first to introduce cocoa and chocolate to England and were heavily engaged in the coral, textile, and slave trades, and at times had virtual monopolies in the ginger trade.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, Jews represented between 1% and 2% of the total New York City population and in 1701, it is estimated that Jews comprised 12% of all businessmen who engaged in foreign trade.

The advent of the American revolution found the Jewish community divided. Some were supporters of the American cause, while others supported the British. The end of the revolution brought many distinct changes. Civil liberties, which were often a matter of governmental whim under the English, became part of the New York State constitution. Opportunities were expanded and new fields opened. One of the distinctive changes in post-war New York was Jewish involvement in the political life of the community, perhaps best seen in the career of Mordecai Manuel Noah, who was High Sheriff of New York in 1821.

The period after the revolutionary war also saw the proliferation of congregational organizations and divisions within the Jewish community as well as mutual aid societies and Landsmannshaften. There were also numerous fraternal orders founded, the most important being the independent order B'nai B'rith, founded in 1843. In 1852, "Jews' hospital" was founded, which later became known as Mount Sinai.

Beginning in the 1870's and continuing for half a century, great migration from Eastern Europe radically altered the demography, social structure, cultural life, and communal order of New York Jewry. During this period, more than 1,000,000 Jews settled in the city. They were overwhelmingly Yiddish speaking and impoverished. On their arrival, East European Jews found a Jewish settlement dominated by a group strikingly different in its cultural background, social standing, and communal outlook. By the 1870's, this older settlement had become middle class in outlook, mercantile in its economic base, and reform in group identity. In 1870, the less affluent and those whose occupations required it lived in the Southern Ward of the Lower East Side, while the German Jews moved half way up the East Side of Manhattan. The relocation of synagogues and the establishment of other Jewish institutions underscored this process of removal and social differentiation, thus dividing the Jewish populace into "uptown" and "downtown" Jews.

In the decade after the civil war, fathers and sons entered the dry-goods business and transformed their establishments Bloomingdale's, Altman's, Macy's, Stern's, Gimbel's, and Abraham and Strauss. A significant number of German Jews entered the field of investment banking. They also played a central role as entrepreneurs in the city's growing ready-made clothing industry. In 1888, of 241 such clothing manufacturers, 234 were Jewish. The immigrant Jews entered the apparel trade in great numbers because it was close at hand, required little training, and allowed the congeniality of working with one's own kind.

During the 1901-1909 period, the groundwork was laid for the emergence of an aggressive, responsible, and progressive Jewish labor movement. The socialist newspaper, "Forward", was developing into the most widely read Yiddish daily and became a major educational medium for the Jewish working class. The "uprising of the 20,000" - a strike of the waistmakers, mostly young women - in the fall of 1909, was followed by the "great revolt" of the cloakmakers a half year later. These strikes increased the numbers and stability of the international ladies garment workers' union (I.L.G.W.U.).

During the last third of the 19th century, the established community built - in addition to imposing temples - a number of large and progressive philanthropic institutions.

Two developments of major significance for the future course of orthodoxy in New York took place between 1910 and movement and in the year 1915 Yeshivat Etz Chaim and the Rabbi Elchanan theological seminary united.

The sharp rise in immigration after 1903 underscored the need for more rational use of the resources and communal wealth which the community possessed. Some downtown leaders recognized the ineffectualness of their own institutions.

In both sectors of the community, the alienation of the younger generation from Judaism and Jewish life was viewed with alarm. These concerns led to the development of the short-lived New York Kehillah, an attempt to create a united community structure. The immediate catalyst was the accusation of the New York police commissioner in 1908 that 50% of the criminals in the city were Jews. Led by Judah Magnus, a coalition of representative leaders established the Kehillah as a federation of Jewish organizations in 1909. Magnus served as chairman until its demise in 1922. The establishment in 1917 of the federation for the support of Jewish philanthropies proved more lasting than the Kehillah.

The Yiddish speaking masses who settled in New York created a rich and varied cultural life. Between 1872 and 1917, 150 journals in Yiddish appeared. The Yiddish theater reinforced the press.

During the 1920's, the New York Jewish unions entered areas of activity never previously known to U.S. trade unions. They conducted large scale adult education, health clinics, a bank, summer resorts, built modern urban housing, and generously subsidized struggling trade unions.

Jews constituted 51% of enrollment in the city's academic high schools in 1931, and 49.6% of the city's college and university students in 1935. Also by the 1930's, over half the city's doctors, lawyers, dentists, and public school teachers were Jews.

As the largest single ethnic group, Jews were a highly important factor in the political life of the city. In no other city could Jews as a group weigh so heavily in politics or were real or alleged Jewish political interest reckoned with so carefully.

In 1967, there were 539 orthodox, 184 conservative, 93 reform, and five unclassified synagogues known in Greater New York; all but 163 of the total were within the city's boundaries. Actual synagogue affiliation tended to be low, however. The city's conservative congregations leaned close to orthodoxy in which most of their members and leaders, at least before 1950, had been raised. The Jewish Theological Seminary is the focal institution of the conservatives and exercised broad spiritual influence in the Jewish and general community. Jewish education in New York followed nationwide trends in the slow disappearance of the Cheder, the rise and decline of the communal Talmud Torahs, and Yiddish schools in the period from 1915 to 1950.

The city of New York is home to the largest Jewish population in the entire United States. Behind the central districts of Israel, New York City has the highest number of Jews in any metropolitan area in the world. By 2013 there was approximately 1.5 – 1.7 million Jews living throughout New York City, accounting for nearly 18% of the city’s total population (8.3 million).

Serving the Jewish people of New York City are several organizations. Many of these focus on Jewish religious practice, healthcare, education and family services. Throughout the city’s five boroughs are many foundations which support local communities and advocate for Jewish and Israeli causes. Some of the major organizations include UJA Federation of New York, The Jewish Communal Fund, The World Jewish Congress, The American Jewish Congress, AJC (Global Jewish Advocacy), The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and COJECO, the Council of Jewish Émigré Community Organizations. There are additionally many local organizations that specialize in the needs of their respective communities, such as the Bensonhurst Council of Jewish Organizations, which is the oldest in New York City, the Bronx Jewish Community Council, the Crown Heights Community Council, the Council of Jewish Organizations of Flatbush, and the Boro Park Community council.

Found across New York City are hundreds of synagogues, representing nearly every movement within Judaism. While the majority of these are in permanent buildings, some are held in temporary places. Many of these are not found in directories. There is an estimated 50 Orthodox synagogues, 8 Conservative, 17 Reform, 2 Reconstructionist and 5-7 which are unaffiliated with any particular movement. Among the wide range of Jewish educational services, are more than 350 private Jewish day schools which serve over 140,000 students. These include 191 high schools, 247 elementary schools and 159 preschools. Outside of school are many programs for Jewish youth, such as the Bnei Akiva Religious Zionist Youth Movement, Friends of Israel Scouts (Tzofim) and Young Judea.

New York City is well known for its numerous cultural institutions and museums. Many are internationally known and visited by thousands every year. Among those of which are culturally focused, are several Jewish museums and Holocaust memorials, such as the Anne Frank Center (USA), Bernard Museum of Judaica, and The Center for Jewish History. Other museums include the Derfner Judaica Museum, Museum of Jewish Heritage, Jewish Museum (New York), Living Torah Museum, Yeshiva University Museum and the Jewish Children’s Museum. New York City also has many Jewish cultural centers including the JCC Manhattan, YIVO (Institute for Jewish Research), the Leo Baeck Institute, the American Jewish Historical Society and the American Sephardi Federation.

Significant Jewish immigration began in the late 1800s with major waves taking place between 1881 and 1945. Additional waves of Jewish immigration began following the establishment of the State of Israel. During the 1950s and 1960s as many as 300,000 Israelis immigrated to the United States. Israeli Immigration continued throughout the 1970s and has ever since. By 2000, approximately 30,000 Israeli Jews were living in New York City. The Israeli community is well known for its entrepreneurship, having opened many startups and branches of existing Israeli businesses. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, new waves of Jewish immigrants began arriving to New York City. In the 1980s and 1990s, the city’s Jewish population was greatly augmented by the Jews of Eastern and Central Europe and the Caucasus region. These included the Georgian and Bukharian communities as well as Ashkenazi Jews from the Baltic Republics, Moldova and the Ukraine. In 2012, the more than 350,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union in New York City were Jewish.

Over generations, Jews have developed various communities throughout New York City creating several Jewish enclaves. Boro Park in Brooklyn for example is home to the largest Orthodox community in the world. Other notable Jewish neighborhoods include Crown Heights, Flatbush, Williamsburg and Midwood Brooklyn, Forest Hills and Fresh Meadows Queens, the Upper East and Upper West Side as well as Lower East Side in Manhattan, and the predominantly Hasidic neighborhoods of Willowbrook, New Springville, Eltingville and New Brighton.

Serving these neighborhoods as well as the rest of New York are several hospitals and health care facilities which were established by the Jewish community. In addition to Mount Sinai, one of New York’s oldest and largest hospitals, are several medical centers including Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, the Montefiore Medical Center, Beth Israel Medical Center, Maimonides Medical Center, the Sephardic Bikur Holim, Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Jewish Home Life Care, and the Hebrew Home for the aged. Found throughout these Jewish neighborhoods are many historic landmarks. In some cases, the neighborhoods themselves are the landmarks. The Lower East Side is a perfect example. Others include historic synagogues such as the Kehila Kedosha Janina, the only Romaniote (Greek) synagogue in the entire western hemisphere, or the Eldridge Street Synagogue, the first Eastern European Orthodox synagogue. Another group of landmarks include famous restaurants like Katz’s Delicatessen and Streit’s Matzo Company.

Since early Jewish immigration, New York City’s Jewish leaders developed foundations to keep medical centers like communal organizations alive. A number of Jewish Federations are overseen by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Other funding and support come from organizations like the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life, the Jewish Communal Fund, Hadassah, Yeshiva University and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Being a community that numbers nearly 2 million, the Jews of New York City enjoy several Jewish media outlets, including radio and print news. Notable periodicals include the Jewish Week and the Jewish Post of New York. Others include the Manhattan Jewish Sentinel, the Long Island Jewish World and Five Towns Jewish Times. There is even a Yiddish language newspaper known as The Jewish Daily Forward.   

St. Petersburg

Санкт-Петербург; also known as Petrograd 1914-1924, and Leningrad 1924-1991

Capital of Russia until 1918. An industrial city and major port on the Baltic Sea.

CONTEMPORARY HISTORY

The Jewish community of St. Petersburg is the second-largest in Russia. Mass emigration reduced the Jewish population from 107,000 in 1989 to about 40,000 in 2002. A 2010 census revealed that these numbers did not change considerably and that the number of Jewish residents in St. Petersburg has remained at around 40,000 people. Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union the Jews of St. Petersburg were in many ways disconnected from Jewish culture. However, since the end of communism in Russia, St. Petersburg has emerged as a vibrant Jewish community. While a significant segment of the community remains uncomfortable with, and not entirely open about, its Jewishness, an increasing number of the city's Jews identify as Jewish and have begun observing Jewish traditions and rituals.

Jews began arriving in St. Petersburg during the second half of the 19th century, primarily from the "Pale of Residence", which was made up of modern-day Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Moldova, and Lithuania. This time was marked by intense Russification, which included a high rate of mixed marriages and conversions to Christianity. Most of the Jews of St. Petersburg have lived in the city for generations, though there are many who have arrived more recently from other locations within Russia and the region, including the Ukraine, the Caucasus, and Georgia. Since the restriction on emigration was lifted in 1989, as many as 230,000 Jews left for Israel.

Two umbrella organizations serve both the community of St. Petersburg and Russian Jewry more generally: the Federation of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Russia, and The Russian-Jewish Congress. With the support of foreign Jewish philanthropy, several Jewish welfare programs, as well as a full range of religious and educational institutions, have been developed in St. Petersburg. Russia's network of Jewish educational institutions includes four Jewish universities, which are mainly located in St. Petersburg and Moscow. A number of smaller religious and social organizations have been established by young Jews in their twenties and thirties. Events such as the Jewish festival take place annually in the community. St. Petersburg has also been host to annual events and conferences organized by Limmud FSU, an organization which specializes in meeting the cultural needs of the Jewish communities of the former Soviet Union (FSU). Since 2011 these conferences have attracted hundreds of Jews from St. Petersburg, providing a safe environment for Jewish youth to learn more about their Jewish heritage. Jewish newspapers and Russian-language media have emerged in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and other cities with smaller organized Jewish communities.

The vast majority of Russian Jewry, including the community of St. Petersburg, is secular and defines their Jewishness in cultural rather than religious terms. Of the religiously observant Jews in St. Petersburg, most are Orthodox. In an effort to support the resurgence in religious observance, many rabbis from outside Russia have been brought to St. Petersburg. The Chabad-Lubavitch movement has been very active in the community since the end of the 20th century, and the Reform and Conservative streams of Judaism have also been introduced.

The central hub of Jewish life in St. Petersburg is the Yesod Jewish Community Center (JCC). Opened in 2005, the facility houses six of the community's major Jewish organizations, including the Hesed Avraam Charity Center, Adain Lo Family Center, Hillel Student Center, the Granatik Children Center, ORT, and the Library & Eitan Jewish Education Center. Additionally, the JCC offers many cultural and educational programs. It holds lectures, sponsors events, and includes its own Sunday school.

The most notable synagogue in St. Petersburg is the Grand Choral Synagogue. Constructed in the Moorish Revival-Byzantine style between 1880 and 1888, and consecrated in 1893, the Grand Choral is the second-largest synagogue in Europe. Prior to its construction, a synagogue large enough to serve the entire Jewish community in Russia's then-capital did not exist. However, the synagogue could only be built after obtaining a building permit from Tsar Alexander II in 1869.

Located in the Russian Museum of Ethnography is an exhibit dedicated to Russian Jewry. The exhibit "History and Culture of the Jewish people of the Territory of Russia" is considered by many in the community to be the first step toward the development of a completely separate Jewish museum. As one of the city's important cultural institutions, the museum attracts visitors from all over Russia, including Jews from neighboring countries.

Another significant Jewish landmark is the Holocaust memorial, located in Tsarskoye Selo. The monument stands just 500 meters from Catherin's palace where the Jewish ghetto was located during the Second World War.

One of the oldest points of Jewish interest in the city is St. Petersburg's Jewish cemetery. Founded in 1875, the cemetery serves as the burial place for several historical figures such as the sculptor Mark Antokolsky, the 19th century scientist and Jewish community leader David Ginsburg, and Abraham Lubanov, who served as the head rabbi of the St. Petersburg Synagogue during World War II.

HISTORY

There is evidence that there were some Marranos who settled in St. Petersburg soon after it was in 1703 by Peter the Great. "The Portuguese Jew," Jan DaCosta (who was actually a converso), was one of the jesters at the royal court during the first half of the 18th century. The city's first police chief was also a converso from the Netherlands. Otherwise, Jews were not allowed to live in the city. Additionally, Czarina Elizabeth issued intolerant decrees against the Jews, and the few Jews who were living in St. Petersburg were forced to leave. Catherine II (Catherine the Great), on the other hand, was interested in attracting Jewish contractors, industrialists, and physicians to the city, and therefore issued instructions to the authorities to overlook the presence of the "useful" Jews living there with their families and assistants and had the protection of court officials. It was Catherine II who, after the partitions of Poland in the late 18th century, created the Pale of Settlement, territories in which the Jews of the Russian Empire were permitted to settle permanently (unless they had special permission to settle elsewhere).

With the partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, St. Petersburg became a center for the millions of Jews who were incorporated into the Russian Empire. The city quickly became a destination for upper class Jews, both the "useful" Jews—the army veterans, artisans, and wealthy merchants who had official permission to live outside of the Pale—as well as the Jews who settled in St. Petersburg illegally. The leader of Chabad Chasidism, Shneur Zalman of Lyady, was imprisoned in St. Petersburg from 1798 until 1800/1801.

The situation of the Jews worsened with the accession of Czar Nicholas I. In 1827 he issued the Statute on Conscription Duty, which imposed a draft on the Jews of Russia and cancelled the earlier provision that allowed Jews to pay a monetary random instead of submitting to the draft. The draftees would have to serve 25 years, and would fall on Jewish boys and men between the ages of 12 and 25 (as opposed to the general population, in which men 18 to 35 were eligible for the draft). The idea was to modernize and Russify the Jewish population, and became a communal crisis, particularly for the more traditional Jewish communities.

The situation shifted again with the reign of Alexander II. "Useful" Jews, such as army veterans, university graduates, artisans, and upper-class merchants were once again allowed to legally settle in St. Petersburg. By the end of Alexander II's reign in 1881 there were 17,253 Jews in St. Petersburg, making up approximately 2% of the population. Upper class Jews, including the barons of the Guenzburg family became the de facto leaders and representatives before the Central Government.

Several figures held the position of Kazyonnyy Ravin (Government-Appointed Rabbi) in St. Petersburg, including the German-born Abraham Neiman, Avram Drabkin, and Moshe Eisenstadt. Other rabbis who were not officially appointed, yet who led the Jews of the community, were Yitshak Blaser, Yekutiel Zalman Landau, and David Tevel Katzenellenbogen. After 24 years of dealing with bureaucracy and construction, the magnificent Grand Choral Synagogue was completed and consecrated in 1893. It was built in the Moorish style, and contained 1,200 seats. In spite of this triumph, it is important to note that with the opening of the Grand Choral Synagogue, all of the other existing sanctuaries needed to be closed, and their congregants were compelled to pray only in the Grand Choral Synagogue.

The Yiddish, Russian, and Hebrew Jewish presses were centered in St. Petersburg from the 1870s until the revolution in 1905. The newspapers HaMelitz (1871-1873, 1878-1904), HaYom (1886-1888). Dos Yudishes Folksblat (1881-1890) and the first Russian daily newspaper in Yiddish, Der Fraynd (1903-1908), were all published out of St. Petersburg. The city was also the center of Russian-Jewish journalism and literature. One of the most outstanding publications was the Russian-Jewish encyclopedia, Yevreyskaya Entsiklopediya, which was published in 1908.

In spite of censorship, exclusions, and unremitting police persecutions, the community continued to grow, numbering 35,000 (1.8% of the city's population) in 1914.

Many national Jewish organizations located their headquarters in St. Petersburg. The oldest of these organizations was The Society for the Promotion of Culture Among the Jews of Russia, which was founded in 1863. Others included ORT, the Jewish Colonization Association (ICA), the Chovevei Sefat Ever (renamed "Tarbut" after the 1917 Revolution), the Historical-Ethnographic Society, and the Society for Jewish Folk Music. Additionally, a number of institutions in the city housed various objects of Jewish interest. The city's Asian Museum housed a valuable Hebrew department. The Imperial Public Library contained one of the world's oldest and most important collections of Hebrew manuscripts. Under the initiative of Baron David Guenzburg, courses in Oriental Studies were opened in St. Petersburg in 1907. The concentration of public and cultural institutions in the city attracted Jewish authors and intellectuals, including A.A Harkavy, Judah Leib Katzenelson, Simon Dubnow, and father and son Michael and Eugene M. Kulisher.

World War I saw the Jewish population of Petrograd swell to more than 50,000 because of Jews fleeing from the battlefields within the Pale of Settlement, or Jews being expelled by the Russian army who accused them of collaborating with the Germans and Austrians. The influx of Jewish refugees was overwhelming to the city's Jewish residents, though they nonetheless attempted to accommodate them through organizations such as the Jewish Society for the Relief of War Victims.

After the February Revolution of 1917, all residence restrictions affecting the Jews of Petrograd were abolished. As a result, the city became a center for the activities of the diverse parties and factions within Russian Jewry. In June 1917, the Seventh Conference of the Zionist Organization of Russia was held in the city, and plans were also made to convene an All-Russian Jewish Congress in Petrograd. These improvements in Jewish life and national status were, however, short-lived. With the Bolshevik Revolution in October 1917, all Jewish political parties (along with any other non-Bolshevik parties) were forced underground. The center of government moved from Petrograd to Moscow, leaving the city's Jews far from the nation's political center. The transfer of the capital from Petrograd to Moscow in 1918, as well as the shortages and famine that affected the city during the Russian Civil War, severely shook the Jewish community, and many Jews returned to the provincial towns. It was during this difficult period that Joseph Trumpeldor created a Jewish battalion for the purposes of Jewish self-defense. Additionally, he founded the youth organization He-Halutz, to prepare Jewish youth for emigration to Palestine.

By 1920 there were 25,453 Jews (3.5% of the total population) living in Petrograd. With the consolidation of the Soviet regime, the number of Jews rapidly increased, to 52,373 in 1923 (4.9% of the total population), and 84,505 in 1926 (5.2% of the population).

A small group of Russian-Jewish intellectuals attempted to continue their literary and scientific work under the new regime. They worked to sustain their former cultural societies, and continued to publish scientific and literary periodicals. By the end of the 1920s, when these projects were shut down by the Soviet regime, many of these intellectuals left Russia, including Simon Dubnow and Saul M. Ginzburg. Nearly a decade later, by the end of the 1930s, the remaining Communist Jewish organizations had also been suppressed, as had public expressions of Jewish identity.

On the eve of the Nazi invasion, the number of Jews in Leningrad was estimated at about 200,000 people. During World War II, the Jews shared in the suffering and starvation during the German siege of the city. The author, literary critic, and historian Lidiya Yakovlevna Ginzburg was among the survivors of the siege of Leningrad.

In the census of 1959, 162,344 Jews were registered as living in Leningrad, but the real number was probably closer to 200,000. 13,728 of these respondents declared Yiddish as their mother tongue. The city's only synagogue was the Grand Choral Synagogue, which was still standing in spite of having been bombed by the Nazis in 1941 and 1943. During the 1950s Gedalia Pecherski was the chairman of the synagogue's board. Pecherski was not only devoted to the religious needs of the congregation, he also sent petitions to the Soviet government and the municipal authorities asking to be allowed to organize courses in subjects such as Hebrew and Jewish history. These petitions were always summarily rejected. Pecherski was arrested in 1961 and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment, ostensibly for having "maintained contact with a foreign embassy [i.e Israel]." The rabbi of the synagogue, RabbiAbram Lubanov, who had been imprisoned in a forced labor camp during the Stalin era, was the dwindling congregation's spiritual leader.

In 1962-1964, as in other parts of the USSR, matzah-baking in the Leningrad synagogue was discontinued by the authorities. In 1962, on the eve of Simchat Torah, 25 Jewish youths were arrested while dancing in the street near the synagogue. In 1963 the authorities prohibited the use of the Jewish cemetery, which was ultimately closed in 1969.

In spite of the assimilation and population decline among Leningrad's Jews, they nonetheless took on an important role in the refusenik movement and the Jewish national revival that began to stir in the Soviet Union. After the Six Day War in 1967, Jewish youth more openly displayed their identification with Israel, in spite of the official Soviet anti-Israel campaign. Many began studying Hebrew in private underground groups, others protested publicly against the government's refusal to grant them exit permits for Israel. These protests were publicized abroad, and helped galvanize Jewish communities worldwide to help their Soviet brethren. Many of these activities led to the arrest and imprisonment of these young activists. Another group of young Jews, mostly from Riga, together with 2 non-Jews, were tried in Leningrad in December 1970 for allegedly planning to hijack a Soviet plane in order to land abroad and ultimately reach Israel. Two were sentenced to death, and the other to prison terms of 4-15 years. These sentences led to worldwide protests. On appeal in March, 1971, the Supreme Court of the Russian Republic commuted the death sentences to 15 years of hard labor, and some of the other sentences were reduced.

With the collapse of communism, St. Petersburg saw a Jewish communal revival. Chabad is particularly active in the city, and events such as Limmud FSU help St. Petersburg's Jews reconnect with their Jewish roots.

Paris

Capital of France

In 582, the date of the first documentary evidence of the presence of Jews in Paris, there was already a community with a synagogue. In 614 or 615, the sixth council of Paris decided that Jews who held public office, and their families, must convert to Christianity. From the 12th century on there was a Jewish quarter. According to one of the sources of Joseph ha- Kohen's Emek ha-Bakha, Paris Jews owned about half the land in Paris and the vicinity. They employed many Christian servants and the objects they took in pledge included even church vessels.

Far more portentous was the blood libel which arose against the Jews of Blois in 1171. In 1182, Jews were expelled. The crown confiscated the houses of the Jews as well as the synagogue and the king gave 24 of them to the drapers of Paris and 18 to the furriers. When the Jews were permitted to return to the kingdom of France in 1198 they settled in Paris, in and around the present rue Ferdinand Duval, which became the Jewish quarter once again in the modern era.

The famous disputation on the Talmud was held in Paris in 1240. The Jewish delegation was led by Jehiel b. Joseph of Paris. After the condemnation of the Talmud, 24 cart-loads of Jewish books were burned in public in the Place de Greve, now the Place de l'Hotel de Ville. A Jewish moneylender called Jonathan was accused of desecrating the host in 1290. It is said that this was the main cause of the expulsion of 1306.

Tax rolls of the Jews of Paris of 1292 and 1296 give a good picture of their economic and social status. One striking fact is that a great many of them originated from the provinces. In spite of the prohibition on the settlement of Jews expelled from England, a number of recent arrivals from that country are listed. As in many other places, the profession of physician figures most prominently among the professions noted. The majority of the rest of the Jews engaged in moneylending and commerce. During the same period the composition of the Jewish community, which numbered at least 100 heads of families, changed to a large extent through migration and the number also declined to a marked degree. One of the most illustrious Jewish scholars of medieval France, Judah b. Isaac, known as Sir Leon of Paris, headed the yeshiva of Paris in the early years of the 13th century. He was succeeded by Jehiel b. Joseph, the Jewish leader at the 1240 disputation. After the wholesale destruction of
Jewish books on this occasion until the expulsion of 1306, the yeshivah of Paris produced no more scholars of note.

In 1315, a small number of Jews returned and were expelled again in 1322. The new community was formed in Paris in 1359. Although the Jews were under the protection of the provost of Paris, this was to no avail against the murderous attacks and looting in 1380 and 1382 perpetrated by a populace in revolt against the tax burden. King Charles VI relieved the Jews of responsibility for the valuable pledges which had been stolen from them on this occasion and granted them other financial concessions, but the community was unable to recover. In 1394, the community was struck by the Denis de Machaut affair. Machaut, a Jewish convert to Christianity, had disappeared and the Jews were accused of having murdered him or, at the very least, of having imprisoned him until he agreed to return to Judaism. Seven Jewish notables were condemned to death, but their sentence was commuted to a heavy fine allied to imprisonment until Machaut reappeared. This affair was a prelude to the "definitive" expulsion of the Jews from France in 1394.

From the beginning of the 18th century the Jews of Metz applied to the authorities for permission to enter Paris on their business pursuits; gradually the periods of their stay in the capital increased and were prolonged. At the same time, the city saw the arrival of Jews from Bordeaux (the "Portuguese") and from Avignon. From 1721 to 1772 a police inspector was given special charge over the Jews.
After the discontinuation of the office, the trustee of the Jews from 1777 was Jacob Rodrigues Pereire, a Jew from Bordeaux, who had charge over a group of Spanish and Portuguese Jews, while the German Jews (from Metz, Alsace, and Loraine) were led by Moses Eliezer Liefman Calmer, and those from Avignon by Israel Salom. The German Jews lived in the poor quarters of Saint-Martin and Saint-Denis, and those from Bordeaux, Bayonne, and Avignon inhabited the more luxurious quarters of Saint Germaine and Saint André.

Large numbers of the Jews eked out a miserable living in peddling. The more well-to-do were moneylenders, military purveyors and traders in jewels. There were also some craftsmen among them. Inns preparing kosher food existed from 1721; these also served as prayer rooms. The first publicly acknowledged synagogue was opened in rue de Brisemiche in 1788. The number of Jews of Paris just before the revolution was probably no greater than 500. On Aug. 26, 1789 they presented the constituent assembly with a petition asking for the rights of citizens. Full citizenship rights were granted to the Spanish, Portuguese, and Avignon Jews on Jan. 28, 1790.

After the freedom of movement brought about by emancipation, a large influx of Jews arrived in Paris, numbering 2,908 in 1809. When the Jewish population of Paris had reached between 6,000 and 7,000 persons, the Consistory began to build the first great synagogue. The Consistory established its first primary school in 1819.

The 30,000 or so Jews who lived in Paris in 1869 constituted about 40% of the Jewish population of France. The great majority originated from Metz, Alsace, Lorraine, and Germany, and there were already a few hundreds from Poland. Apart from a very few wealthy capitalists, the great majority of the Jews belonged to the middle economic level. The liberal professions also attracted numerous Jews; the community included an increasing number of professors, lawyers, and physicians. After 1881 the Jewish population increased with the influx of refugees from Poland, Russia, and the Slav provinces of Austria and Romania. At the same time, there was a marked increase in the anti-Semitic movement. The Dreyfus affair, from 1894, split the intellectuals of Paris into "Dreyfusards" and "anti-Dreyfusards" who frequently clashed on the streets, especially in the Latin Quarter. With the law separating church and state in 1905, the Jewish consistories lost their official status, becoming no more than private religious associations. The growing numbers of Jewish immigrants to Paris resented the heavy hand of a Consistory, which was largely under the control of Jews from Alsace and Lorraine, now a minority group. These immigrants formed the greater part of the 13,000 "foreign" Jews who enlisted in World War 1. Especially after 1918, Jews began to arrive from north Africa, Turkey, and the Balkans, and in greatly increased numbers from eastern Europe. Thus in 1939 there were around 150,000 Jews in Paris (over half the total in France). The Jews lived all over the city but there were large concentrations of them in the north and east. More than 150 landmanschaften composed of immigrants from eastern Europe and many charitable societies united large numbers of Jews, while at this period the Paris Consistory (which retained the name with its changed function) had no more than 6,000 members.

Only one of the 19th-century Jewish primary schools was still in existence in 1939, but a few years earlier the system of Jewish education which was strictly private in nature acquired a secondary school and a properly supervised religious education, for which the Consistory was responsible. Many great Jewish scholars were born and lived in Paris in the modern period. They included the Nobel Prize winners Rene Cassin and A. Lwoff. On June 14, 1940, the Wehrmacht entered Paris, which was proclaimed an open city. Most Parisians left, including the Jews. However, the population returned in the following weeks. A sizable number of well-known Jews fled to England and the USA. (Andre Maurois), while some, e.g. Rene Cassin and Gaston Palewski, joined General de Gaulle's free French movement in London. Parisian Jews were active from the very beginning in resistance movements. The march to the etoile on Nov. 11, 1940, of high school and university students, the first major public manifestation of resistance, included among its organizers Francis Cohen, Suzanne Dijan, and Bernard Kirschen.

The first roundups of Parisian Jews of foreign nationality took place in 1941; about 5,000 "foreign" Jews were deported on May 14, about 8,000 "foreigners" in August, and about 100 "intellectuals" on December 13. On July 16, 1942, 12,884 Jews were rounded up in Paris (including about 4,000 children). The Parisian Jews represented over half the 85,000 Jews deported from France to extermination camps in the east. During the night of Oct. 2-3, 1941, seven Parisian synagogues were attacked.

Several scores of Jews fell in the Paris insurrection in August, 1944. Many streets in Paris and the outlying suburbs bear the names of Jewish heroes and martyrs of the Holocaust period and the memorial to the unknown Jewish martyr, a part of the Centre de documentation juive contemporaire, was erected in in 1956 in the heart of Paris.

Between 1955 and 1965, the Jewish community experienced a demographic transformation with the arrival of more than 300,000 Sephardi Jews from North Africa. These Jewish immigrants came primarily from Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. At the time, Morocco and Tunisia were French protectorates unlike Algeria which was directly governed by France. Since their arrival, the Sephardi Jews of North Africa have remained the majority (60%) of French Jewry.

In 1968 Paris and its suburbs contained about 60% of the Jewish population of France. In 1968 it was estimated at between 300,000 and 350,000 (about 5% of the total population). In 1950, two-thirds of the Jews were concentrated in about a dozen of the poorer or commercial districts in the east of the city. The social and economic advancement of the second generation of east European immigrants, the influx of north Africans, and the gradual implementation of the urban renewal program caused a considerable change in the once Jewish districts and the dispersal of the Jews throughout other districts of Paris.

Between 1957 and 1966 the number of Jewish communities in the Paris region rose from 44 to 148. The Paris Consistory, traditionally presided over by a member of the Rothschild family, officially provides for all religious needs. Approximately 20 synagogues and meeting places for prayer observing Ashkenazi or Sephardi rites are affiliated with the Consistory, which also provides for the religious needs of new communities in the suburbs. This responsibility is shared by traditional orthodox elements, who, together with the reform and other independent groups, maintain another 30 or so synagogues. The orientation and information office of the Fonds social juif unifie had advised or assisted over 100,000 refugees from north Africa. It works in close cooperation with government services and social welfare and educational institutions of the community. Paris was one of the very few cities in the diaspora with a full-fledged Israel-type school, conducted by Israeli teachers according to an Israeli curriculum.

The Six-Day War (1967), which drew thousands of Jews into debates and
Pro-Israel demonstrations, was an opportunity for many of them to reassess their personal attitude toward the Jewish people. During the "students' revolution" of 1968 in nearby Nanterre and in the Sorbonne, young Jews played an outstanding role in the leadership of left-wing activists and often identified with Arab anti-Israel propaganda extolling the Palestinian organizations. Eventually, however, when the "revolutionary" wave subsided, it appeared that the bulk of Jewish students in Paris, including many supporters of various new left groups, remained loyal to Israel and strongly opposed Arab terrorism.

As of 2015, France was home to the third largest Jewish population in the world. It was also the largest in all of Europe. More than half the Jews in France live in the Paris metropolitan area. According to the World Jewish Congress, an estimated 350,000 Jews live in the city of Paris and its many districts. By 2014, Paris had become the largest Jewish city outside of Israel and the United States. Comprising 6% of the city’s total population (2.2 million), the Jews of Paris are a sizeable minority.

There are more than twenty organizations dedicated to serving the Jewish community of Paris. Several offer social services while others combat anti-Semitism. There are those like the Paris Consistory which financially supports many of the city's congregations. One of the largest organizations is the Alliance Israélite Universelle which focuses on self-defense, human rights and Jewish education. The FSJU or Unified Social Jewish Fund assists in the absorption of new immigrants. Other major organizations include the ECJC (European Council of Jewish Communities), EAJCC (European Association of Jewish Communities), ACIP (Association Consitoriale Israelité), CRIF (Representative Council of Jewish Institutions), and the UEJF (Jewish Students Union of France).

Being the third largest Jewish city behind New York and Los Angeles, Paris is home to numerous synagogues. By 2013, there were more than eighty three individual congregations. While the majority of these are orthodox, many conservative and liberal congregations can be found across Paris. During the 1980s, the city received an influx of orthodox Jews, primarily as a result of the Lubavitch movement which has since been very active in Paris and throughout France.

Approximately 4% of school-age children in France are enrolled in Jewish day schools. In Paris, there are over thirty private Jewish schools. These include those associated with both the orthodox and liberal movements. Chabad Lubavitch has established many educational programs of its own. The Jewish schools in Paris range from the pre-school to High School level. There are additionally a number of Hebrew schools which enroll students of all ages.

Among countless cultural institutions are museums and memorials which preserve the city's Jewish history. Some celebrate the works of Jewish artists while others commemorate the Holocaust and remember its victims. The Museum of Jewish art displays sketches by Mane-Katz, the paintings of Alphonse Levy and the lithographs of Chagall. At the Center of Contemporary Jewish Documentation (CDJC), stands the Memorial de la Shoah. Here, visitors can view the center's many Holocaust memorials including the Memorial of the Unknown Jewish Martyrs, the Wall of Names, and the Wall of the Righteous Among the Nations. Located behind the Notre Dame is the Memorial of Deportation, a memorial to the 200,000 Jews who were deported from Vichy France to the Nazi concentration camps. On the wall of a primary school on rue Buffault is a plaque commemorating the 12,000 Parisian Jewish children who died in Auschwitz following their deportation from France between 1942 and 1944.

For decades, Paris has been the center of the intellectual and cultural life of French Jewry. The city offers a number of institutions dedicated to Jewish history and culture. Located at the Alliance Israélite Universalle is the largest Jewish library in all of Europe. At the Bibliothèque Medem is the Paris Library of Yiddish. The Mercaz Rashi is home to the University Center for Jewish Studies, a well known destination for Jewish education. One of the most routinely visited cultural centers in Paris is the Chabad House. As of 2014, it was the largest in the world. The Chabad House caters to thousands of Jewish students from Paris and elsewhere every year.

Located in the city of Paris are certain districts, many of them historic, which are well known for their significant Jewish populations. One in particular is Le Marais “The Marsh”, which had long been an aristocratic district of Paris until much of the city’s nobility began to move. By the end of the 19th century, the district had become an active commercial area. It was at this time that thousands of Ashkenazi Jews fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe began to settle Le Marais, bringing their specialization in clothing with them. Arriving from Romania, Austria, Hungary and Russia, they developed a new community alongside an already established community of Parisian Jews. As Jewish immigration continued into the mid 20th century, this Jewish quarter in the fourth arrondissement of Paris became known as the “Pletzl”, a Yiddish term meaning “little place”. Despite having been targeted by the Nazis during World War II, the area has continued to be a major center of the Paris Jewish community. Since the 1990s, the area has grown. Along the Rue des Rosiers are a number of Jewish restaurants, bookstores, kosher food outlets and synagogues. Another notable area with a sizeable Jewish community is in the city’s 9th district. Known as the Faubourg-Montmarte, it is home to several synagogues, kosher restaurants as well as many offices to a number of Jewish organizations.

With centuries-old Jewish neighborhoods, Paris has its share of important Jewish landmarks. Established in 1874 is the Rothschild Synagogue and while it may not be ancient, its main attraction is its rabbis who are well known for being donned in Napoleonic era apparel. The synagogue on Rue Buffault opened in 1877 and was the first synagogue in Paris to adopt the Spanish/Portuguese rite. Next to the synagogue is a memorial dedicated to the 12,000 children who perished in the Holocaust. The Copernic synagogue is the city’s largest non-orthodox congregation. In 1980 it was the target of an anti-Semitic bombing which led to the death of four people during the celebration of Simchat Torah, the first attack against the Jewish people in France since World War II. In the 1970s, the remains of what many believed to have been a Yeshiva were found under the Rouen Law Courts. Just an hour outside of Paris, this site is presumed to be from the 12th century when Jews comprised nearly 20% of the total population.

Serving many of the medical needs of the Jewish community of Paris are organizations such as the OSE and CASIP. While the Rothschild hospital provides general medical care, the OSE or Society for the Health of the Jewish Population, offers several health centers around the city. CASIP focuses on providing the community social services include children and elderly homes.

Being a community of nearly 400,000 people, the Jews of Paris enjoy a diversity of media outlets centered on Jewish culture. Broadcasted every week are Jewish television programs which include news and a variety of entertainment. On radio are several stations such as Shalom Paris which airs Jewish music, news and programming. Circulating throughout Paris are two weekly Jewish papers and a number of monthly journals. One of the city’s major newspapers is the Actualité Juive. There are also online journals such as the Israel Infos and Tribute Juive.

Nice

Capital of the Alpes-Maritimes department on the French Riviera, France.

21ST CENTURY

Nice is home to the Musee National Message Biblique Marc Chagall, one of the most important collections of Marc Chagall’s work.

The major synagogues in Nice are the Grade Synagogue, the Association Culturelle Israelite de Nice, the Conservative Comunaute Juive Massorti Maayane Or, and the Reform Union Liberale Israelite de France. There are also a number of kosher restaurants in the city, and supermarkets that offer kosher food options.
 

HISTORY

The statutes of Nice, which was enacted in 1342 when the town belonged to Provence, compelled the Jews to wear an identifying badge; this is the first specific mention of the presence of Jews in Nice.

The community had its own bailiff by 1406, when Nice was part of Savoy. Two years later, in 1408, the community owned a cemetery, and there was a synagogue in the city at least from 1428.

An edict issued by the Duke of Savoy in 1430 (that also included the Jews of Turin), protected the Jews from forced baptism, but imposed upon them a series of prohibitions including on money lending and collecting interest. The edict also confined Jewish residence to a separate quarter, the Guidaria. However, in spite of these restrictions, in 1449 a Jew was permitted to settle outside of the Jewish Quarter, and charge rates of 20% interest.

In 1499, Jews who had been expelled from the island of Rhodes were permitted to settle in Nice.

Beginning in 1551, the Jews of Nice were placed under the jurisdiction of a conservator, with the exception of cases of crimes and offenses committed against Catholicism. Additionally, the local Jews were authorized to freely engage in money lending and practicing medicine. At this time the Jews of Nice also began to work in commerce.

A number of crypto-Jews, who were usually referred to as “Portuguese” came to Nice from Italy and Holland beginning in 1648, joining the "old Nissards." They were drawn to Nice by the free port edict, which expressly favored the Jews by granting them advantageous privileges. Starting in 1669 many Jews arrived from Oran (Algeria) and were even able to bring their slaves. These newcomers, who settled outside of the ghetto, were accorded full rights as part of the existing community, without having to contribute to the community’s expenses.

Until the beginning of the 17th century, the Jewish community of Nice was affiliated with the community of Turin; it eventually became independent. The community, known as the Universita, was led by massari-parnassim, deputies, councilors, and a treasurer. The city’s Jews spoke Judeo-Nicois, a mixture of the local dialect and Hebrew.

Nice’s Jewish community had a number of diverse groups, and community cohesion took place slowly, over time. This was helped by the fact that a number of legal differences governing the groups were eventually allowed to become obsolete by the authorities. This became particularly true in 1732 when all Jews, regardless of ethnicity or country of origin, were again forced to live in the Jewish Quarter, the Rue Giudaria.  

The temporary reunion of Nice with France from 1792 to 1814 resulted in emancipation for the Jews, but they subsequently lost these new rights with the return of the Sardinian administration. Thus, in 1828, the Jews were ordered to return to the ghetto, and it was only in 1848 that real, lasting emancipation was granted. The 1860 annexation of Nice by France did not result in further changes in the social and economic situation of the Jews.

In 1808 the Jewish population of Nice was approximately 300. In 1909 it was 500 (out of a total population of 95,000) and did not substantially change until World War II (1939-1945).

 

THE HOLOCAUST

During World War II Nice was occupied by Italy. Because it was not under German occupation, thousands of Jews from other areas came to Nice to take refuge in the city. As a result, for a time the city became an important center for various Jewish organizations, particularly after the landing of the Allies in North Africa (November 1942).

However, after the Italians signed an armistice with the Allies, German troops invaded the former Italian Zone on September 8, 1943. Brunner, the SS official in charge of Jewish affairs, led the units that were formed to search for Jews.

Within five months, 5,000 Jews were caught and deported, while large numbers were killed in Nice itself. However, the courage displayed by the resistance and Jewish youth movements, along with the sympathy of the vast majority of the population and clergy, helped save thousands who were either hidden or given help when they escaped.

 

POSTWAR

After the liberation several hundred Jews, original inhabitants of Nice and refugees who arrived during the war, reestablished the community. With the influx of Jews from North Africa in the 1960s, the Jewish population in Nice and the surrounding area increased from 2,000 to 20,000 in 1969.

Moscow

Москва Moskva

Capital of Russia since 1918. The political, economic, and commercial center of Russia.

Jews were forbidden to reside in Moscow until the end of the 18th century, although many Jewish merchants from Poland and Lithuania visited the town on business. A few Jews had arrived during the Russian-Polish war of the 17th century as prisoners. Among them were some who converted to Christianity and remained in the city. Peter Shafizov, one of the most important advisors to Czar Peter the Great was of Jewish origin.

The First Partition of Poland in 1772 brought a number of Jews to Moscow, particularly from Shklov, which was then an important commercial center in Belarus. In 1790, Moscow merchants requested that the presence and commercial activities of Jews in the city be prohibited; a royal decree forbidding Jewish merchants from settling in the inner districts of Russia was subsequently issued in 1791. However, they were still allowed to reside in Moscow temporarily in order to trade and Jewish merchants continued to play an important role in the trade between Moscow and the Southern and Western regions of Russia, as well as in the export of Moscow's goods. As a result, Russian industrialists in Moscow tended to support granting rights to the Jews of the city.

In 1828, certain classes of Jewish merchants were authorized to remain in Moscow on business for a period of one month only (in 1832 all classes of Jewish merchants were allowed to stay in the city for up to half a year), and could stay only in one inn, Glebovskoye Podvoriye. The inn was a charitable trust which had been handed over to the Moscow Town Council so that its income could be used for the maintenance of a municipal eye clinic. Because it was the only place that Jewish merchants could stay while they were in Moscow, they were forced to pay exorbitant prices to stay at the inn. With the ascension of Czar Alexander II in 1855, restrictions were eased; Jewish merchants of the first guild, university graduates, army veterans, and certain medical professionals were permitted to live anywhere in the city.

The first Jews to settle permanently in Moscow, who became the founders of the community, were cantonists (Jews who had been conscripted to the military as children) who had finished their military service, some of whom had married Jewish women from the Pale of Settlement. In 1858 there were 340 Jewish men and 104 Jewish women in the entire District of Moscow. From 1865 to 1889 Rabbi Chaim Berlin served as the chief rabbi of Moscow, and in 1869 the community invited Shlomo Minor, one of the outstanding students of the Vilna rabbinical seminary, to serve as the Kazyonny Ravvin (Government Appointed Rabbi).

In 1871, the Jewish population of Moscow was estimated at around 8,000. This number grew to about 12,000 in 1882 and 35,000 (over 3% of the total population) in 1890, just before the expulsion.

The governor of Moscow, Prince Paul Dmitriyevich Dolgorukov, was known for his liberal attitude towards the Jews and (after receiving bribes and gifts) the local administration was willing to overlook their occasionally illegal presence in the city (for example, in the cases of those who falsely claimed to be merchants and artisans). While anti-Jewish persecutions and decrees were gaining momentum throughout Russia after the ascension of Czar Alexander III, the attempts to expel the Jews from Moscow were delayed. This peace proved to be temporary when Prince Dolgorukov was removed from office, and Grand Prince Sergei Alexandrovich was appointed in his stead. One of his explicitly-stated goals in taking office was "to save Moscow from the Jews." Shortly thereafter, on March 28, 1891 (Passover Eve, 5651), Jews began to be expelled from the city.

The expulsion from Moscow came as a deep shock to Russian Jewry. Within a short period of time, approximately 20,000 Jews were expelled from Moscow. The poor were sent to the Pale of Settlement on criminal transports and generous rewards were offered for the capture of any Jews hiding in the city. A considerable number of those expelled arrived in Warsaw and Lodz, and began to rebuild their businesses. At the height of the expulsion period, the authorities closed down the new Choral Synagogue, which had just been built in 1891, as well as 9 of the 14 prayer houses. It was not until 1906 that permission was granted for the Choral Synagogue to be reopened.

In 1897 there were 8,095 Jews living in Moscow (0.8% of the total population. Additionally, there were 216 Karaites living in the city). In 1902 there were 9,339 Jews living in the city, with half of them declaring Yiddish as their mother tongue; the overwhelming majority of others declared it to be Russian. In 1893 Ya'akov (Iakov) Mazeh was elected as the rabbi of Moscow, and remained its spiritual leader until his death in 1923.

Increasing numbers of Jewish students arrived in Moscow during the end of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century in order to pursue higher education. In 1886 there were about 298 Jewish students in the city, and in 1911 there were about 700. Additionally, after the outbreak of World War I, streams of Jewish refugees began arriving from the German-occupied regions. They took part in the development of war industries, and some amassed large fortunes. In a short period of time, Moscow became a center of Jewish life and culture. Hebrew printing presses were set up and a large Lithuanian yeshivah was founded in the town of Bogorodsk, near Moscow. The Hebrew theater Habimah performed its first play in 1917 (its masterpiece, Sh. Ansky's "Ha-Dibuk," would premiere in January 1922). Authorization was given for the publication of a Hebrew weekly, "Ha-Am." The founding conference of the Organization for Hebrew Education and Culture, Tarbut, was held in Moscow in the spring of 1917. While these cultural activities continued through the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the new regime rapidly shut down most of the institutions of Hebrew culture in Moscow. The Habimah Theater was more fortunate; it continued to exist and was protected several prominent members of the Russian artistic and literary world, who defended it as a first-class artistic institution.

The headquarters of the Yevsektsiya, the Jewish section of the Soviet Communist Party, were located in Moscow, where they published their central newspaper, "Der Emes," from 1920 until 1938, as well as many other Yiddish newspapers and books. The Jewish state theater (known in Russia by its Russian initials, GOSET), directed by Solomon Mikhoels, was also located in Moscow. For a number of years, small circles of organized Zionists continued to exist in the city, which was the central location of the legal He-Chalutz as well as of Po'alei Zion. The Yiddish Theater moved from Petrograd to Moscow in 1920, and in 1925 it was reorganized as the Moscow State Yiddish Theater. In 1926 the Second Moscow University opened a department to prepare future teachers to teach at Jewish schools.

This cultural blossoming came to a halt during the 1930s. The last Jewish school was closed in 1936, while most Yiddish language educational and cultural institutions were closed in 1937 and 1938. The mass arrests from 1936=1938 also claimed a large number of Jews from Moscow, many of whom were party elites.

When Moscow became the capital of the Soviet Union in 1918, its Jewish population began rapidly increasing. In 1920 there were 28,000 Jews in the city, which had become severely depopulated as a result of the civil war. By 1923 that number had increased to 86,000, and by 1926 to 131,000 (6.5% of the total population). In 1940 the Jewish population was estimated at 400,000. In the census of 1959, 239,246 Jews (4.7% of the total population) were registered in the municipal area of Moscow; these numbers are thought to be a gross underestimate, and some opinions evaluate Moscow's Jewish population during that time as being as high as 500,000.


During World War II, from 1943, Moscow was the headquarters of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, which gathered together major well-known Soviet Jewish figures in order to assist the Soviet Union in its war effort against Nazi Germany and to mobilize world Jewish opinion and aid for this cause. It published a newspaper, "Eynikayt." The Anti-Fascist Committee attempted to continue its activities after the war, but was brutally suppressed in the years following the war. In 1950 the state security apparatus invented the Stalin Automobile Plant of Moscow (ZIS) Affair, accusing 48 people (42 of whom were Jews) of organizing a Jewish national sabotage group at the plant, led by the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. All ten people who were executed were Jews. Indeed, Moscow's Jews were particularly affected by Stalin's anti-Semitic campaigns after the war. Many of Moscow's Jews were fired from their jobs, arrested, and even executed after being falsely accused of various plots against Stalin and the state.

When Golda Meir, the first diplomatic representative of the State of Israel, arrived in Moscow on September 1948, a spontaneous mass demonstration of Jews in her honor took place on the High Holidays near and around the Moscow Choral Synagogue, angering Soviet officials. Later, the Israel delegation to the Youth Festival, held in Moscow in 1957, was the first opportunity that Jewish youth from Israel and the USSR had to form personal connections.

By 1970, there were three functioning synagogues in Moscow, the most historically significant of which was the Moscow Choral Synagogue (one of the three would be closed down by the authorities in 1972). In the 1950s and 1960s, The Moscow Choral Synagogue was allowed to issue a Jewish calendar and to send it to other synagogues in the USSR. In 1956 the synagogue's rabbi, Rabbi Solomon Schliefer ,was granted permission to print a prayer book from older prayer books. He named it "Siddur Ha-Shalom" ("The Prayer Book of Peace") and deleted all references to wars and victories (for example, the prayers said on Chanukkah and Purim). He is said to have printed 3,000 copies, but it was rarely seen in other synagogues in the Soviet Union. In 1957, Rabbi Schliefer was given permission by the authorities to open a yeshiva on the premesis of The Great Synagogue. He called it "Kol Ya'akov" ("The Voice of Jacob") and for several years a small number of young and middle-aged Jewish men, mostly from Georgia, were trained there. Nearly all the men learning there trained to be shochatim (ritual slaughterers), and the number of ordained rabbis did not exceed 1 or 2. By 1963 37 students had passed through the yeshiva; 25 of them had been trained as shochatim. In 1965 there was only 1 student studying there. Beginning in 1961, a barrier was erected in the Moscow Choral Synagogue to separate foreign visitors, including Israeli diplomats, from the local congregation and the synagogue's officers were responsible for strictly enforcing the segregation. In 1962, matzah-baking and distribution was restricted in Moscow, as well as in most other areas of the Soviet Union.


Yiddish folklore concerts took place relatively frequently in the city and drew large crowds. A semi-professional theater troupe was established, led by the actor Benjamin Schwartzer, and mainly performed Sholom Aleichem plays in provincial cities. In 1961 the Yiddish journal "Sovietish Heymland," edited by an officially appointed editor, the poet Aaron Vergelis, began to appear as an "organ of the Soviet Writers' Union."The Moscow Jewish Tramatic Ensemble was created in 1962 (which would be renamed the Shalom Jewish Dramatic Theater Studio).

The Six Day War and the subsequent rupture of diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and Israel put an end to cultural contacts between the two countries. But many of Moscow's Jews, particularly the younger generation, began demonstrating their feelings of Jewish nationalism more openly. Simchat Torah at the Moscow Choral Synagogue became a time for thousands of Jews to come together and sing Yiddish and Hebrew songs. These Jews began studying Hebrew in small, secret groups and publishing samizdat (underground publications). Jews organized groups to study Judaism and Jewish history, and held Jewish song contests. They also demonstrated and signed petitions against the refusal to grant them exit permits to Israel. A number of these activists ("refuseniks") were arrested for their activities, including Ida Nudel, Yosef Begun, and Natan (Anatoly) Sharansky.

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Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall (1887-1985), painter, born in Vitebsk, Russia, and scenes of his native town are reflected in many of his pictures. He studied in St. Petersburg and moved to Paris in 1910, soon finding his place in what was then the art capital of the world.The outbreak of World War I found him in Vitebsk where he painted a series of joyous pictures following his marriage. For a time he was drafted into military service. After the 1917 Revolution, Chagall was appointed commissar of fine arts in Vitebsk and director of the Vitebsk Arts Academy. Becoming disillusioned with the official attitude to art, he moved to Moscow and designed sets and costumes for the new State Jewish Theater. In 1925 he left for Berlin and then returned to Paris. A 1931 visit to Eretz Israel inspired a series of biblical etchings. In World War II Chagall escaped to New York and in 1947 returned to France, living first in Paris and eventually made his home at Vence near Nice. He turned to new media and experiment including work in stained glass in many outstanding public buildings and tapestries. Chagall is renowned as a particularly Jewish artist but the appeal of his colorful and often magical paintings is universal

Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
CHAGALL
CHAGALL, CHAGAL, SHAGAL

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a Hebrew acronym (a name created from the initial letters of a Hebrew phrase, and which refers to a relative, lineage or occupation).

Chaga(l)l and Shagal are variants of Segal. An abbreviation of the Hebrew 'Segan Leviyyah', which means "assistant of the priest", the family name Segal was originally a function and title. Changes in vocalization, and the trend of adjusting to the languages of the ethnic majorities among whom Jews lived in the Diaspora, produced variants such as Sagal and Sigal. Transliteration also led to forms which changed the meaning of the original name, for example Segel, the German for "sail", and Siegel, the German term for "seal". There are several apparently 'meaningless' or artificial names whose origins go back to Segal, among them Ziegelbaum, literally "brick tree" in German; Zygelberg, a Polish spelling of the German Ziegelberg, that is "brick mountain", and Segelbaum, whose literal meaning in German is "sail tree". A remarkable combination is represented by the compound name Seglersiegler, literally "sailor-sealer" in German, comprising two derivatives of Segal. Szegal is a spelling variant found in Hungary and Poland, and Chagall in France. Segalot is a French form derived from the German/Slavic Segalovitz, that is "Segal's son".

Distinguished bearers of the Jewish family name Chagall include the world-famous 20th century Russian-born French painter Marc Chagall (1887-1985), originally called Segal/Shagal.
Stained Glass Windows by Marc Chagall, Jerusalem, 1987
Stained glass windows designed by Marc Chagall for the synagogue at the Hadassah Medical Center,
Ein Karem, Jerusalem 1987.
Photograph: Yakov Bril
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot)
Alex Leon

Alex Leon (born Sándor Löwinger) (1907-1944), graphic artist and painter, born in Petrosani, Romania (then part of Austria-Hungary). His family moved to Oradea in 1916, where he was men's tailor apprentice, became a certified tailor in 1926. However, he was attracted by the artistic world and in 1928 he attended the art school in Baia Mare and then studied in Prague during 1930. As a lithographer he published two albums in Timisoara in 1934 and 1936. His first exhibition was held in Oradea in 1933, followed by others in Timisoara, Arad, Cluj, and Oradea. In 1936 he stayed in Paris, where he was a pupil of Marc Chagall. During late 1930s he lived in Brasov and then in Oradea.

After the annexation of Northern Transylvania in 1940, Jews of Oradea became victims of the anti-Semitic policies and persecutions of the Hungarian government. In 1942 Leon was recruited to forced labor battalions and sent to the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union. In January 1944, he managed to flee to the Soviet side, but having been ill with typhus and suffering from frostbitten feet, he died in March the same year.

Vitebsk

Vitebsk

Віцебск

Capital of Vitebsk oblast, Belarus.

The first Jewish settlement appears to have been established in Vitebsk at the end of the 16th century. The charter given to the residents of Vitebsk in 1597 by Sigismund III Vasa forbids Jews "in accordance with long-held practice" to dwell within the town. Still, it appears that some Jews did live there, under the protection of the local nobility, both before and after 1597. The Jewish community developed, though not without conflict with the Christian population of the town over Jewish rights and privileges. In 1627 the local ruler S. Sangushko granted permission for the construction of a synagogue in the town. A document from the 17th century takes note of "the Jew's gate". During the war between Poland and the government of Moscow in 1654, Jews fought in the defense of the town. When it fell to the Russians, their property was confiscated and they were taken captive, not being released until peace was achieved with Poland (1687). Upon the Jews' return they had to enter into
Litigation with their neighbors who had appropriated their property. In 1679 King John III Sobieski granted a charter to the Jews, restoring their former privileges and promising them freedom of religion and commercial rights. This charter was renewed and confirmed by the kings of Poland in 1729 and 1759. In 1708, during the war with Sweden, the Jewish quarter of Vitebsk was destroyed by fire. The local residents then occupied the plot where the synagogue had been and built a church upon it. The Lithuanian supreme court ordered them to return the land to the Jews and pay damages of 13, 500 gold pieces. The Jewish community of Vitebsk was part of the "Council of the Lands". It was under the jurisdiction of the Brest-Litovsk community and through it was subject to the Lithuanian council. The Vitebsk Jewish community kept a Pinkas (minute book) from 1706.

With the first partition of Poland in 1772 Vitebsk was annexed to Russia. At that time the community numbered 1, 227 persons, or about a quarter of the town's population. Most of Vitebsk's trade in flax and tobacco was conducted with Riga by way of the Dvina river. With the completion of the Orel-Vitebsk-Dvinsk railroad during the 1860's the commerce of Vitebsk with regional towns and villages increased and the Jewish community grew accordingly. After their expulsion from Moscow in 1891 some of the Jews transferred their businesses to Vitebsk. In 1897 the town had 34, 420 Jews (52. 4% of the total population). Vitebsk was a stronghold of Orthodox Judaism, containing elements of Lithuanian Jewish scholarship, and even stronger Chasidic influences. At the end of the 18th century the founders of Lithuanian Chasidism, Menahem Mendel of Vitebsk and Shneur Zalman of Lyady, were active in the town. Strong Chabad Chasidic influences were present. The rabbi of the town from 1803 to 1860 was Yitzchak Isaac Behard, who was both Kazyonny Ravvin (government- appointed rabbi) and the choice of the Admor.

Jekuthiel Zalman Landau succeeded him in the rabbinate serving also as head of the Yeshivah of Vitebsk. After Landau moved to St. Petersburg the community did not select a new chief rabbi, as a result of a dispute between the Chasidim and Mitnaggedim. During the last years of the 19th century 72% of the school age children studied in the Cheder and Talmud Torah schools of Vitebsk.

The settlement of Jews in Vitebsk who had been expelled from Moscow strengthened the Haskalah elements in the town.

The Chibbat Zion movement began to develop, as did the socialist movement at a later date. Vitebsk was one of the first centers of the Bund. In 1901 the Zionist leader Grigori (Tzevi Hirsch) Bruck was selected as Kazyonny Ravvin of Vitebsk. He had great influence upon the life of the community, even after he was deposed by the authorities. This occurred as a result of his position as a delegate to the Duma, in which he signed the Wyborg proclamation. The Zionist and Po'alei Zion movements flourished, causing the Talmud Torah to be converted into a Hebrew school. After 1905 several private gymnasia opened in the town, most of the students being Jewish. The artist Y. Pen opened an art school which trained hundreds of young people, including Marc Chagall and S. Yudovin. S. An-ski and C. Zhitlovsky were both from Vitebsk. During world war in Vitebsk served as a way station for tens of thousands of Jews who had been expelled from Lithuania. Several thousand of them settled there
permanently.

With the advent of Soviet rule the Vitebsk Jewish community began to decline. Thousands of residents who had come from Lithuania and Latvia used their rights of relocation and emigrated from the Soviet Union. The Yevsektsiya established one of its centers in Belarus in Vitebsk, publishing the paper Der Royter Shtern ("the red star") until 1923. In 1921 a public trial "over the Cheder" was conducted in Vitebsk and several synagogues in the town were confiscated. The Vitebsk He-Chaluttz movement was harassed and came to an end during the middle of the 1920's.

Vitebsk had a semi-legal Chabad Yeshivah until 1930. In 1923 there were 39,714 Jews (43.7% of the total population). In 1926 there were 37,013 (37.5%). With the Nazi conquest of the town in July 1941 part of the Jewish population fled into the interior of Russia. The town was destroyed in a fire started by the retreating Red Army. The 16, 000 Jews who remained behind were imprisoned in a ghetto. On October 8, 1941 their systematic liquidation began. After the liberation of the town from the Germans Jews began to return. In the later 1960's the Jewish population was estimated at about 20, 000 but there was no synagogue.

New York City

New York City

The largest urban Jewish community in history; metropolitan area population 11,448,480 (1970), metropolitan area Jewish population 2,381,000 (1968), of which 1,836,000 live in the city itself.

The New York Jewish settlement began in 1654 with the arrival of 23 Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews from Recife, Brazil (a Dutch possession) who were defending the city from Portuguese attack. The director general of New Netherland, Peter Stuyvesant, did not welcome the Jews. They protested to their coreligionists in the Dutch West India company and privileges were granted them. However, they were not allowed to build a synagogue.

The surrender of New Amsterdam to the British in 1664 brought a number of changes to the Jewish settlement.

Generally, civil and religious rights were widened, Jews were permitted to hold and be elected to public office, and restrictions on the building of a synagogue were lifted.

"Shearit Israel", the first congregation in New York, was probably organized in 1706. Between 1729 and 1730, the congregation erected the first synagogue. During this period, the Jewish merchant took a major interest in the business of overseas trade. Jews were the first to introduce cocoa and chocolate to England and were heavily engaged in the coral, textile, and slave trades, and at times had virtual monopolies in the ginger trade.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, Jews represented between 1% and 2% of the total New York City population and in 1701, it is estimated that Jews comprised 12% of all businessmen who engaged in foreign trade.

The advent of the American revolution found the Jewish community divided. Some were supporters of the American cause, while others supported the British. The end of the revolution brought many distinct changes. Civil liberties, which were often a matter of governmental whim under the English, became part of the New York State constitution. Opportunities were expanded and new fields opened. One of the distinctive changes in post-war New York was Jewish involvement in the political life of the community, perhaps best seen in the career of Mordecai Manuel Noah, who was High Sheriff of New York in 1821.

The period after the revolutionary war also saw the proliferation of congregational organizations and divisions within the Jewish community as well as mutual aid societies and Landsmannshaften. There were also numerous fraternal orders founded, the most important being the independent order B'nai B'rith, founded in 1843. In 1852, "Jews' hospital" was founded, which later became known as Mount Sinai.

Beginning in the 1870's and continuing for half a century, great migration from Eastern Europe radically altered the demography, social structure, cultural life, and communal order of New York Jewry. During this period, more than 1,000,000 Jews settled in the city. They were overwhelmingly Yiddish speaking and impoverished. On their arrival, East European Jews found a Jewish settlement dominated by a group strikingly different in its cultural background, social standing, and communal outlook. By the 1870's, this older settlement had become middle class in outlook, mercantile in its economic base, and reform in group identity. In 1870, the less affluent and those whose occupations required it lived in the Southern Ward of the Lower East Side, while the German Jews moved half way up the East Side of Manhattan. The relocation of synagogues and the establishment of other Jewish institutions underscored this process of removal and social differentiation, thus dividing the Jewish populace into "uptown" and "downtown" Jews.

In the decade after the civil war, fathers and sons entered the dry-goods business and transformed their establishments Bloomingdale's, Altman's, Macy's, Stern's, Gimbel's, and Abraham and Strauss. A significant number of German Jews entered the field of investment banking. They also played a central role as entrepreneurs in the city's growing ready-made clothing industry. In 1888, of 241 such clothing manufacturers, 234 were Jewish. The immigrant Jews entered the apparel trade in great numbers because it was close at hand, required little training, and allowed the congeniality of working with one's own kind.

During the 1901-1909 period, the groundwork was laid for the emergence of an aggressive, responsible, and progressive Jewish labor movement. The socialist newspaper, "Forward", was developing into the most widely read Yiddish daily and became a major educational medium for the Jewish working class. The "uprising of the 20,000" - a strike of the waistmakers, mostly young women - in the fall of 1909, was followed by the "great revolt" of the cloakmakers a half year later. These strikes increased the numbers and stability of the international ladies garment workers' union (I.L.G.W.U.).

During the last third of the 19th century, the established community built - in addition to imposing temples - a number of large and progressive philanthropic institutions.

Two developments of major significance for the future course of orthodoxy in New York took place between 1910 and movement and in the year 1915 Yeshivat Etz Chaim and the Rabbi Elchanan theological seminary united.

The sharp rise in immigration after 1903 underscored the need for more rational use of the resources and communal wealth which the community possessed. Some downtown leaders recognized the ineffectualness of their own institutions.

In both sectors of the community, the alienation of the younger generation from Judaism and Jewish life was viewed with alarm. These concerns led to the development of the short-lived New York Kehillah, an attempt to create a united community structure. The immediate catalyst was the accusation of the New York police commissioner in 1908 that 50% of the criminals in the city were Jews. Led by Judah Magnus, a coalition of representative leaders established the Kehillah as a federation of Jewish organizations in 1909. Magnus served as chairman until its demise in 1922. The establishment in 1917 of the federation for the support of Jewish philanthropies proved more lasting than the Kehillah.

The Yiddish speaking masses who settled in New York created a rich and varied cultural life. Between 1872 and 1917, 150 journals in Yiddish appeared. The Yiddish theater reinforced the press.

During the 1920's, the New York Jewish unions entered areas of activity never previously known to U.S. trade unions. They conducted large scale adult education, health clinics, a bank, summer resorts, built modern urban housing, and generously subsidized struggling trade unions.

Jews constituted 51% of enrollment in the city's academic high schools in 1931, and 49.6% of the city's college and university students in 1935. Also by the 1930's, over half the city's doctors, lawyers, dentists, and public school teachers were Jews.

As the largest single ethnic group, Jews were a highly important factor in the political life of the city. In no other city could Jews as a group weigh so heavily in politics or were real or alleged Jewish political interest reckoned with so carefully.

In 1967, there were 539 orthodox, 184 conservative, 93 reform, and five unclassified synagogues known in Greater New York; all but 163 of the total were within the city's boundaries. Actual synagogue affiliation tended to be low, however. The city's conservative congregations leaned close to orthodoxy in which most of their members and leaders, at least before 1950, had been raised. The Jewish Theological Seminary is the focal institution of the conservatives and exercised broad spiritual influence in the Jewish and general community. Jewish education in New York followed nationwide trends in the slow disappearance of the Cheder, the rise and decline of the communal Talmud Torahs, and Yiddish schools in the period from 1915 to 1950.

The city of New York is home to the largest Jewish population in the entire United States. Behind the central districts of Israel, New York City has the highest number of Jews in any metropolitan area in the world. By 2013 there was approximately 1.5 – 1.7 million Jews living throughout New York City, accounting for nearly 18% of the city’s total population (8.3 million).

Serving the Jewish people of New York City are several organizations. Many of these focus on Jewish religious practice, healthcare, education and family services. Throughout the city’s five boroughs are many foundations which support local communities and advocate for Jewish and Israeli causes. Some of the major organizations include UJA Federation of New York, The Jewish Communal Fund, The World Jewish Congress, The American Jewish Congress, AJC (Global Jewish Advocacy), The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and COJECO, the Council of Jewish Émigré Community Organizations. There are additionally many local organizations that specialize in the needs of their respective communities, such as the Bensonhurst Council of Jewish Organizations, which is the oldest in New York City, the Bronx Jewish Community Council, the Crown Heights Community Council, the Council of Jewish Organizations of Flatbush, and the Boro Park Community council.

Found across New York City are hundreds of synagogues, representing nearly every movement within Judaism. While the majority of these are in permanent buildings, some are held in temporary places. Many of these are not found in directories. There is an estimated 50 Orthodox synagogues, 8 Conservative, 17 Reform, 2 Reconstructionist and 5-7 which are unaffiliated with any particular movement. Among the wide range of Jewish educational services, are more than 350 private Jewish day schools which serve over 140,000 students. These include 191 high schools, 247 elementary schools and 159 preschools. Outside of school are many programs for Jewish youth, such as the Bnei Akiva Religious Zionist Youth Movement, Friends of Israel Scouts (Tzofim) and Young Judea.

New York City is well known for its numerous cultural institutions and museums. Many are internationally known and visited by thousands every year. Among those of which are culturally focused, are several Jewish museums and Holocaust memorials, such as the Anne Frank Center (USA), Bernard Museum of Judaica, and The Center for Jewish History. Other museums include the Derfner Judaica Museum, Museum of Jewish Heritage, Jewish Museum (New York), Living Torah Museum, Yeshiva University Museum and the Jewish Children’s Museum. New York City also has many Jewish cultural centers including the JCC Manhattan, YIVO (Institute for Jewish Research), the Leo Baeck Institute, the American Jewish Historical Society and the American Sephardi Federation.

Significant Jewish immigration began in the late 1800s with major waves taking place between 1881 and 1945. Additional waves of Jewish immigration began following the establishment of the State of Israel. During the 1950s and 1960s as many as 300,000 Israelis immigrated to the United States. Israeli Immigration continued throughout the 1970s and has ever since. By 2000, approximately 30,000 Israeli Jews were living in New York City. The Israeli community is well known for its entrepreneurship, having opened many startups and branches of existing Israeli businesses. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, new waves of Jewish immigrants began arriving to New York City. In the 1980s and 1990s, the city’s Jewish population was greatly augmented by the Jews of Eastern and Central Europe and the Caucasus region. These included the Georgian and Bukharian communities as well as Ashkenazi Jews from the Baltic Republics, Moldova and the Ukraine. In 2012, the more than 350,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union in New York City were Jewish.

Over generations, Jews have developed various communities throughout New York City creating several Jewish enclaves. Boro Park in Brooklyn for example is home to the largest Orthodox community in the world. Other notable Jewish neighborhoods include Crown Heights, Flatbush, Williamsburg and Midwood Brooklyn, Forest Hills and Fresh Meadows Queens, the Upper East and Upper West Side as well as Lower East Side in Manhattan, and the predominantly Hasidic neighborhoods of Willowbrook, New Springville, Eltingville and New Brighton.

Serving these neighborhoods as well as the rest of New York are several hospitals and health care facilities which were established by the Jewish community. In addition to Mount Sinai, one of New York’s oldest and largest hospitals, are several medical centers including Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, the Montefiore Medical Center, Beth Israel Medical Center, Maimonides Medical Center, the Sephardic Bikur Holim, Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Jewish Home Life Care, and the Hebrew Home for the aged. Found throughout these Jewish neighborhoods are many historic landmarks. In some cases, the neighborhoods themselves are the landmarks. The Lower East Side is a perfect example. Others include historic synagogues such as the Kehila Kedosha Janina, the only Romaniote (Greek) synagogue in the entire western hemisphere, or the Eldridge Street Synagogue, the first Eastern European Orthodox synagogue. Another group of landmarks include famous restaurants like Katz’s Delicatessen and Streit’s Matzo Company.

Since early Jewish immigration, New York City’s Jewish leaders developed foundations to keep medical centers like communal organizations alive. A number of Jewish Federations are overseen by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Other funding and support come from organizations like the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life, the Jewish Communal Fund, Hadassah, Yeshiva University and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Being a community that numbers nearly 2 million, the Jews of New York City enjoy several Jewish media outlets, including radio and print news. Notable periodicals include the Jewish Week and the Jewish Post of New York. Others include the Manhattan Jewish Sentinel, the Long Island Jewish World and Five Towns Jewish Times. There is even a Yiddish language newspaper known as The Jewish Daily Forward.   

St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg

Санкт-Петербург; also known as Petrograd 1914-1924, and Leningrad 1924-1991

Capital of Russia until 1918. An industrial city and major port on the Baltic Sea.

CONTEMPORARY HISTORY

The Jewish community of St. Petersburg is the second-largest in Russia. Mass emigration reduced the Jewish population from 107,000 in 1989 to about 40,000 in 2002. A 2010 census revealed that these numbers did not change considerably and that the number of Jewish residents in St. Petersburg has remained at around 40,000 people. Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union the Jews of St. Petersburg were in many ways disconnected from Jewish culture. However, since the end of communism in Russia, St. Petersburg has emerged as a vibrant Jewish community. While a significant segment of the community remains uncomfortable with, and not entirely open about, its Jewishness, an increasing number of the city's Jews identify as Jewish and have begun observing Jewish traditions and rituals.

Jews began arriving in St. Petersburg during the second half of the 19th century, primarily from the "Pale of Residence", which was made up of modern-day Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Moldova, and Lithuania. This time was marked by intense Russification, which included a high rate of mixed marriages and conversions to Christianity. Most of the Jews of St. Petersburg have lived in the city for generations, though there are many who have arrived more recently from other locations within Russia and the region, including the Ukraine, the Caucasus, and Georgia. Since the restriction on emigration was lifted in 1989, as many as 230,000 Jews left for Israel.

Two umbrella organizations serve both the community of St. Petersburg and Russian Jewry more generally: the Federation of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Russia, and The Russian-Jewish Congress. With the support of foreign Jewish philanthropy, several Jewish welfare programs, as well as a full range of religious and educational institutions, have been developed in St. Petersburg. Russia's network of Jewish educational institutions includes four Jewish universities, which are mainly located in St. Petersburg and Moscow. A number of smaller religious and social organizations have been established by young Jews in their twenties and thirties. Events such as the Jewish festival take place annually in the community. St. Petersburg has also been host to annual events and conferences organized by Limmud FSU, an organization which specializes in meeting the cultural needs of the Jewish communities of the former Soviet Union (FSU). Since 2011 these conferences have attracted hundreds of Jews from St. Petersburg, providing a safe environment for Jewish youth to learn more about their Jewish heritage. Jewish newspapers and Russian-language media have emerged in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and other cities with smaller organized Jewish communities.

The vast majority of Russian Jewry, including the community of St. Petersburg, is secular and defines their Jewishness in cultural rather than religious terms. Of the religiously observant Jews in St. Petersburg, most are Orthodox. In an effort to support the resurgence in religious observance, many rabbis from outside Russia have been brought to St. Petersburg. The Chabad-Lubavitch movement has been very active in the community since the end of the 20th century, and the Reform and Conservative streams of Judaism have also been introduced.

The central hub of Jewish life in St. Petersburg is the Yesod Jewish Community Center (JCC). Opened in 2005, the facility houses six of the community's major Jewish organizations, including the Hesed Avraam Charity Center, Adain Lo Family Center, Hillel Student Center, the Granatik Children Center, ORT, and the Library & Eitan Jewish Education Center. Additionally, the JCC offers many cultural and educational programs. It holds lectures, sponsors events, and includes its own Sunday school.

The most notable synagogue in St. Petersburg is the Grand Choral Synagogue. Constructed in the Moorish Revival-Byzantine style between 1880 and 1888, and consecrated in 1893, the Grand Choral is the second-largest synagogue in Europe. Prior to its construction, a synagogue large enough to serve the entire Jewish community in Russia's then-capital did not exist. However, the synagogue could only be built after obtaining a building permit from Tsar Alexander II in 1869.

Located in the Russian Museum of Ethnography is an exhibit dedicated to Russian Jewry. The exhibit "History and Culture of the Jewish people of the Territory of Russia" is considered by many in the community to be the first step toward the development of a completely separate Jewish museum. As one of the city's important cultural institutions, the museum attracts visitors from all over Russia, including Jews from neighboring countries.

Another significant Jewish landmark is the Holocaust memorial, located in Tsarskoye Selo. The monument stands just 500 meters from Catherin's palace where the Jewish ghetto was located during the Second World War.

One of the oldest points of Jewish interest in the city is St. Petersburg's Jewish cemetery. Founded in 1875, the cemetery serves as the burial place for several historical figures such as the sculptor Mark Antokolsky, the 19th century scientist and Jewish community leader David Ginsburg, and Abraham Lubanov, who served as the head rabbi of the St. Petersburg Synagogue during World War II.

HISTORY

There is evidence that there were some Marranos who settled in St. Petersburg soon after it was in 1703 by Peter the Great. "The Portuguese Jew," Jan DaCosta (who was actually a converso), was one of the jesters at the royal court during the first half of the 18th century. The city's first police chief was also a converso from the Netherlands. Otherwise, Jews were not allowed to live in the city. Additionally, Czarina Elizabeth issued intolerant decrees against the Jews, and the few Jews who were living in St. Petersburg were forced to leave. Catherine II (Catherine the Great), on the other hand, was interested in attracting Jewish contractors, industrialists, and physicians to the city, and therefore issued instructions to the authorities to overlook the presence of the "useful" Jews living there with their families and assistants and had the protection of court officials. It was Catherine II who, after the partitions of Poland in the late 18th century, created the Pale of Settlement, territories in which the Jews of the Russian Empire were permitted to settle permanently (unless they had special permission to settle elsewhere).

With the partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, St. Petersburg became a center for the millions of Jews who were incorporated into the Russian Empire. The city quickly became a destination for upper class Jews, both the "useful" Jews—the army veterans, artisans, and wealthy merchants who had official permission to live outside of the Pale—as well as the Jews who settled in St. Petersburg illegally. The leader of Chabad Chasidism, Shneur Zalman of Lyady, was imprisoned in St. Petersburg from 1798 until 1800/1801.

The situation of the Jews worsened with the accession of Czar Nicholas I. In 1827 he issued the Statute on Conscription Duty, which imposed a draft on the Jews of Russia and cancelled the earlier provision that allowed Jews to pay a monetary random instead of submitting to the draft. The draftees would have to serve 25 years, and would fall on Jewish boys and men between the ages of 12 and 25 (as opposed to the general population, in which men 18 to 35 were eligible for the draft). The idea was to modernize and Russify the Jewish population, and became a communal crisis, particularly for the more traditional Jewish communities.

The situation shifted again with the reign of Alexander II. "Useful" Jews, such as army veterans, university graduates, artisans, and upper-class merchants were once again allowed to legally settle in St. Petersburg. By the end of Alexander II's reign in 1881 there were 17,253 Jews in St. Petersburg, making up approximately 2% of the population. Upper class Jews, including the barons of the Guenzburg family became the de facto leaders and representatives before the Central Government.

Several figures held the position of Kazyonnyy Ravin (Government-Appointed Rabbi) in St. Petersburg, including the German-born Abraham Neiman, Avram Drabkin, and Moshe Eisenstadt. Other rabbis who were not officially appointed, yet who led the Jews of the community, were Yitshak Blaser, Yekutiel Zalman Landau, and David Tevel Katzenellenbogen. After 24 years of dealing with bureaucracy and construction, the magnificent Grand Choral Synagogue was completed and consecrated in 1893. It was built in the Moorish style, and contained 1,200 seats. In spite of this triumph, it is important to note that with the opening of the Grand Choral Synagogue, all of the other existing sanctuaries needed to be closed, and their congregants were compelled to pray only in the Grand Choral Synagogue.

The Yiddish, Russian, and Hebrew Jewish presses were centered in St. Petersburg from the 1870s until the revolution in 1905. The newspapers HaMelitz (1871-1873, 1878-1904), HaYom (1886-1888). Dos Yudishes Folksblat (1881-1890) and the first Russian daily newspaper in Yiddish, Der Fraynd (1903-1908), were all published out of St. Petersburg. The city was also the center of Russian-Jewish journalism and literature. One of the most outstanding publications was the Russian-Jewish encyclopedia, Yevreyskaya Entsiklopediya, which was published in 1908.

In spite of censorship, exclusions, and unremitting police persecutions, the community continued to grow, numbering 35,000 (1.8% of the city's population) in 1914.

Many national Jewish organizations located their headquarters in St. Petersburg. The oldest of these organizations was The Society for the Promotion of Culture Among the Jews of Russia, which was founded in 1863. Others included ORT, the Jewish Colonization Association (ICA), the Chovevei Sefat Ever (renamed "Tarbut" after the 1917 Revolution), the Historical-Ethnographic Society, and the Society for Jewish Folk Music. Additionally, a number of institutions in the city housed various objects of Jewish interest. The city's Asian Museum housed a valuable Hebrew department. The Imperial Public Library contained one of the world's oldest and most important collections of Hebrew manuscripts. Under the initiative of Baron David Guenzburg, courses in Oriental Studies were opened in St. Petersburg in 1907. The concentration of public and cultural institutions in the city attracted Jewish authors and intellectuals, including A.A Harkavy, Judah Leib Katzenelson, Simon Dubnow, and father and son Michael and Eugene M. Kulisher.

World War I saw the Jewish population of Petrograd swell to more than 50,000 because of Jews fleeing from the battlefields within the Pale of Settlement, or Jews being expelled by the Russian army who accused them of collaborating with the Germans and Austrians. The influx of Jewish refugees was overwhelming to the city's Jewish residents, though they nonetheless attempted to accommodate them through organizations such as the Jewish Society for the Relief of War Victims.

After the February Revolution of 1917, all residence restrictions affecting the Jews of Petrograd were abolished. As a result, the city became a center for the activities of the diverse parties and factions within Russian Jewry. In June 1917, the Seventh Conference of the Zionist Organization of Russia was held in the city, and plans were also made to convene an All-Russian Jewish Congress in Petrograd. These improvements in Jewish life and national status were, however, short-lived. With the Bolshevik Revolution in October 1917, all Jewish political parties (along with any other non-Bolshevik parties) were forced underground. The center of government moved from Petrograd to Moscow, leaving the city's Jews far from the nation's political center. The transfer of the capital from Petrograd to Moscow in 1918, as well as the shortages and famine that affected the city during the Russian Civil War, severely shook the Jewish community, and many Jews returned to the provincial towns. It was during this difficult period that Joseph Trumpeldor created a Jewish battalion for the purposes of Jewish self-defense. Additionally, he founded the youth organization He-Halutz, to prepare Jewish youth for emigration to Palestine.

By 1920 there were 25,453 Jews (3.5% of the total population) living in Petrograd. With the consolidation of the Soviet regime, the number of Jews rapidly increased, to 52,373 in 1923 (4.9% of the total population), and 84,505 in 1926 (5.2% of the population).

A small group of Russian-Jewish intellectuals attempted to continue their literary and scientific work under the new regime. They worked to sustain their former cultural societies, and continued to publish scientific and literary periodicals. By the end of the 1920s, when these projects were shut down by the Soviet regime, many of these intellectuals left Russia, including Simon Dubnow and Saul M. Ginzburg. Nearly a decade later, by the end of the 1930s, the remaining Communist Jewish organizations had also been suppressed, as had public expressions of Jewish identity.

On the eve of the Nazi invasion, the number of Jews in Leningrad was estimated at about 200,000 people. During World War II, the Jews shared in the suffering and starvation during the German siege of the city. The author, literary critic, and historian Lidiya Yakovlevna Ginzburg was among the survivors of the siege of Leningrad.

In the census of 1959, 162,344 Jews were registered as living in Leningrad, but the real number was probably closer to 200,000. 13,728 of these respondents declared Yiddish as their mother tongue. The city's only synagogue was the Grand Choral Synagogue, which was still standing in spite of having been bombed by the Nazis in 1941 and 1943. During the 1950s Gedalia Pecherski was the chairman of the synagogue's board. Pecherski was not only devoted to the religious needs of the congregation, he also sent petitions to the Soviet government and the municipal authorities asking to be allowed to organize courses in subjects such as Hebrew and Jewish history. These petitions were always summarily rejected. Pecherski was arrested in 1961 and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment, ostensibly for having "maintained contact with a foreign embassy [i.e Israel]." The rabbi of the synagogue, RabbiAbram Lubanov, who had been imprisoned in a forced labor camp during the Stalin era, was the dwindling congregation's spiritual leader.

In 1962-1964, as in other parts of the USSR, matzah-baking in the Leningrad synagogue was discontinued by the authorities. In 1962, on the eve of Simchat Torah, 25 Jewish youths were arrested while dancing in the street near the synagogue. In 1963 the authorities prohibited the use of the Jewish cemetery, which was ultimately closed in 1969.

In spite of the assimilation and population decline among Leningrad's Jews, they nonetheless took on an important role in the refusenik movement and the Jewish national revival that began to stir in the Soviet Union. After the Six Day War in 1967, Jewish youth more openly displayed their identification with Israel, in spite of the official Soviet anti-Israel campaign. Many began studying Hebrew in private underground groups, others protested publicly against the government's refusal to grant them exit permits for Israel. These protests were publicized abroad, and helped galvanize Jewish communities worldwide to help their Soviet brethren. Many of these activities led to the arrest and imprisonment of these young activists. Another group of young Jews, mostly from Riga, together with 2 non-Jews, were tried in Leningrad in December 1970 for allegedly planning to hijack a Soviet plane in order to land abroad and ultimately reach Israel. Two were sentenced to death, and the other to prison terms of 4-15 years. These sentences led to worldwide protests. On appeal in March, 1971, the Supreme Court of the Russian Republic commuted the death sentences to 15 years of hard labor, and some of the other sentences were reduced.

With the collapse of communism, St. Petersburg saw a Jewish communal revival. Chabad is particularly active in the city, and events such as Limmud FSU help St. Petersburg's Jews reconnect with their Jewish roots.

Paris

Paris

Capital of France

In 582, the date of the first documentary evidence of the presence of Jews in Paris, there was already a community with a synagogue. In 614 or 615, the sixth council of Paris decided that Jews who held public office, and their families, must convert to Christianity. From the 12th century on there was a Jewish quarter. According to one of the sources of Joseph ha- Kohen's Emek ha-Bakha, Paris Jews owned about half the land in Paris and the vicinity. They employed many Christian servants and the objects they took in pledge included even church vessels.

Far more portentous was the blood libel which arose against the Jews of Blois in 1171. In 1182, Jews were expelled. The crown confiscated the houses of the Jews as well as the synagogue and the king gave 24 of them to the drapers of Paris and 18 to the furriers. When the Jews were permitted to return to the kingdom of France in 1198 they settled in Paris, in and around the present rue Ferdinand Duval, which became the Jewish quarter once again in the modern era.

The famous disputation on the Talmud was held in Paris in 1240. The Jewish delegation was led by Jehiel b. Joseph of Paris. After the condemnation of the Talmud, 24 cart-loads of Jewish books were burned in public in the Place de Greve, now the Place de l'Hotel de Ville. A Jewish moneylender called Jonathan was accused of desecrating the host in 1290. It is said that this was the main cause of the expulsion of 1306.

Tax rolls of the Jews of Paris of 1292 and 1296 give a good picture of their economic and social status. One striking fact is that a great many of them originated from the provinces. In spite of the prohibition on the settlement of Jews expelled from England, a number of recent arrivals from that country are listed. As in many other places, the profession of physician figures most prominently among the professions noted. The majority of the rest of the Jews engaged in moneylending and commerce. During the same period the composition of the Jewish community, which numbered at least 100 heads of families, changed to a large extent through migration and the number also declined to a marked degree. One of the most illustrious Jewish scholars of medieval France, Judah b. Isaac, known as Sir Leon of Paris, headed the yeshiva of Paris in the early years of the 13th century. He was succeeded by Jehiel b. Joseph, the Jewish leader at the 1240 disputation. After the wholesale destruction of
Jewish books on this occasion until the expulsion of 1306, the yeshivah of Paris produced no more scholars of note.

In 1315, a small number of Jews returned and were expelled again in 1322. The new community was formed in Paris in 1359. Although the Jews were under the protection of the provost of Paris, this was to no avail against the murderous attacks and looting in 1380 and 1382 perpetrated by a populace in revolt against the tax burden. King Charles VI relieved the Jews of responsibility for the valuable pledges which had been stolen from them on this occasion and granted them other financial concessions, but the community was unable to recover. In 1394, the community was struck by the Denis de Machaut affair. Machaut, a Jewish convert to Christianity, had disappeared and the Jews were accused of having murdered him or, at the very least, of having imprisoned him until he agreed to return to Judaism. Seven Jewish notables were condemned to death, but their sentence was commuted to a heavy fine allied to imprisonment until Machaut reappeared. This affair was a prelude to the "definitive" expulsion of the Jews from France in 1394.

From the beginning of the 18th century the Jews of Metz applied to the authorities for permission to enter Paris on their business pursuits; gradually the periods of their stay in the capital increased and were prolonged. At the same time, the city saw the arrival of Jews from Bordeaux (the "Portuguese") and from Avignon. From 1721 to 1772 a police inspector was given special charge over the Jews.
After the discontinuation of the office, the trustee of the Jews from 1777 was Jacob Rodrigues Pereire, a Jew from Bordeaux, who had charge over a group of Spanish and Portuguese Jews, while the German Jews (from Metz, Alsace, and Loraine) were led by Moses Eliezer Liefman Calmer, and those from Avignon by Israel Salom. The German Jews lived in the poor quarters of Saint-Martin and Saint-Denis, and those from Bordeaux, Bayonne, and Avignon inhabited the more luxurious quarters of Saint Germaine and Saint André.

Large numbers of the Jews eked out a miserable living in peddling. The more well-to-do were moneylenders, military purveyors and traders in jewels. There were also some craftsmen among them. Inns preparing kosher food existed from 1721; these also served as prayer rooms. The first publicly acknowledged synagogue was opened in rue de Brisemiche in 1788. The number of Jews of Paris just before the revolution was probably no greater than 500. On Aug. 26, 1789 they presented the constituent assembly with a petition asking for the rights of citizens. Full citizenship rights were granted to the Spanish, Portuguese, and Avignon Jews on Jan. 28, 1790.

After the freedom of movement brought about by emancipation, a large influx of Jews arrived in Paris, numbering 2,908 in 1809. When the Jewish population of Paris had reached between 6,000 and 7,000 persons, the Consistory began to build the first great synagogue. The Consistory established its first primary school in 1819.

The 30,000 or so Jews who lived in Paris in 1869 constituted about 40% of the Jewish population of France. The great majority originated from Metz, Alsace, Lorraine, and Germany, and there were already a few hundreds from Poland. Apart from a very few wealthy capitalists, the great majority of the Jews belonged to the middle economic level. The liberal professions also attracted numerous Jews; the community included an increasing number of professors, lawyers, and physicians. After 1881 the Jewish population increased with the influx of refugees from Poland, Russia, and the Slav provinces of Austria and Romania. At the same time, there was a marked increase in the anti-Semitic movement. The Dreyfus affair, from 1894, split the intellectuals of Paris into "Dreyfusards" and "anti-Dreyfusards" who frequently clashed on the streets, especially in the Latin Quarter. With the law separating church and state in 1905, the Jewish consistories lost their official status, becoming no more than private religious associations. The growing numbers of Jewish immigrants to Paris resented the heavy hand of a Consistory, which was largely under the control of Jews from Alsace and Lorraine, now a minority group. These immigrants formed the greater part of the 13,000 "foreign" Jews who enlisted in World War 1. Especially after 1918, Jews began to arrive from north Africa, Turkey, and the Balkans, and in greatly increased numbers from eastern Europe. Thus in 1939 there were around 150,000 Jews in Paris (over half the total in France). The Jews lived all over the city but there were large concentrations of them in the north and east. More than 150 landmanschaften composed of immigrants from eastern Europe and many charitable societies united large numbers of Jews, while at this period the Paris Consistory (which retained the name with its changed function) had no more than 6,000 members.

Only one of the 19th-century Jewish primary schools was still in existence in 1939, but a few years earlier the system of Jewish education which was strictly private in nature acquired a secondary school and a properly supervised religious education, for which the Consistory was responsible. Many great Jewish scholars were born and lived in Paris in the modern period. They included the Nobel Prize winners Rene Cassin and A. Lwoff. On June 14, 1940, the Wehrmacht entered Paris, which was proclaimed an open city. Most Parisians left, including the Jews. However, the population returned in the following weeks. A sizable number of well-known Jews fled to England and the USA. (Andre Maurois), while some, e.g. Rene Cassin and Gaston Palewski, joined General de Gaulle's free French movement in London. Parisian Jews were active from the very beginning in resistance movements. The march to the etoile on Nov. 11, 1940, of high school and university students, the first major public manifestation of resistance, included among its organizers Francis Cohen, Suzanne Dijan, and Bernard Kirschen.

The first roundups of Parisian Jews of foreign nationality took place in 1941; about 5,000 "foreign" Jews were deported on May 14, about 8,000 "foreigners" in August, and about 100 "intellectuals" on December 13. On July 16, 1942, 12,884 Jews were rounded up in Paris (including about 4,000 children). The Parisian Jews represented over half the 85,000 Jews deported from France to extermination camps in the east. During the night of Oct. 2-3, 1941, seven Parisian synagogues were attacked.

Several scores of Jews fell in the Paris insurrection in August, 1944. Many streets in Paris and the outlying suburbs bear the names of Jewish heroes and martyrs of the Holocaust period and the memorial to the unknown Jewish martyr, a part of the Centre de documentation juive contemporaire, was erected in in 1956 in the heart of Paris.

Between 1955 and 1965, the Jewish community experienced a demographic transformation with the arrival of more than 300,000 Sephardi Jews from North Africa. These Jewish immigrants came primarily from Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. At the time, Morocco and Tunisia were French protectorates unlike Algeria which was directly governed by France. Since their arrival, the Sephardi Jews of North Africa have remained the majority (60%) of French Jewry.

In 1968 Paris and its suburbs contained about 60% of the Jewish population of France. In 1968 it was estimated at between 300,000 and 350,000 (about 5% of the total population). In 1950, two-thirds of the Jews were concentrated in about a dozen of the poorer or commercial districts in the east of the city. The social and economic advancement of the second generation of east European immigrants, the influx of north Africans, and the gradual implementation of the urban renewal program caused a considerable change in the once Jewish districts and the dispersal of the Jews throughout other districts of Paris.

Between 1957 and 1966 the number of Jewish communities in the Paris region rose from 44 to 148. The Paris Consistory, traditionally presided over by a member of the Rothschild family, officially provides for all religious needs. Approximately 20 synagogues and meeting places for prayer observing Ashkenazi or Sephardi rites are affiliated with the Consistory, which also provides for the religious needs of new communities in the suburbs. This responsibility is shared by traditional orthodox elements, who, together with the reform and other independent groups, maintain another 30 or so synagogues. The orientation and information office of the Fonds social juif unifie had advised or assisted over 100,000 refugees from north Africa. It works in close cooperation with government services and social welfare and educational institutions of the community. Paris was one of the very few cities in the diaspora with a full-fledged Israel-type school, conducted by Israeli teachers according to an Israeli curriculum.

The Six-Day War (1967), which drew thousands of Jews into debates and
Pro-Israel demonstrations, was an opportunity for many of them to reassess their personal attitude toward the Jewish people. During the "students' revolution" of 1968 in nearby Nanterre and in the Sorbonne, young Jews played an outstanding role in the leadership of left-wing activists and often identified with Arab anti-Israel propaganda extolling the Palestinian organizations. Eventually, however, when the "revolutionary" wave subsided, it appeared that the bulk of Jewish students in Paris, including many supporters of various new left groups, remained loyal to Israel and strongly opposed Arab terrorism.

As of 2015, France was home to the third largest Jewish population in the world. It was also the largest in all of Europe. More than half the Jews in France live in the Paris metropolitan area. According to the World Jewish Congress, an estimated 350,000 Jews live in the city of Paris and its many districts. By 2014, Paris had become the largest Jewish city outside of Israel and the United States. Comprising 6% of the city’s total population (2.2 million), the Jews of Paris are a sizeable minority.

There are more than twenty organizations dedicated to serving the Jewish community of Paris. Several offer social services while others combat anti-Semitism. There are those like the Paris Consistory which financially supports many of the city's congregations. One of the largest organizations is the Alliance Israélite Universelle which focuses on self-defense, human rights and Jewish education. The FSJU or Unified Social Jewish Fund assists in the absorption of new immigrants. Other major organizations include the ECJC (European Council of Jewish Communities), EAJCC (European Association of Jewish Communities), ACIP (Association Consitoriale Israelité), CRIF (Representative Council of Jewish Institutions), and the UEJF (Jewish Students Union of France).

Being the third largest Jewish city behind New York and Los Angeles, Paris is home to numerous synagogues. By 2013, there were more than eighty three individual congregations. While the majority of these are orthodox, many conservative and liberal congregations can be found across Paris. During the 1980s, the city received an influx of orthodox Jews, primarily as a result of the Lubavitch movement which has since been very active in Paris and throughout France.

Approximately 4% of school-age children in France are enrolled in Jewish day schools. In Paris, there are over thirty private Jewish schools. These include those associated with both the orthodox and liberal movements. Chabad Lubavitch has established many educational programs of its own. The Jewish schools in Paris range from the pre-school to High School level. There are additionally a number of Hebrew schools which enroll students of all ages.

Among countless cultural institutions are museums and memorials which preserve the city's Jewish history. Some celebrate the works of Jewish artists while others commemorate the Holocaust and remember its victims. The Museum of Jewish art displays sketches by Mane-Katz, the paintings of Alphonse Levy and the lithographs of Chagall. At the Center of Contemporary Jewish Documentation (CDJC), stands the Memorial de la Shoah. Here, visitors can view the center's many Holocaust memorials including the Memorial of the Unknown Jewish Martyrs, the Wall of Names, and the Wall of the Righteous Among the Nations. Located behind the Notre Dame is the Memorial of Deportation, a memorial to the 200,000 Jews who were deported from Vichy France to the Nazi concentration camps. On the wall of a primary school on rue Buffault is a plaque commemorating the 12,000 Parisian Jewish children who died in Auschwitz following their deportation from France between 1942 and 1944.

For decades, Paris has been the center of the intellectual and cultural life of French Jewry. The city offers a number of institutions dedicated to Jewish history and culture. Located at the Alliance Israélite Universalle is the largest Jewish library in all of Europe. At the Bibliothèque Medem is the Paris Library of Yiddish. The Mercaz Rashi is home to the University Center for Jewish Studies, a well known destination for Jewish education. One of the most routinely visited cultural centers in Paris is the Chabad House. As of 2014, it was the largest in the world. The Chabad House caters to thousands of Jewish students from Paris and elsewhere every year.

Located in the city of Paris are certain districts, many of them historic, which are well known for their significant Jewish populations. One in particular is Le Marais “The Marsh”, which had long been an aristocratic district of Paris until much of the city’s nobility began to move. By the end of the 19th century, the district had become an active commercial area. It was at this time that thousands of Ashkenazi Jews fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe began to settle Le Marais, bringing their specialization in clothing with them. Arriving from Romania, Austria, Hungary and Russia, they developed a new community alongside an already established community of Parisian Jews. As Jewish immigration continued into the mid 20th century, this Jewish quarter in the fourth arrondissement of Paris became known as the “Pletzl”, a Yiddish term meaning “little place”. Despite having been targeted by the Nazis during World War II, the area has continued to be a major center of the Paris Jewish community. Since the 1990s, the area has grown. Along the Rue des Rosiers are a number of Jewish restaurants, bookstores, kosher food outlets and synagogues. Another notable area with a sizeable Jewish community is in the city’s 9th district. Known as the Faubourg-Montmarte, it is home to several synagogues, kosher restaurants as well as many offices to a number of Jewish organizations.

With centuries-old Jewish neighborhoods, Paris has its share of important Jewish landmarks. Established in 1874 is the Rothschild Synagogue and while it may not be ancient, its main attraction is its rabbis who are well known for being donned in Napoleonic era apparel. The synagogue on Rue Buffault opened in 1877 and was the first synagogue in Paris to adopt the Spanish/Portuguese rite. Next to the synagogue is a memorial dedicated to the 12,000 children who perished in the Holocaust. The Copernic synagogue is the city’s largest non-orthodox congregation. In 1980 it was the target of an anti-Semitic bombing which led to the death of four people during the celebration of Simchat Torah, the first attack against the Jewish people in France since World War II. In the 1970s, the remains of what many believed to have been a Yeshiva were found under the Rouen Law Courts. Just an hour outside of Paris, this site is presumed to be from the 12th century when Jews comprised nearly 20% of the total population.

Serving many of the medical needs of the Jewish community of Paris are organizations such as the OSE and CASIP. While the Rothschild hospital provides general medical care, the OSE or Society for the Health of the Jewish Population, offers several health centers around the city. CASIP focuses on providing the community social services include children and elderly homes.

Being a community of nearly 400,000 people, the Jews of Paris enjoy a diversity of media outlets centered on Jewish culture. Broadcasted every week are Jewish television programs which include news and a variety of entertainment. On radio are several stations such as Shalom Paris which airs Jewish music, news and programming. Circulating throughout Paris are two weekly Jewish papers and a number of monthly journals. One of the city’s major newspapers is the Actualité Juive. There are also online journals such as the Israel Infos and Tribute Juive.

Nice

Nice

Capital of the Alpes-Maritimes department on the French Riviera, France.

21ST CENTURY

Nice is home to the Musee National Message Biblique Marc Chagall, one of the most important collections of Marc Chagall’s work.

The major synagogues in Nice are the Grade Synagogue, the Association Culturelle Israelite de Nice, the Conservative Comunaute Juive Massorti Maayane Or, and the Reform Union Liberale Israelite de France. There are also a number of kosher restaurants in the city, and supermarkets that offer kosher food options.
 

HISTORY

The statutes of Nice, which was enacted in 1342 when the town belonged to Provence, compelled the Jews to wear an identifying badge; this is the first specific mention of the presence of Jews in Nice.

The community had its own bailiff by 1406, when Nice was part of Savoy. Two years later, in 1408, the community owned a cemetery, and there was a synagogue in the city at least from 1428.

An edict issued by the Duke of Savoy in 1430 (that also included the Jews of Turin), protected the Jews from forced baptism, but imposed upon them a series of prohibitions including on money lending and collecting interest. The edict also confined Jewish residence to a separate quarter, the Guidaria. However, in spite of these restrictions, in 1449 a Jew was permitted to settle outside of the Jewish Quarter, and charge rates of 20% interest.

In 1499, Jews who had been expelled from the island of Rhodes were permitted to settle in Nice.

Beginning in 1551, the Jews of Nice were placed under the jurisdiction of a conservator, with the exception of cases of crimes and offenses committed against Catholicism. Additionally, the local Jews were authorized to freely engage in money lending and practicing medicine. At this time the Jews of Nice also began to work in commerce.

A number of crypto-Jews, who were usually referred to as “Portuguese” came to Nice from Italy and Holland beginning in 1648, joining the "old Nissards." They were drawn to Nice by the free port edict, which expressly favored the Jews by granting them advantageous privileges. Starting in 1669 many Jews arrived from Oran (Algeria) and were even able to bring their slaves. These newcomers, who settled outside of the ghetto, were accorded full rights as part of the existing community, without having to contribute to the community’s expenses.

Until the beginning of the 17th century, the Jewish community of Nice was affiliated with the community of Turin; it eventually became independent. The community, known as the Universita, was led by massari-parnassim, deputies, councilors, and a treasurer. The city’s Jews spoke Judeo-Nicois, a mixture of the local dialect and Hebrew.

Nice’s Jewish community had a number of diverse groups, and community cohesion took place slowly, over time. This was helped by the fact that a number of legal differences governing the groups were eventually allowed to become obsolete by the authorities. This became particularly true in 1732 when all Jews, regardless of ethnicity or country of origin, were again forced to live in the Jewish Quarter, the Rue Giudaria.  

The temporary reunion of Nice with France from 1792 to 1814 resulted in emancipation for the Jews, but they subsequently lost these new rights with the return of the Sardinian administration. Thus, in 1828, the Jews were ordered to return to the ghetto, and it was only in 1848 that real, lasting emancipation was granted. The 1860 annexation of Nice by France did not result in further changes in the social and economic situation of the Jews.

In 1808 the Jewish population of Nice was approximately 300. In 1909 it was 500 (out of a total population of 95,000) and did not substantially change until World War II (1939-1945).

 

THE HOLOCAUST

During World War II Nice was occupied by Italy. Because it was not under German occupation, thousands of Jews from other areas came to Nice to take refuge in the city. As a result, for a time the city became an important center for various Jewish organizations, particularly after the landing of the Allies in North Africa (November 1942).

However, after the Italians signed an armistice with the Allies, German troops invaded the former Italian Zone on September 8, 1943. Brunner, the SS official in charge of Jewish affairs, led the units that were formed to search for Jews.

Within five months, 5,000 Jews were caught and deported, while large numbers were killed in Nice itself. However, the courage displayed by the resistance and Jewish youth movements, along with the sympathy of the vast majority of the population and clergy, helped save thousands who were either hidden or given help when they escaped.

 

POSTWAR

After the liberation several hundred Jews, original inhabitants of Nice and refugees who arrived during the war, reestablished the community. With the influx of Jews from North Africa in the 1960s, the Jewish population in Nice and the surrounding area increased from 2,000 to 20,000 in 1969.

Moscow

Moscow

Москва Moskva

Capital of Russia since 1918. The political, economic, and commercial center of Russia.

Jews were forbidden to reside in Moscow until the end of the 18th century, although many Jewish merchants from Poland and Lithuania visited the town on business. A few Jews had arrived during the Russian-Polish war of the 17th century as prisoners. Among them were some who converted to Christianity and remained in the city. Peter Shafizov, one of the most important advisors to Czar Peter the Great was of Jewish origin.

The First Partition of Poland in 1772 brought a number of Jews to Moscow, particularly from Shklov, which was then an important commercial center in Belarus. In 1790, Moscow merchants requested that the presence and commercial activities of Jews in the city be prohibited; a royal decree forbidding Jewish merchants from settling in the inner districts of Russia was subsequently issued in 1791. However, they were still allowed to reside in Moscow temporarily in order to trade and Jewish merchants continued to play an important role in the trade between Moscow and the Southern and Western regions of Russia, as well as in the export of Moscow's goods. As a result, Russian industrialists in Moscow tended to support granting rights to the Jews of the city.

In 1828, certain classes of Jewish merchants were authorized to remain in Moscow on business for a period of one month only (in 1832 all classes of Jewish merchants were allowed to stay in the city for up to half a year), and could stay only in one inn, Glebovskoye Podvoriye. The inn was a charitable trust which had been handed over to the Moscow Town Council so that its income could be used for the maintenance of a municipal eye clinic. Because it was the only place that Jewish merchants could stay while they were in Moscow, they were forced to pay exorbitant prices to stay at the inn. With the ascension of Czar Alexander II in 1855, restrictions were eased; Jewish merchants of the first guild, university graduates, army veterans, and certain medical professionals were permitted to live anywhere in the city.

The first Jews to settle permanently in Moscow, who became the founders of the community, were cantonists (Jews who had been conscripted to the military as children) who had finished their military service, some of whom had married Jewish women from the Pale of Settlement. In 1858 there were 340 Jewish men and 104 Jewish women in the entire District of Moscow. From 1865 to 1889 Rabbi Chaim Berlin served as the chief rabbi of Moscow, and in 1869 the community invited Shlomo Minor, one of the outstanding students of the Vilna rabbinical seminary, to serve as the Kazyonny Ravvin (Government Appointed Rabbi).

In 1871, the Jewish population of Moscow was estimated at around 8,000. This number grew to about 12,000 in 1882 and 35,000 (over 3% of the total population) in 1890, just before the expulsion.

The governor of Moscow, Prince Paul Dmitriyevich Dolgorukov, was known for his liberal attitude towards the Jews and (after receiving bribes and gifts) the local administration was willing to overlook their occasionally illegal presence in the city (for example, in the cases of those who falsely claimed to be merchants and artisans). While anti-Jewish persecutions and decrees were gaining momentum throughout Russia after the ascension of Czar Alexander III, the attempts to expel the Jews from Moscow were delayed. This peace proved to be temporary when Prince Dolgorukov was removed from office, and Grand Prince Sergei Alexandrovich was appointed in his stead. One of his explicitly-stated goals in taking office was "to save Moscow from the Jews." Shortly thereafter, on March 28, 1891 (Passover Eve, 5651), Jews began to be expelled from the city.

The expulsion from Moscow came as a deep shock to Russian Jewry. Within a short period of time, approximately 20,000 Jews were expelled from Moscow. The poor were sent to the Pale of Settlement on criminal transports and generous rewards were offered for the capture of any Jews hiding in the city. A considerable number of those expelled arrived in Warsaw and Lodz, and began to rebuild their businesses. At the height of the expulsion period, the authorities closed down the new Choral Synagogue, which had just been built in 1891, as well as 9 of the 14 prayer houses. It was not until 1906 that permission was granted for the Choral Synagogue to be reopened.

In 1897 there were 8,095 Jews living in Moscow (0.8% of the total population. Additionally, there were 216 Karaites living in the city). In 1902 there were 9,339 Jews living in the city, with half of them declaring Yiddish as their mother tongue; the overwhelming majority of others declared it to be Russian. In 1893 Ya'akov (Iakov) Mazeh was elected as the rabbi of Moscow, and remained its spiritual leader until his death in 1923.

Increasing numbers of Jewish students arrived in Moscow during the end of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century in order to pursue higher education. In 1886 there were about 298 Jewish students in the city, and in 1911 there were about 700. Additionally, after the outbreak of World War I, streams of Jewish refugees began arriving from the German-occupied regions. They took part in the development of war industries, and some amassed large fortunes. In a short period of time, Moscow became a center of Jewish life and culture. Hebrew printing presses were set up and a large Lithuanian yeshivah was founded in the town of Bogorodsk, near Moscow. The Hebrew theater Habimah performed its first play in 1917 (its masterpiece, Sh. Ansky's "Ha-Dibuk," would premiere in January 1922). Authorization was given for the publication of a Hebrew weekly, "Ha-Am." The founding conference of the Organization for Hebrew Education and Culture, Tarbut, was held in Moscow in the spring of 1917. While these cultural activities continued through the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the new regime rapidly shut down most of the institutions of Hebrew culture in Moscow. The Habimah Theater was more fortunate; it continued to exist and was protected several prominent members of the Russian artistic and literary world, who defended it as a first-class artistic institution.

The headquarters of the Yevsektsiya, the Jewish section of the Soviet Communist Party, were located in Moscow, where they published their central newspaper, "Der Emes," from 1920 until 1938, as well as many other Yiddish newspapers and books. The Jewish state theater (known in Russia by its Russian initials, GOSET), directed by Solomon Mikhoels, was also located in Moscow. For a number of years, small circles of organized Zionists continued to exist in the city, which was the central location of the legal He-Chalutz as well as of Po'alei Zion. The Yiddish Theater moved from Petrograd to Moscow in 1920, and in 1925 it was reorganized as the Moscow State Yiddish Theater. In 1926 the Second Moscow University opened a department to prepare future teachers to teach at Jewish schools.

This cultural blossoming came to a halt during the 1930s. The last Jewish school was closed in 1936, while most Yiddish language educational and cultural institutions were closed in 1937 and 1938. The mass arrests from 1936=1938 also claimed a large number of Jews from Moscow, many of whom were party elites.

When Moscow became the capital of the Soviet Union in 1918, its Jewish population began rapidly increasing. In 1920 there were 28,000 Jews in the city, which had become severely depopulated as a result of the civil war. By 1923 that number had increased to 86,000, and by 1926 to 131,000 (6.5% of the total population). In 1940 the Jewish population was estimated at 400,000. In the census of 1959, 239,246 Jews (4.7% of the total population) were registered in the municipal area of Moscow; these numbers are thought to be a gross underestimate, and some opinions evaluate Moscow's Jewish population during that time as being as high as 500,000.


During World War II, from 1943, Moscow was the headquarters of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, which gathered together major well-known Soviet Jewish figures in order to assist the Soviet Union in its war effort against Nazi Germany and to mobilize world Jewish opinion and aid for this cause. It published a newspaper, "Eynikayt." The Anti-Fascist Committee attempted to continue its activities after the war, but was brutally suppressed in the years following the war. In 1950 the state security apparatus invented the Stalin Automobile Plant of Moscow (ZIS) Affair, accusing 48 people (42 of whom were Jews) of organizing a Jewish national sabotage group at the plant, led by the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. All ten people who were executed were Jews. Indeed, Moscow's Jews were particularly affected by Stalin's anti-Semitic campaigns after the war. Many of Moscow's Jews were fired from their jobs, arrested, and even executed after being falsely accused of various plots against Stalin and the state.

When Golda Meir, the first diplomatic representative of the State of Israel, arrived in Moscow on September 1948, a spontaneous mass demonstration of Jews in her honor took place on the High Holidays near and around the Moscow Choral Synagogue, angering Soviet officials. Later, the Israel delegation to the Youth Festival, held in Moscow in 1957, was the first opportunity that Jewish youth from Israel and the USSR had to form personal connections.

By 1970, there were three functioning synagogues in Moscow, the most historically significant of which was the Moscow Choral Synagogue (one of the three would be closed down by the authorities in 1972). In the 1950s and 1960s, The Moscow Choral Synagogue was allowed to issue a Jewish calendar and to send it to other synagogues in the USSR. In 1956 the synagogue's rabbi, Rabbi Solomon Schliefer ,was granted permission to print a prayer book from older prayer books. He named it "Siddur Ha-Shalom" ("The Prayer Book of Peace") and deleted all references to wars and victories (for example, the prayers said on Chanukkah and Purim). He is said to have printed 3,000 copies, but it was rarely seen in other synagogues in the Soviet Union. In 1957, Rabbi Schliefer was given permission by the authorities to open a yeshiva on the premesis of The Great Synagogue. He called it "Kol Ya'akov" ("The Voice of Jacob") and for several years a small number of young and middle-aged Jewish men, mostly from Georgia, were trained there. Nearly all the men learning there trained to be shochatim (ritual slaughterers), and the number of ordained rabbis did not exceed 1 or 2. By 1963 37 students had passed through the yeshiva; 25 of them had been trained as shochatim. In 1965 there was only 1 student studying there. Beginning in 1961, a barrier was erected in the Moscow Choral Synagogue to separate foreign visitors, including Israeli diplomats, from the local congregation and the synagogue's officers were responsible for strictly enforcing the segregation. In 1962, matzah-baking and distribution was restricted in Moscow, as well as in most other areas of the Soviet Union.


Yiddish folklore concerts took place relatively frequently in the city and drew large crowds. A semi-professional theater troupe was established, led by the actor Benjamin Schwartzer, and mainly performed Sholom Aleichem plays in provincial cities. In 1961 the Yiddish journal "Sovietish Heymland," edited by an officially appointed editor, the poet Aaron Vergelis, began to appear as an "organ of the Soviet Writers' Union."The Moscow Jewish Tramatic Ensemble was created in 1962 (which would be renamed the Shalom Jewish Dramatic Theater Studio).

The Six Day War and the subsequent rupture of diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and Israel put an end to cultural contacts between the two countries. But many of Moscow's Jews, particularly the younger generation, began demonstrating their feelings of Jewish nationalism more openly. Simchat Torah at the Moscow Choral Synagogue became a time for thousands of Jews to come together and sing Yiddish and Hebrew songs. These Jews began studying Hebrew in small, secret groups and publishing samizdat (underground publications). Jews organized groups to study Judaism and Jewish history, and held Jewish song contests. They also demonstrated and signed petitions against the refusal to grant them exit permits to Israel. A number of these activists ("refuseniks") were arrested for their activities, including Ida Nudel, Yosef Begun, and Natan (Anatoly) Sharansky.