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History of the Jews in the Soviet Union

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Title: History of the Jews in the Soviet Union  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Historical Jewish population comparisons, Aliyah, Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Monistritch (Hasidic dynasty)
Collection: Jewish Russian and Soviet History
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

History of the Jews in the Soviet Union

The history of the Jews in the Soviet Union is primarily the history of Jews in its component states.


  • Armenia 1
  • Azerbaijan 2
  • Belarus 3
  • Estonia 4
  • Georgia 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7


The history of the Jews in Armenia dates back more than 2,000 years. After Eastern Armenia came under Russian rule in the early 19th century, Jews began arriving from Georgian Jews.


The History of the Jews in Sovietization all Zionism-related activities including those of cultural nature that were carried out in Hebrew were banned. In the early 1920s a few hundred Mountain Jewish families from Azerbaijan and Dagestan left for Palestine and settled in Tel-Aviv. The next aliyah did not take place until the 1970s, after the ban on Jewish immigration to Israel was lifted (see: Refusenik (Soviet Union)). Between 1972 and 1978 around 3,000 people left Azerbaijan for Israel. 1970 was the demographic peak for Azerbaijani Jews after World War II; according to the census, 41,288 Jews resided in Azerbaijan that year.[2] Many Jewish émigrés from Azerbaijan settled in Tel-Aviv and Haifa. There are relatively large communities of Mountain Jewish expatriates from Azerbaijan in New York and Toronto. Similar to many immigrant communities of the Czarist and Soviet eras in Azerbaijan, Ashkenazi Jews appear to be linguistically Russified. The majority of Ashkenazi Jews speak Russian as their first language with Azeri sometimes being spoken as the second. The number of Yiddish-speakers is unknown.


The Jews in Belarus were the third largest ethnic group in the country in the first half of the 20th century. Before World War II, Jews were the third among the ethnic groups in Belarus and comprised more than 40% of the population in cities and towns. The population of cities such as Minsk, Pinsk, Mahiliou, Babrujsk, Viciebsk, and Homiel was more than 50% Jewish. In 1897 there were 724,548 Jews in Belarus, i.e. 13.6% of the total population. Some 800,000 Jews—90% of the Jewish population—were killed in Belarus during the Holocaust.[3] According to the 2009 census, there were 12,926 Jews in Belarus (0.1% of the population).[4] The Jewish Agency estimates the community of Jews in Belarus at 70,000. Marc Chagall, Mendele Mocher Sforim, Chaim Weizmann and Menachem Begin were born in Belarus. By the end of the 19th century, many Belarusian Jews were part of the general flight of Jews from Eastern Europe to the New World due to conflicts and pogroms engulfing the Russian Empire and the anti-Semitism of the Russian czars. Millions of Jews, including tens of thousands of Jews from Belarus, emigrated to the United States of America and South Africa. A small number also emigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine. During the first years of Soviet occupation of Belarus, Jews were able to get managing positions in the country. In WW II, atrocities against the Jewish population in the German-conquered areas began almost immediately, with the dispatch of Einsatzgruppen (task groups) to round up Jews and shoot them.

In the second half of the 20th century, there was a large wave of Belarusian Jews immigrating to

  1. ^ Advocates on Behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States, and Eurasia: Armenia and Jews
  2. ^ (Russian) The Electronic Jewish Encyclopædia: Azerbaijan
  3. ^ Associated Press, Oct 21, 2008, "Belarus marks ghetto's destruction 65 years on"
  4. ^ [1] Archived July 6, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b c
  6. ^ Jewish History in Estonia at
  7. ^ Weiss-Wendt, Anton (1998). The Soviet Occupation of Estonia in 1940-41 and the Jews. Holocaust and Genocide Studies 12.2, 308-325.
  8. ^ Berg, Eiki (1994). The Peculiarities of Jewish Settlement in Estonia. GeoJournal 33.4, 465-470.
  9. ^ The Wellspring of Georgian Historiography: The Early Medieval Historical Chronicle The Conversion of Katli and The Life of St. Nino, Constantine B. Lerner, England: Bennett and Bloom, London, 2004, p. 60


Pre-Soviet Union

The following articles discuss various aspects of Jewish history specific to the Soviet Union and the Soviet era:

This is discussed in more detail in the following articles:

See also

Initially, the Soviets allowed the Jews to maintain their religious customs, but after a collective farms. These small homogeneous communities became isolated Jewish communities where Jewish learning was continued. Recognizing this, the Communists disbanded the communities in the 1930s, scattering the Jews among various farms and destroying Jewish communal life. The situation of the Jewish community of Georgia improved dramatically due to the end of the Soviet occupation.

The Georgian Jews (Red Army invaded Georgia in February 1921, prompting a mass exodus from the region.

Georgia The life of the small Jewish community in Estonia was disrupted in 1940 with the

The history of the Jews in Estonia[6] starts with individual reports of Jews in what is now Estonia from as early as the 14th century. However, the process of permanent Jewish settlement in Estonia began in the 19th century, especially after they were granted the official right to enter the region by a statute of Russian Tsar Alexander II in 1865. This allowed the so-called Jewish 'Nicholas soldiers' (often former cantonists) and their descendants, First Guild merchants, artisans, and Jews with higher education to settle in Estonia and other parts of the Russian Empire outside their Pale of Settlement. The "Nicholas soldiers" and their descendants, and artisans were, basically, the ones who founded the first Jewish congregations in Estonia. The Tallinn congregation, the largest in Estonia, was founded in 1830. The Tartu congregation was established in 1866 when the first fifty families settled there. Synagogues were built, the largest of which were constructed in Tallinn in 1883 and Tartu in 1901. Both of these were subsequently destroyed by fire in World War II.


[5] Since the mass immigration of the 1990s, there has been some continuous immigration to Israel. In 2002, 974 Belarusians moved to Israel, and between 2003 and 2005, 4,854 followed suit.[5]

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