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Beyond the PaleThe Jewish Encounter with Late Imperial Russia$
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Benjamin Nathans

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520208308

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520208308.001.0001

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The Geography of Jewish Politics

The Geography of Jewish Politics

(p.165) Chapter 5 The Geography of Jewish Politics
Beyond the Pale

Benjamin Nathans

University of California Press

This chapter discusses the role of St. Petersburg's Jewish elites as self-appointed leaders of Russian Jewry as a whole, including their controversial response to the pogroms of 1881–82. It notes that St. Petersburg's Jewish community held the lead against considerable odds, including its small size, the internal fault lines that plagued its communal organizations, various state-imposed restrictions on its public activity, and eventually the emergence of Jewish movements opposed to gradualism and in some cases to integration itself. It observes that selective integration produced an extraordinary concentration of wealth and (secular) learning among St. Petersburg's Jews. It notes for a fact that the imperial capital was the nerve center of Russia's political, cultural, and economic life, moreover, fostered analogous ambitions among Jews there, who came to regard themselves as the natural leaders of Russian Jewry as a whole.

Keywords:   St. Petersburg's Jewish elites, pogroms, gradualism, selective integration, secular learning

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