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Kiev, Jewish Metropolis

A History, 1859--1914

Natan M. Meir

Publication Year: 2010

Populated by urbane Jewish merchants and professionals as well as new arrivals from the shtetl, imperial Kiev was acclaimed for its opportunities for education, culture, employment, and entrepreneurship but cursed for the often pitiless persecution of its Jews. Kiev, Jewish Metropolis limns the history of Kiev Jewry from the official readmission of Jews to the city in 1859 to the outbreak of World War I. It explores the Jewish community's politics, its leadership struggles, socioeconomic and demographic shifts, religious and cultural sensibilities, and relations with the city's Christian population. Drawing on archival documents, the local press, memoirs, and belles lettres, Natan M. Meir shows Kiev's Jews at work, at leisure, in the synagogue, and engaged in the activities of myriad Jewish organizations and philanthropies.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: The Modern Jewish Experience


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p. vii

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Acknowledgments [Includes Maps]

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pp. ix-xii

During the researching and writing of this book, which has been ten years in the making, I lived on three different continents, so I have the pleasure of thanking a great many people who assisted me in one way or another (and sometimes in many ways). First I would like to thank Michael Stanislawski, who guided this project and gave me the support and encouragement that were so crucial in my formative...

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pp. 1-20

Kiev, Jewish Metropolis is a study of the Jews of late imperial Kiev, and of Jewish institutions and Jewish leadership in that city, from the official readmission of Jews to Kiev by Tsar alexander II in 1859 to the outbreak of the First World War. The book examines the inner life of a dynamic and rapidly changing urban Jewry over the course of half a century, exploring its communal politics, leadership...

Part 1: The Early Years

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p. 21

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1. Settlement and Growth, 1859–1881

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pp. 23-58

The first two decades of Jewish settlement in Kiev were years of rapid growth and adaptation, as ever larger numbers of Jews took up residence in the city and quickly became acclimated to their new home. Christian Kievans, too, had to become accustomed to the sight of Jews in a city that had been (officially, at least) off-limits to Jewish settlement for several decades. This chapter attempts...

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2. The Foundations of Communal Life

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pp. 59-98

As is often the case with the establishment of new communities, patterns set in the first years frequently remain paradigms for years to come. So it was in Kiev. a number of blueprints for communal governance and philanthropic activity were laid down in the first years of Jewish settlement; these became “tradition” in more ways than one. as we will see in this chapter, the establishment...

Part 2: Jewish Metropolis

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p. 99

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3. The Consolidation of Jewish Kiev, 1881–1914 [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 101-149

In the last thirty-five years or so of Romanov rule, the Jewish population of Kiev continued to grow, and Jews continued to take root in the city despite increasingly strict enforcement of the regulations on Jewish residence there. In this chapter, we will survey the nuts and bolts of Jewish existence in Kiev—numbers, occupations, residential patterns—and then examine the bloody pogrom...

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4. Modern Jewish Cultures and Practices

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pp. 150-189

Jewish historiography has often regarded the Jews of Eastern Europe as an exception in the European Jewish encounter with modernity. along with Romania, the Russian Empire was the only European country that had not emancipated its Jews by the time of the First World War. External assimilatory pressures and internal forces for change had also apparently made fewer inroads on the masses.

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5. Jew as Neighbor, Jew as Other: Interethnic Relations and Antisemitism

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pp. 190-210

The two pogroms surveyed in earlier chapters, along with local anti- Jewish restrictions, day-to-day hostility, and rising nationalist sentiment, would seem to have made impossible the prospect of Jewish integration of any kind into the larger society. However, there were small but significant islands of neighborly interaction, cooperation, and even conviviality; and thus the reality...

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6. Varieties of Jewish Philanthropy [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 211-260

As Derek Penslar has suggested, modern Jewish philanthropy must be examined not only in the context of traditions of Jewish charity but also “within the framework of the modernization of philanthropy on the Continent as a whole.”1 The philanthropic and welfare institutions that Russian Jews developed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries cannot be fully understood if they are...

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7. Revolutions in Communal Life

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pp. 261-310

The tumultuous period from the Kishinev pogrom in April 1903 through the years of the First Russian Revolution of 1905–1907 witnessed the beginning of the mass politicization and mobilization of Russian Jewish society, as of the entire empire, and the legitimization of the leadership of new political forces in Russian Jewry, the socialists and the nationalists.1 Revolutionary groups—among them...

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pp. 311-317

This book has attempted to be two things: a history of late-imperial Kiev Jewry, and an evaluation of the development of Jewish collective existence in a Russian city under the last three tsars. First, some thoughts on the latter of these two. The drive to create new forms and conceptualizations of Jewish life in the Russian Empire was, as many historians have found, motivated both from...


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p. 319


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pp. 321-370


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pp. 371-390

Index [Includes About the Author]

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pp. 391-404

E-ISBN-13: 9780253004338
E-ISBN-10: 0253004330
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253222077

Page Count: 424
Illustrations: 33 b&w illus., 4 maps
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: The Modern Jewish Experience
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OCLC Number: 646788350
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Kiev, Jewish Metropolis

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Subject Headings

  • Kiev (Ukraine) -- Ethnic relations.
  • Jews -- Ukraine -- Kiev -- History -- 20th century.
  • Jews -- Ukraine -- Kiev -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
  • Jews -- Ukraine -- Kiev -- Social conditions -- 19th century.
  • Jews -- Ukraine -- Kiev -- History -- 19th century.
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