By Natan M. Meir
Populated by means of urbane Jewish retailers and pros in addition to new arrivals from the shtetl, imperial Kiev was once acclaimed for its possibilities for schooling, tradition, employment, and entrepreneurship yet cursed for the customarily pitiless persecution of its Jews. Kiev, Jewish city limns the heritage of Kiev Jewry from the reliable readmission of Jews to the town in 1859 to the outbreak of global battle I. It explores the Jewish community’s politics, its management struggles, socioeconomic and demographic shifts, non secular and cultural sensibilities, and relatives with the city's Christian inhabitants. Drawing on archival files, the neighborhood press, memoirs, and belles lettres, Natan M. Meir indicates Kiev's Jews at paintings, at relaxation, within the synagogue, and engaged within the actions of myriad Jewish corporations and philanthropies.
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Extra resources for Kiev, Jewish Metropolis: A History, 1859--1914
Varieties of Jewish Philanthropy” explores a central component of modern Russian Jewish communal existence by examining the wealthy benefactors who were behind many of the city’s Jewish charitable initiatives and the types of institutions they chose to establish. In accordance with their vision of the ideal community, health care was their first priority, followed by education; but whatever the field, they often made sure that the institutions they supported broadcast a political message to the authorities and to Russian society in addition to providing for the poor and the sick.
The “communal” rabbi was elected by prayer house parishioners, but not everyone wanted to or could afford to belong to a prayer house. The community could not be defined by restrictions on Jews to which the elite was not subject (which, as we shall see, was indeed the case in Kiev). Perhaps only during pogroms were all Jews linked by the threat of injury or death common to all, but even this fleeting moment, if it can be considered “communal,” was overshadowed by the bitter quarrels that ensued once victims demanded assistance and leaders were charged with deciding who would benefit and who would not.
Only 483 out of the 13,800 Jews in Kiev identified a language other than Yiddish—in most cases Russian—as their primary language. The growing Jewish student population was, of course, literate in Russian. Jews were allowed to reside in Kiev in order to enroll in educational institutions. ”66 According to an ac- SETTLEMENT AND GROWTH, 1859–1881 33 count from the 1850s, Jewish students came from two backgrounds: from wealthy and acculturated families, and from more traditional homes. 68 Lipski then came to Kiev to prepare for his admission to the university there.