Jews in Russia

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To Russian Jews, the synagogue was the center of religion and religion was the

most important thing in their lives. The rabbi was their leader, they came to him with

every problem they had. Jews were poor, but they all gave tzedakah. It was said that

even the poorest Jews could find someone poorer to help and give money to. According

to the Jewish religion, tzedakah is one of the most important mitzvahs you can do. The

same could be said about the Jewish holidays. They were observed very strictly, but

Shabbat was the most welcomed. In order to teach the importance of Jewish law, they

started their own schools, their own courts of law, and their own burial societies. even

though there were pogroms, religious persecution forced the Jews to create stronger

communities and made them more united.

In the beginning of the 1800s, Alexander I ruled Russia.

He promised the Jews

that they could become farmers, could live in two districts, and could buy unoccupied

land. Although Alexander was kind and helped the Jews, the tax they were forced to pay,

stayed. before he died in 1825, the Jewish situation became hard for them to bare. They

lived in poverty in small and crowded places and were oppressed.

For hundreds of years, Jews lived these ways in two communities - the ghetto and the

shtetl. To keep out thieves and rioters from coming in, they built walls around their

section of town. When they did this, the government and churches got an idea, they

would use the walls that the Jews built, to lock them in.

These walls were located near a foundry that made cannons, so they named it

"ghetto" which means "foundry". They would close the gates every night and the Jews

would be locked...