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Beyond the Pale: The Jewish Encounter with Late Imperial by Benjamin Nathans

By Benjamin Nathans

A shocking variety of Jews lived, actually and figuratively, "beyond the light" of Jewish cost in tsarist Russia through the half-century ahead of the Revolution of 1917. because of the supply of long-closed Russian records, in addition to quite a lot of different resources, Benjamin Nathans reinterprets the background of the Russian-Jewish encounter.In the wake of Russia's "Great Reforms," Nathans writes, a coverage of selective integration motivated social and geographic mobility one of the empire's Jews. The response that culminated, towards the flip of the century, in ethnic regulations on admission to universities, the professions, and different associations of civil society mirrored vast anxieties that Russians have been being put at a drawback of their personal empire. Nathans's conclusions in regards to the results of selective integration and the Russian-Jewish stumble upon in this formative interval could be of significant curiosity to all scholars of contemporary Jewish and sleek Russian background.

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Extra resources for Beyond the Pale: The Jewish Encounter with Late Imperial Russia

Example text

But by casting my approach in the form of an encounter, or rather as a series of encounters in diverse social arenas, I hope to demonstrate that interethnic relations, while conditioned by the high politics of imperial management, developed their own specific dynamics, with profound consequences for the individuals and groups involved, as well as for the empire as a whole. 31. , Kazan, Moscow, St. Petersburg: Multiple Faces of the Russian Empire (Moscow, 1997), p. 394. 16 introduction Contact among peoples and civilizations, of course, is a constantly recurring theme in human history.

Though not formally part of the hierarchy of estates that composed Polish society, in practice the Jews functioned as one of the many corporate elements in this characteristically segmented “old regime” society. The empire that annexed eastern Poland—and with it some half a million Jews—was not such a society. The status of social estates (soslovie, plural sosloviia) in Russia was particularly complex, not least because beginning with Peter the Great, official estate categories were more prescriptive than descriptive, reflecting the state’s desire to fashion from the top down a Europeanstyle social order.

It highlights the stratifying effects on Russian Jewry of half a century of selective integration, and suggests ways in which the Russian–Jewish encounter in the decades before the Revolution of 1917 prepared the ground for the remarkable place of Jews in early Soviet society. This book could not have been written before the collapse of the Soviet Union. For nearly the entire Soviet period, archival materials relating to the Russian–Jewish encounter—like those pertaining to nationality issues in general—were all but inaccessible to historians.

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