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WESTERN SIBERIA in the middle of XIX — the BEGINNING of the 20th century

Yu.M. Goncharov

Article is devoted to studying religious life of Jews of Western Siberia in the second half of XIX — the beginning of the 20th century. The purpose of work is to consider formation of the religious communities of Jews as main factor of self-organization of the Jewish communities and maintaining national and religious identity. Process of education of the religious communities of Jews, emergence of synagogues in the cities of the region, specifics of religious life of Jews on the remote outskirts of the Russian Empire is shown.

Jews, Siberia, community, Judaism, synagogue, house of worship, religious life.

Complex national and ethnocultural problems of our days force to show consideration for historical experience of the international relations more and more. From this point of view history of the Siberian Jews — the people which had vastest experience of life in diaspora, appeared near the frontier of the multinational empire is of special interest. Siberia is the special region of Russia, with the huge territory, on the one hand — the area of intensive colonization, the place of the exile and penal servitude — with another. Throughout all the history it represented area of intensive ethnocultural contacts, the multinational region which population reflected variety of ethnic structure, the cultures and religions of Russia.

Data on various aspects of life of the Siberian Jews contain in a considerable circle of sources: acts, statistical materials, memoirs, letters, notes of travelers, periodicals, office work documentation, istorikoetnografichesky descriptions.

Life in Siberia, out of the pale of settlement, in an inoetnichny environment, set for Jews tasks to adapt to local conditions, to be integrated into the Siberian society, to apprehend other tenor of life. At the same time for Jews as diasporalny people, the task to keep own identity was always relevant. In this plan communal life, first of all its religious aspect, was one of the main factors of national self-organization.

As marks out N.B. Galakhov, accurate definition of the concept "Jewish community" does not exist. It can be treated and as religious community of brothers in faith, and as ethnic community [Galakhova, 2006, page 151]. In a case with the Siberian Jews living within settled life, these concepts coincided. According to L.V. Kalmina, about existence of the Jewish community it is possible to judge by two main signs. First, this presence of the steady ethnic community which is constantly living in any given settlement. Secondly, it is possible to speak about origin of community since that moment when to the need to survive and locate the requirement of national self-preservation increases [Kalmina, 2002, page 8].

As the most important incentive of association of Jews served the religion promoting strengthening of national consciousness and maintaining national originality. The first Jewish communities of Western Siberia at the beginning of the 19th century were so small that for a public prayer, as a rule, was not gathered ten men demanded by the Jewish law. Therefore the first houses of worship opened in the majority of the Siberian cities only in the second half of the XIX century. However already to the first half of the 19th century in the region the first communities appear (in Tobolsk, Kainsk and Tomsk), and on sources it is possible to note the first signs of communal life. In 1827 the largest communities were in Kainsk (327 people), Tobolsk


The research is executed with financial support of RGNF within the research project of RGNF "The Jewish Communities in the Russian Province in the Second Half of XIX — the Beginning of the 20th Century.", project No. of 10-01-60102a/T.

(128 people) and Tomsk (69 people). In Tyumen 17 Jews, lived in Yalutorovsk — 1. In Western Siberia in general there were 607 Jews [Ivonin, 1995, page 41].

In Tobolsk in 1813 there was an organized funeral brotherhood (hevre-kadisha) which had the blotter (pinkos). In 1818 the local community reconstructed the house bought from one lieutenant colonel in chapel [Ostrovsky, 1911, page 7-9]. In the memorable book of the Tobolsk province for 1860 it was indicated existence in the city of a synagogue [The memorable book..., 1860, page 135-136]. The prayful school at the beginning of the 19th century existed also in Kainsk. According to Yu. Gessen, "kainsky Jews, among about hundred, owning in the city 23 houses from which some were decoration of the city, constructed in 1816 "molebny school" instead of burned down" (tsit. on: [Romanova, 2000, page 5-6]).

In Tomsk in 1837 the local Jews appealed to the governor to allow them to arrange "prayful school" in the house which is specially acquired for this purpose on Magistratskaya Street and to approve the petty bourgeois of Nukhim Froymovich elected by community as the rabbi. The Jewish society referred to the decree of 1835 under which it was allowed to open houses of worship in the cities where there are 30 families of Jews. The register (list) with transfer of 35 Jewish families and 10 single Jews living in Tomsk was attached to the application. However because in the same 1837 the rules containing measures against resettlement of Jews to the Siberian provinces were taken ".", the governor general of Western Siberia did not allow to open the Jewish house of worship [Muchnik, 1999, page 59].

It is known that wooden synagogues in the middle of the 19th century existed also in Omsk and Ishi-

me where worked correcting a position of the rabbi. In Tobolsk from 1861 to 1863 the duties of the rabbi improved a reznik Mendel Gurin. The first "state" rabbi was chosen and confirmed to the post only in 1888 [Klyueva, 2005, page 44].

The problem of existence of the religious communities in the Tobolsk province consisted not only in lack of synagogues and rabbis, but also in the low number of Jews in the certain cities and districts. This problem was going to be solved due to association of Jews of several settlements in one religious community. For example, "the absent-minded and small Jewish population" of Tyumen, Yalutorovsk and Turinsk was offered "to be grouped in the religious relation" in Tyumen, where and to found "separate religious society or arrival, with required institutions where have to address for execution of religious practices" [In the same place, page 43].

Need of opening of synagogues and the choice of rabbis in Siberia was discussed at a meeting of the Jewish committee in the middle of the 1850th, but only a decade later this issue begins to be resolved. In 1867 "in types of bringing to Jews of a possibility of departure of public prayers and a bogomoleniye, and commission of religious practices and also execution of the requirement of local nachalstvo about their drive to the oath" the Ministry of Internal Affairs acquired the right to establish chapels and

economic boards out of the pale of settlement [Klyueva, 2004, page 17].

The Tomsk Jews got permission to open a synagogue in the city only in 1859. The Tomsk merchant of the 2nd guild A.M. Kaminer in a fencing of own house and on own means constructed it. Therefore local Jews so also called it — "kaminersky". In a year in a rank of the Tomsk rabbi the Mogilev petty bourgeois of Burke Levin who had the certificate on knowledge to them exercises "temporarily living" in the city and ability to interpret the law was approved. Levin who became soon the Tomsk merchant was the permanent rabbi of the Tomsk community up to the beginning of the 20th century. In 1877 it was specified in the list of merchants of Tomsk that Bercot Izrailevich Levin — "the rabbi of a house of worship" [GATO. T. 233. Op. 5. 177]. In its official list for 1903 it was recorded that for performance of duties of the rabbi he received from community contents in 300 rub. Twice he was awarded for public work: in 1881 the silver medal "For Diligence", in 1895 — a similar gold medal [Muchnik, 1999, page 60].

In Tomsk one synagogue not for long worked. Originally "kaminersky" synagogue was visited by also former and true soldiers from Jews. However they did not use "a special greeting" there. After once they were not let further a razdevalna, soldiers started collecting donations on a seyfer-Torah extract. Next year the roll was acquired, and in the fall of 1865 the temporary soldier's house of worship was open. In 1872 on the raised funds it was succeeded to build the constant building for military and prayful school on Nechayevskaya St. The first head and the treasurer elected the officer of local garrison Ger-tsel Yankelevich Tsam [Kizhner, 2000, page 5] (fig. 1). Subsequently elders and treasurers in

a current of 34 years the retired and serving soldiers were elected. Only as the soldier became less, in the head also Jews from new banished began to get out [Muchnik, 1999, page 63]. In 1875 in Tomsk 1 stone and 2 wooden synagogues worked [GATO. T. 234. Op. 1. 65. L. 1]. Two houses of worship were in 1884 in Tobolsk [The memorable book..., 1884, page 51].

Fig. 1. Gertsel Yankelevich Tsam is a head of the Tomsk military and prayful school

It should be noted that according to the legislation ("The charter of spiritual affairs of foreign confessions") not all Judaic religious institutions were called synagogues. The prayful school (house of worship) was allowed to be opened in settlements where the number of the Jewish houses was not less than 30, in the same cases when this number reached 80, except a house of worship it was allowed to have a synagogue. However accurate differences between synagogues, prayful schools and houses of worship did not exist and the Jews living in Siberia and petitioning for opening of prayful establishment did not see in them a basic difference. Therefore in ordinary life and in statistics materials most often all chapels were called synagogues while according to official documents were called differently. So, for example, in Tomsk was not 3 synagogues, but 1 — the Choral synagogue, 1 house of worship (Kaminersky synagogue) and 1 military and prayful school (Soldier's synagogue).

In 1902 in Tomsk on the place of the first synagogue the new Choral synagogue which consecration took place on September 15 was constructed. It represented the big stone building in style of retrospectivism of the beginning of the 20th century. The building was decorated east type with a lancet arch, an arkaturny belt and a decorative turret. All composition of the building came to the end with a six-pointed star of David (fig. 2). Besides the main building of a synagogue, in the yard the building of a Yeshibah, and in 1910 — almshouse which began to be called "An almshouse for aged Jews of both sexes of Isaak and Lidiya Bykhovskikh" was built. In 1907 the new two-storeyed wooden building on the brick base was built also for military prayful school (soldier's synagogue) [Kizhner, 2000, page 6-7].

Presence in Kainsk of numerous and wealthy community predetermined that in the city in the middle of the 19th century there was a prayful school. In 1892 on Aleksandrovskaya Street there is a two-storeyed wooden synagogue [Gusachenko, etc., 1995, page 23]. In 1895 the @-insky Jews addressed the Tomsk governor with the application on construction in Kainsk of new separate prayful school "in view of increase in the city of the Jewish population and impracticality of an old house of worship for so large number of visitors". In posledo-

to the report of the kainsky district district police officer, vavshy concerning this application, it was reported that 782 souls of male Jews live in the city, and the existing prayful school (constructed about 20 years ago) can contain 400 people [Kutilova, etc., 2000, page 61]. In December, 1896. The Tomsk provincial management allowed to found in Kainsk the second Jewish prayful school [In the same place, page 17-18].

Fig. 2. Tomsk Choral synagogue, 1902

Religious life of community of Mariinsk was concentrated around a synagogue which existed in the city from 1870th. In 1889 the merchant of the 2nd guild Isay Abramovich Yudalevich, 40, was elected the head of the Jewish house of worship as it was specified in the police report — "behavior good, under trial did not consist" [GAKO. T. 22. Op. 1. 160]. At the beginning of the 20th century this position was held by the merchant Abram Akselrud who in 1903 refused a position "on the upset health". For the choice of the new head of a house of worship all Jews living in the city and the county were invited by the agenda. I. Olkhovsky was chosen [In the same place. 346]. In "The description of Mariinsk" 1906 it is specified that the building of a house of worship was stone, also Jewish school worked in the city [In the same place. 102. L. 19].


In a house of worship constantly kept registers of births about record been born, contracting marriage and the dead. The form of the Jewish registers of births was close to the form of Orthodox Christians, taking into account a difference in ceremonies (instead of date of a baptism the date of trimming, etc. was specified). Books were bilingual — records were made in Russian and Hebrew. So, for example, it was reported that on January 26, 1898 at the Mariinsky merchant son Velyamin Ruvimovich Butkevich and his wife Esther Mulka Moiseevna the son was born in the village of Tisul. The ceremony of trimming was made on February 17 by Akselrud, the son received a name Moisey [In the same place. T. 60. Op. 1. 872. L. 5 about.]. And on February 12, 1889 the hereditary honourable citizen Labe Denisovich Preysman, 26 years, entered first marriage with devitseyu to Riva, 19 years, the daughter of the Mariinsky merchant Reuben Budkevich. At the same time it was specified: "The Ksuba is given on 200 gold, Bør Rabinowitsch and Moisey Shapiro witnessed" [In the same place. Op. 4. 2. L. 55 about.].

In the Tobolsk province, because of small number of the Jewish community (smallest of all Siberian provinces), by rules there could be only one rabbi. The dinaburgsky petty bourgeois Haim Arshon became the first official, or "state", the rabbi in 1888. Same year all

the Jews living in the province were ranked by provincial board as department of the Tobolsk rabbi. However considerable distances complicated execution of the duties by it. Nevertheless only in 1899 the provincial administration appointed two assistants to the rabbi: in Yalutorovsk — the druggist S. Ayzenshtadt and in Tyumen — the doctor D. Notorin. Both at the same time agreed to carry out duties gratuitously [Klyueva, 2005, page 44-45].

At the end of the 19th century the flow of the petition for opening of synagogues amplifies. In particular, residents of Tyumen, Yalutorovsk and Ishim wished to achieve it. Originally petitions were rejected under the pretext of the low number of "radical" inhabitants.

So, in 1899 in Tyumen there were only 3 houses of "the indigenous Jewish people". The first attempts of opening of a synagogue in Tyumen belong to the 1880th when the Tyumen merchant of the 1st guild Leonti Hotimsky strove on it. In 1895 the residents of Tyumen excited the petition for opening in the city of a house of worship again, and again they were refused [In the same place, 2005, page 47-48]. To the Tyumen Jews for opening of chapel it was granted permission only in 1905 [Kozlova-Afanasyeva, 2004, page 86].

Peculiar affairs in Yalutorovsk developed. Though officially here it was authorized to construct a synagogue only in 1902, presumably it existed at the end of the 1870th. In particular, in 1878 the Yalutorovsk merchant of the 2nd guild Mordukh Berkoich asked the Tobolsk governor about permission to construct prayful school in the city. And the building for school was built even before submission of the application. Fined for Berkovich's arbitrariness, the building had to be sold or demolished. But the police department did not receive any orders in this respect, and the prayful school was open in 1882 [Klyueva, 2005, page 48].

After changes in the policy of the government, in connection with adoption of the Manifesto of 1905 and the Decree on toleration of 1907, in Western Siberia, construction of new Judaic liturgical buildings becomes more active. In 1909 the Tyumen Jewish prayful society petitioned for construction in the city of a new stone synagogue, on as got permission. After construction of a new synagogue in 1912 old was closed as in the city there were not enough Jews to have two liturgical buildings. In 1912 in the Tobolsk province of a synagogue worked in Tobolsk, Tyumen, Tara, Tyukalinsk and Yalutorovsk [Klyueva, 2004, page 18].

In 1909 in Tomsk, according to CSK, 4 synagogues (actually, of course, the synagogue was one, the others had the status of prayful schools) and on one — in Kainsk, Mariinsk, Novonikolayevsk, Tobolsk, Tara, Tyumen were registered [RGIA. T. 1290. Op. 5. 245, 246]. In 1912, according to the book "City of Tomsk", three synagogues worked in the city. Their heads were: "Tomsk Jewish rabbi of B. Berra. Persons of spiritual board: on the first arrival (stone synagogue): the head is A.Ya. Dando, the treasurer — I.Ya. Zaigrayev, the scientist — M.A. Luriya; on the second arrival (kaminersky synagogue): the head is M.I. Heysin, the treasurer — A.H. Barokhovich, the scientist — G.I. Distler; on the third arrival (soldier's synagogue): the head G.Ya. Tsam, the treasurer E.V. Alperovich, the scientist — S.I. Leybovich" [The city of Tomsk, 1912, page 25]. In the report of the governor of the Tomsk province for 1913 it was noted that in Tomsk during this period two houses of worship, one synagogue and one rabbi worked; in Mariinsk — one house of worship and one rabbi. At the same time in other cities the province of rabbis was not. In the new Nikolaev synagogue the service was made by a reznik, in the Kainsky house of worship — the assistant to the Tomsk rabbi, in Tatarsk there were two houses of worship, the rabbi was not, in Barnaul there was one house of worship, the rabbi was also not [GATO. T. 3. Op. 77. 399. L. 68].

Religious life of Jews in Siberia, owing to specifics of local conditions, in many respects differed from religious life of their brothers in faith within settled life. Religious traditions on the remote outskirts of the country were carried out not so strictly — Saturday was not always observed, ritual ablution was not made, in house conditions the religious practices were performed not in full. Observance of rules of kashrut was sometimes just impossible because of absence in any given settlement of reznik. The administration constrained growth of number of the houses of worship which were the centers of religious life. And climatic features of the region did not promote execution of some ceremonies, for example ritual ablution in open reservoirs.

All this defined smaller religiousness of the Siberian Jews. So, Yu. Ostrovsky who devoted to the Siberian Jews the special book wrote at the beginning of the 20th century: "The Siberian Jew is not devout: he seldom goes to "chapel", trades on Saturdays, and some — even on holidays if the last coincide with market days, he also does not observe posts" [1911,

page 26]. Yu. Muchnik also notes that by the beginning of the 20th century in the majority the Siberian Jews of Saturday did not observe as well as other precepts. Very few people from them knew Hebrew and Yiddish [Muchnik, 1999, page 58].

The opinion is standard that "a certain tolerance of perception of each other the faces of different faiths is in many respects characteristic of Siberia" [Klyueva, 2004, page 17]. Really, Orthodox Christians, Catholics, Lutherans, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews side by side lived in the cities of Siberia, constantly interacting in household, economic and sociocultural spheres. The Polietnichny environment promoted development of religious tolerance, and the toleration problem was not particularly acute so, as in provinces of the Central Russia here: "Siberians are indifferent to religious practices. In Siberia there are a lot of dissenters, sectarians and in general free interpreters of the Scripture. Relations between various religious trends tolerant, peace. Even Siberians treat pagans kindly, for raznovery do not drive them and do not despise" [Petrov, 1908, page 84].

Conflict situations on religious grounds in Siberia were practically not. Only isolated cases occur in archival documents. So, for example, the Tomsk merchant son Isay Preysman at the end of the 1850th "was under examination about the offenses caused the priest Orlov with censure of orthodox Christian belief" and as a result "was sentenced with loss of some personal rights to the conclusion to one and a half years in prison" [RGIA. T. 1343. Op. 39. 5973. L. 5-7].

Accommodation among the prevailing Christian population could not but lead to the religion change facts. Owing to requirements of the legislation, in certain cases led desire to marry to it. So, for example, the Mariinsky petty bourgeois Alexey (do creshcheniya Yanquel) Abramovich Borodovsky in 1913 admitted to the chief of police that he addressed Orthodoxy only because was fond of the Russian girl and wanted to marry her. However the darling was married, and Borodovsky, without having stayed in Orthodoxy and several months, made the decision to return to Judaism [Muchnik, 1999, page 73].

Yu. Ostrovsky wrote that mixed marriages and transition to Christianity are observed among the Siberian Jews very seldom. The author explained it with the fact that such facts as mixed marriages, take place mainly among a so-called intelligent, liberal part of Jewry which quantity in Siberia is insignificant [Ostrovsky, 1911, page 47].

Religious influence of Mariinsky Jewish community led to the fact that in the city in the second half of XIX — the beginning of the 20th century there was a considerable community of sectarians community work days [Goncharov, 2000, page 29].

Presence of considerable Jewish community in Kainsk also predetermined the proselytism facts, rare for Judaism. So, in 1839 in the Tomsk spiritual consistory case of 17 kainsky petty bourgeoises calling themselves by "community work days", celebrating Easter and burying the relatives on the Jewish ceremony entering marriages with Jews and Jews was considered. All of them were not indigenous Siberians, but got to Kainsk from the center of Russia, before arrival to Siberia professed Orthodoxy. As a result of judicial proceedings "community work days" were banished on the settlement to otdalenneyshy places of Siberia, and their sons are given in kantonist. The Kainsky city police ordered to local Jewish society that "they people, under a name of the community work days professing the Jewish belief did not let in the synagogues and houses of worship". Two kainsky merchants of the 2nd guild suspected of "seduction" of people from Orthodoxy in Judaism were interrogated and subjected to fines. Several Jews who allowed the children to enter marriages with "community work days" were banished to the Yakut area under observation of police [Muchnik, 1999, page 74].

Thus, at a boundary of the 19-20th centuries the Siberian Jews formed rather specific community, considerably differing on the way of life, an economic and social status, cultural psychologically type from Jews not only the pales of settlement, but also all other territories of the Russian Empire. The Siberian Jews put on, spoke, their tribespeople thought differently, than within. Local communities were differently connected with the ethnic majority and power structures.

Nevertheless you should not exaggerate assimilyatorsky trends. Thanks to the fact that communities were numerous and influential in the Siberian cities local Jews in many respects kept the religious feelings and national peculiarities. Residents of those cities where there were the large general had the greatest opportunities for participation in religious life

ny: Tobolsk, Omsk, Tyumen, Kainsk, Tomsk, Mariinsk. In the cities with the insignificant Jewish population attempts to adjust communal life were also made.

At the end of XIX — the beginning of the 20th century Jews were successfully integrated into the Siberian society and adapted to new conditions, having become one of components of the Siberian society, having kept at the same time the national and confessional identity and having managed not to overstep the bound between acculturation and assimilation. Religious life was one of the most important forms of national self-organization and maintaining national identity of the Siberian Jews.



GAKO. T. 22. Op. 1. 102, 160, 346; T. 60. Op. 1. 872. Op. 4. 2.

GATO. T. 3. Op. 77. 399; T. 233. Op. 5. 177; T. 234. Op. 1. 65.

RGIA. T. 1290. Op. 5. 245, 246; T. 1343. Op. 39. 5973.


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Barnaul, Altai state university

The article s devoted to studying religious life of West Siberian Jews in the second half of XIX — early XX with. The paper is aiming to consider creation of Jewish religious communities as the main factor of self-organization with Jewish communities and preservation of their national and religious identity. The article shows a creation process regarding Jewish religious communities, formation of synagogues in towns of the region, specificity of a religious life with the Jews at the remote outskirts of the Russian Empire.

Jews, Siberia, community, Judaism, synagogue, praying house, religious life.

Rudolf Joseph
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