zieds1mazs2.gif (177 bytes) ROOTS=SAKNES zieds1mazs2.gif (177 bytes) Ethnicities zieds1mazs2.gif (177 bytes)Jews zieds1mazs2.gif (177 bytes) Help








zieds1mazs.gif (257 bytes)  Educational Pale


In this Page the possibilities and the restrictions of the education of Jews in the Russia Empire are discussed. It is supposed you have reached this Page from the Page that deals with all of the restrictions for Jews in the Empire, and consists of the following parts:

Geographical Pale
Economical Pale
Language Pale
Fashion Pale

Legal Pale

In this Page only the Educational Pale is discussed.

Educational Pale

In general the Jews of the Russia Empire were allowed to enter state and private secondary education institutions of the localities where their fathers had the right to settle in /Svod vol.9/. Quite important peculiarity should be realized here. The Law did not declare - inside the Pale but in the localities where the fathers were allowed to settle. One should conclude that, for example, the children of a merchant of the 1st guild could be enrolled in almost any school of the Empire, even if their parents in reality lived inside the Pale (the Jewish merchants of the 1st guild were allowed to settle almost anywhere in 1859).

If Jewish children were enrolled in a non-Jewish school, it was obligatory for their parents to inform the school officials that the children were Jewish, otherwise the parents were accused of forgery /Svod vol.9/. The Jewish pupils in these schools were not obliged to attend the lessons of a Christian religion. The religious education of Jewish children was the problem of their parents, though in reality some schools hired Rabbis for teaching Jewish students in their religion. For example, Riga city gymnasium in 1915 contracted Mordchel son of Leizer Gochman (Hochman?) as the teacher of the Jewish Law i.e. the Judaism. By the way, in this school Hebrew was taught by a Lutheran Pastor (Otto Pohrt).

It was allowed to study in all higher education institutions of the Empire no matter if the Jewish students or their parents were allowed to settle outside the Pale, or not. Of course, there were also exceptions. The statutes of an educational institute could state that Jews were not enrolled. In practice, it was the case for military schools except the Academy of military medicine where Jewish students were prohibited only since 1887, the state schools of dramatic actors (there were 2 of them) and may be some others.

The most of the above mentioned rules concerning Jewish education have already been set forth by the Law of 1804, but I suppose that they were mainly put in life about 1844 when serious reform of Jewish education was carried out and the state elementary Jewish schools (crown schools) were set up. Only these schools, not the Jewish traditional schools haderim and yeshibot, could prepare the school-leavers for enrollment at gymnasia, because in the crown schools the Russian language was taught.

The /Encyclopedia/ informs that there were only 750 Jewish students in the state-owned institutions of the secondary education of the Empire in 1841, and to 1865 the number increased only to 990. It is known that the Jewish community in Russia (and in the whole Europe) of that time discussed the very need for non-Jewish education of Jews, and some religious leaders denied it was needed. Later the attitude of Jews to the formal education changed significantly. For example, in 1863 a society for Jewish education was organized that supported Jewish students financially. A.Solzhenicin /Solzhenicin/ asserts that the new Law of compulsory military service, that was adopted in 1873, stimulated Jewish education enormously, because men with secondary and higher education had serious facilitation in the service term. More on the military service in another Page.

In any case, the number of Jewish students increased very fast and in the 1880s about 10% of all students of secondary schools in the Empire were Jews. Evidently this was one of the reasons why Tzar Alexander III decreed new restrictions. Another reason was, of course, the activity of educated Jews in the revolutionary movement including terrorist organizations. The best known of the restrictions is the percentage norms in education institutions that were introduced in 1887. As far as I know, similar norms existed also for Poles including in them also Latvians in Latgale who were Catholics like Poles, but I have not found details yet.

The secondary and higher education institutions and apriņķis level schools in the territory of the Pale were allowed to have Jewish students not more than 10% of the total student number, in other regions 5%, in the both capitals i.e. in St. Petersbourg and Moscow - 3%. As the percentage was to be calculated of the total number of students, it follows that if one year a lot of Christian students dropped out, the enrollment of Jewish students next year was smaller and vice versa. The percentage was calculated for each particular school separately, not for all schools of the locality together. Especially restrictive was the limitation of 10% for secondary schools inside the Pale, because Jewish population prevailed in many places there and could reach 70% or even more.

As far as I understand, the Law imposed no restrictions on the enrollment of Jews at the Conservatories of the Royal Russia Music Society, at least it was the situation in 1910. /Svod vol.9/

To my knowledge, the percentage norms were not observed in Rīga Politechnicum until 1895, when it became Rīga Politechnical Institute, though in the secondary schools of Kurzeme [Kurland] they were taken into account from the moment of the introduction. In any case, it is possible to find Jews from many regions of the Pale on the list of the students of Riga Politechnicum. The only university of the Baltic provinces - University of Tartu [Dorpat] got 1902 students in Oct. 1906, and 192 of them were Jews or about 10% instead of allowed 5% /KV/. By the way, Jewish family names began to occur on the lists of Tartu university students beginning of the 1870s.

One may conclude that it was possible for a university to follow its own politics concerning the enrollment of Jews, or concerning the non-enrollment if it was preferred. There were two universities inside the Pale - Warsaw university and Odessa university that could have 10% of Jewish students officially, but these universities were rather far from the region of Latvia.

Additional information about the real situation of Jewish education one can find in the Page about Tailova's girls gymnasium in Riga city that in 1909 had 17% Jewish students. It was important that the school was private, and it was an education institution for ladies. A.Solžeņicin claims /Solzhenicin/ that the percentage norms were not applied to private schools and to girls gymnasia, though the Law /Svod vol.9/ said nothing about it, and Belovinskis /Belovinskis/ asserts that the Percentage rules were obligatory for women education institutions as well. It is also known that the Minister of the People Education could permit Jews to enroll at universities more than the percentage allowed, and some ministers really did.

Jews were allowed to organize their own private or community-owned schools, what they did. No percentage norms were applied to those schools, of course. The system of education in the Baltic provinces including Jewish education will be studied in a separate page of ROOTS=SAKNES that is prepared now.

It seems to be interesting in the connection with Jewish education to discuss some information of the web site of Andrea Ehrlich Das Shtetl (in German) that describes the life of Jews inside the geographical Pale. The author has studied the data of 1897 about Jewish criminality published by Rudolf Wassermann and was surprised by unexpectedly great criminality level among Jewish women. It was explained that the Jewish women used to register as prostitutes in order to gain the possibility of studying in universities. The author cited a book of Joachim Schoenfeld: Shtetl Memoirs, Jews in Galicia under Austria and in the Reborn Poland - 1898-1939, Hoboken 1985. "Since prostitutes were given permission to live in the big cities regardless of their nationality, Jewish girls who wanted to gain a resident's license in a city where they could enroll in a university could obtain this privilege through the acquisition of the so called Yellow Ticket." A.Ehrlich did not want to be offensive and informed that in reality it was only faked registration, and in fact Jewish female university students did not exercise prostitution.

Not all is wrong in the citation above. Really, the prostitutes got a document called Yellow Ticket, and the Jewish prostitutes really were allowed to settle outside the Pale. However fantastic ignorance of details sticks out of the reasoning:

  • firstly, the prostitution was not considered as a crime beginning from 1843, so it had nothing to do with the criminal statistics of 1897. The registration of prostitutes was obligatory for medical purposes mainly, and brothels were considered (at least in Riga in 1897) as not useless institutions.
  • secondly, the enrolees in universities needed passports with clearly stated permission for the holder to go to study in the university, but when a prostitute got the Yellow Ticket in the local police office, her passport was taken off. No need to go to a university with the Yellow Ticket - it could only shock the university people and nothing more.
  • thirdly, Jews could enroll at universities outside the Pale without any forgery as it was described above.
  • last, but not least - the women could not attend the universities of the Empire at all, and no exceptions were made for Jewish prostitutes, be sure.

The situation in the women education changed only in 1906, after the revolution of 1905. Some universities began to enroll women - not as the students but as what were called the free attendees. In 1908 the Ministry of the People Education canceled this wicked practice, and the Tzar allowed only already enrolled ladies to continue the education. Some years later, however, the women enrollment was renewed, and some universities organized special higher education institutions for women.

On the list of doctors in Latvia for 1940 one can see the year of graduation and conclude that not so few women doctors had graduated from universities (mainly Tartu university) before 1915 and a good number of them were Jewish. By the way, Hana Paturska, a dentist, mentioned in the page about Riga Synagogue graduated from Tartu university in 1913.

I have not seen the original statistics of R.Wasserman and have no information what were the figures that pushed to the conclusions concerning the criminality of Jewish women. I can just add some words about prostitution in Riga city from a paper of V.Zelče /Zelče/. According to the Census of 1897, there were 334 prostitutes registered in Rīga and 1% i.e. 3-4 of them were Jewish. The percentage is small, because the total share of Jews was 7.8% of Rīga population, which clearly indicates that prostitution was not very popular among Jewish women, at least in Rīga and at least if the registered business of this kind is considered.

The paper hints, however, that some Jews were engaged in the brothel management, for example, they participated in the recruiting of new working force for brothels. The list of the brothel hostesses (not the prostitutes), that is published in the paper, does not allow to make definite conclusion how many of the names could be Jewish, because the names could be German as well. If Jewish women were successful in the brothel business inside the Pale - the kind of business (a quite legal business, as it has already been said) which did not imply actual prostitution though always created a lot of problems with Police - then one may try to search for the explanation of the higher rate of Jewish women criminality in this direction. But there is no need to stick to the prostitution in these investigations, one may study the participation of Jewish women, for example, in the smuggling business as well.


© Bruno Martuzāns. 1995-2002