||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
In this Page only the Educational Pale is discussed.
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
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
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
- 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
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.