Rules for Jews in Russia Empire.
The Page concerning military matters contains a review of special rules for Jews in the Army.
The Laws of the Inorodci /Svod vol.9/ declared that the Jews in their places of settlement enjoyed the same rights as the other subjects of the same estate, but in the next phrase it was added that excluding the cases stated in the Laws.
Paradoxically, but after 1905, when a kind of Parliament (Duma) was organized in the Empire, the Jews could elect for and be elected in the Parliament, though they still could not participate in the elections of municipal councils. The following Jews were elected from Kurzeme [Kurland] in the different convocations of the Parliament: N.Kacenelsons (Katzenelson), J.Šapiro (Shapiro), L.Niselovičs (Nisselovitch), I.Gurevičs (Gurevich). More about the deputies you may read in an Internet source of S.Lipschitz.
Jews could be elected to positions in estate communities, but they might not occupy more than one third of the positions that existed in a community. The election to these positions was separate for Jews and Christians i.e. the Jews voted for the Jewish and the Christians for the Christian candidates.
law of labor
In 1864 the courts were reorganized, and the job of sworn attorney became very important and demanded. A sworn attorney corresponded to a barrister of the British court system, and he was allowed to undertake the public trial of cases in a court. Relatively many Jews educated themselves for this profession, but in 1889 Jews (more precisely - non-Christians) were prohibited from this job, formally they could become sworn attorneys with permission of the Minister of Justice, but during 16 years until 1905 no Jew was allowed to join this profession /Solzhenicin/. Those who to 1889 had already reached this position were not kicked out, however. The Jews with juridical education now could become only assistants of sworn attorneys what corresponded to solicitors of the British system - they prepared cases for barristers to try. In the real life of the Empire the assistants of the sworn attorneys also participated in trials. The editor and the publisher of the book /Svod, vol.9/ I here referenced to many times was a sworn attorney A.M.Ņurenberg (may be Nürenberg in German or Nirenbergs in Latvian). He was a Jew, I judge from the name, but maybe a converted one, I know nothing more of him.
The Criminal Code comprised several sections with offenses against religions and against relationships among religions - illegal conversion, illegal cross-religious marriages etc. The Code divided all of the legally accepted religious confessions of the Empire into three groups - a) the Russian Orthodox (the state religion), b) other Christian religions and c) non-Christian religions. The Jews belonged to non-Christians, of course, but in this part of the Code the word Jews was not found, though there were several crimes that only a person belonging to a non-Christian religion could commit. The relationship among various religions defined in the legislation deserve to be discussed in more details, which I have planned to do.
I worked with two quite different editions of the criminal law - 1885 and 1903. The edition of 1885 was also in force in the previous period since 1875. I found that this Code explicitly mentioned Jews in the following cases:
a) sec.302. Nobody, except either those Rabbis, who were
accepted by the Empire officials, or their assistants, was allowed to
conduct Jewish religious rites listed in the Law on foreign religions.
At that time (since 1855) so called state Rabbis existed who were elected
by the Jewish community and were later accepted by the governor of the
local province. The state Rabbis conducted circumcisions, marriages, divorces,
burials and perhaps other religious rites, and only they could keep the
civil records of the Jewish population, because their educational level
gave them possibility of doing it in Hebrew and Russian. At the same time
non-state Rabbis also existed, and it is quite clear that this section
of the Code was aimed against them.
b) sec. 530. A Jew, who either had given shelter even for the shortest
time to another Jew, who had been deserted from the Army, or had helped him to desert, was
jailed in labor arrest premises for 1-1.5 years. Additionally, the Jewish community, where
this offense occurred, was fined not more than 300 Roubles for each runaway, if this
community had not discovered the crime and had not informed the officials.
c) sec. 758. Peasants, as well as Jews and the people with
the rights of honorary citizens, if they within a border region had supported
smugglers in their violence, though actually had not taken part in this
violence case, should have been considered as the accomplices of this
d) sec. 1053. The Rabbis, who were not fulfilling their duties on
supervising the private education of Jewish children, for the first time should have been
fined by not more than 75 Roubles but for the second time the punishment was the following
- the fine not more than 150 Roubles, the discharge and the ban for ever to be a Rabbi (a
crown Rabbi, of course).
e) sec. 1055, 1056, 1057. These three sections dealt with Jews in the
agriculture settlements. The Empire officials were busy with the creating of Jewish
agricultural settlements during almost all the 19th century. In spite of some
facilitation for the settlers and of punishment of those settlers who were not eager to
become peasants, the idea of Jewish agriculture settlements failed. These settlements did
not exist in the region of Latvia, though relatively many Jews from Kurzeme [Kurland] went
to the regions of settlements. For this reason I discuss these sections of the Code in
f) sec. 1171. The Jews, who outside the area allowed for their settlement
(Pale) took part in any type of commerce without appropriate legally defined permission,
should have been subject both to the confiscation of the goods and to the immediate
expelling out of the location.
g) sec. 1445. This section dealt with punishment of persons
responsible for the accurate keeping of civil records. The Criminal Code
held responsible for errors in Jewish civil records not only the Rabbi
and his assistant but also each member of the board of prayers. Each of
these persons were fined with 15 Roubles, if they had left out of registers
a man, and 7.50 Roubles, if they had omitted a woman. If this had happened
deliberately or for mercenary motives, they could have been accused of
the forgery of civil servants and the offender could have been exiled
In general the Criminal Code of 1903 contained fewer criminally prosecuted deeds and the punitive sanctions were lighter.
a) sect. 291. The person, who had not obeyed the rules set for the
education of Jewish youth, for the first time should have been fined by not more than 100
Roubles and for the next time could have been imprisoned for the term not more than 6
b) sect. 335. This section dealt with the individuals who violated the
rules of trading and namely were busy in trade, in spite that they were not allowed to
carry out the particular kind of commerce in the region. For this offense they were fined
by up to 500 Roubles, but if they had signed a declaration that they had no impediments to
the particular business, then they were arrested for not more than 6 months.
c) sec. 422. The Jews who willfully had changed their names or surnames
were fined by not more than 300 Roubles.
In spite of the fact that S.Maksimov lived in the Empire, visited punitive institutions and investigated exiled persons in Siberia, I can not agree with him that the above mentioned regulations were initiated by the need to increase the share of women in Siberia or, in any case, not only by this need. According to the same author, the exiled Jews were quite active in the commerce throughout Siberia, and one can suppose that the husband of an exiled Jewish woman could set up a successful business and compete with local merchants, making the introduction of the Pale of settlement rather senseless. In general, the commercially active Jews of Siberia were exiles or former convicts, but free people, like the husband of an exiled woman, could start a business immediately. The Jewish boys if moved to Siberia could easier slip out of kanton schools, because there were no Jewish communities in Siberia which could recruit them. The sons of exiled Jews born in the exile were to be moved back to the Pale, when they became 16, if they could not find legal grounds to stay outside the Pale. In 1853 a Law was enacted that this resettlement could be done on the expense of the state. The boys were sent using the system for arrested persons, and they received 3.5 Kopecks daily for subsistence, though the Jewish fathers were allowed to move their sons to the Pale by their own expenses and, if they wished, before the age of 16 /Svod Prodolzhenije/
To tell the truth, I do not think that a lot of Jewish women committed crimes that were sentenced to the exile, but evidently it could happen. Probably the most popular crime among these women was the smuggling. Just for your information - the criminal statistics for Kurzeme [Kurland] province /SJGK1863/ say that in 1862 only 2 persons were exiled to Siberia, which is not very many, of course. 6 persons were exiled to other remote places of the Empire, however. I do not know how many of the exiled were Jews. The statistics say only /SJGK1863/ that a total of 20 Jews were criminally convicted in 1862 in Kurzeme province (their total number there was more than 28,500). The total number of exiled persons in the whole Empire was about 6-8 thousand per year in these years, by the way.
© Bruno Martuzāns. 1995-2002