THE JEWS IN RUSSIA
[The World, New York, September 25, 1877]
It is to be regretted that your incandescent contemporary, The Sun, should have no better sources of information. It stated on Saturday last that “in Russia the persecution of the Israelites is continued, with nearly all its ancient cruelty. They are not permitted to reside in many of the greatest cities. Kief and Novgorod, as well as Moscow, are forbidden to them, and even in the rural districts they are burdened with multiform exactions.”
This is the reverse of correct, as is the further statement that “they have been robbed and oppressed in Bulgaria by the Russians.” The murdering and plundering at the seat of war, it is now pretty well settled, has been done by the Turks exclusively, and, notwithstanding that the English and other Turkophile organs have diligently cast the blame upon the Russians, the plot of the Ottoman Government, thanks to the honest old Emperor of Germany, is now discovered. The Turks are convicted of systematic lying, and nearly every country, including England herself, has sent its protest to the Sublime Porte against her atrocities. As to the condition of Israelites in Russia, it has immensely improved since the accession of Alexander II to the throne of his father. For more than ten years they have been placed on jury duty, admitted to the bar and otherwise accorded civil rights and privileges. If social disabilities still linger, we are scarcely the ones to chide, in view of our Saratoga and Long Branch custom, and the recent little unpleasantness between Mr. Hilton and the descendants of the “chosen people.”
If your neighbor would take the trouble to ask any traveller or Russian Israelite now in America it would learn that Kief, as well as other “greatest cities” are full of Jews; that in fact there are more Jews than Gentiles in the first named of those cities. Pretty much all trade is in their
hands, and they furnish even all the olive oil that is permanently burnt at the rakas (shrines) of the 700 orthodox saints whose beatified mummies fill up the Catacombs of Kief, and the wax for the candles on all the altars; and it is again the Jews who keep the dram-shops, or kabak, where the faithful congregate after service to give a last filip to their devotional ardor. It is barely four months since the chief Rabbi of Moscow published in the official Vedomosty an earnest address to his co-religionists throughout the empire to remind them that they were Russians by nativity, and called upon them to display their patriotism in subscriptions for the wounded, prayers in the synagogues for the success of the Russian arms and all other practical ways. In 1870, during the émeute in Odessa, which was caused by some Jewish children throwing dirt into the church on Easter night, and which lasted more than a week, the Russian soldiers shot and bayonetted twelve Christian Russians and not a single Jew; while—and I speak as an eyewitness — over two hundred rioters were publicly whipped by order of the Governor-General, Kotzebue,* of whom none were Israelites. That there is a hatred between them and the more fanatical Christians is true, but the Russian Government can be no more blamed for this than the British and American Governments because Orangemen and Catholics mutually hate, beat, and occasionally kill each other.
H. P. BLAVATSKY.
New York, September 24th.
* [Count Paul Kotzebue, Governor-General of Odessa and later of Warsaw.—Compiler.]