M O S C O W - M O S K V E
A Brief History of the Moscow Community
In 1827, the new military conscription policy, which for the first time included Jews in the Tsar's draft, had the unintended effect of creating Moscow's first permanent Jewish community. Jewish soldiers, garrisoned there for a 25-year term of service, settled down with their families, established houses of worship named after their regiments and founded their own cemetery. Theirs was a small community; in 1848 it numbered only 313 persons.
Jewish Moscow expanded and flourished during two subsequent periods: first, in the latter half of the 19th century, especially during the reign of Tsar Alexander II (1855 - 1881) when an estimated 40,000 Jews called the city home, and second, from the Russian Revolution of 1917 until the mid-1930s, by which time about a quarter of a million Jews lived in Moscow. The Zarayadye and Marina Rostcha neighborhoods had a predominantly Jewish population.
Many residents were evacuated in 1941 when German troops attempted (unsuccessfully) to take the capital; most returned at the end of WWII. By 1970, there were again around 250,000 Jews living in Moscow; while those numbers fell due to Jewish emigration from the former Soviet Union in the last decades of the 20th century, internal migration from the eastern provinces of the former Empire continues to keep the community's population relatively high: 53,145 citizens identified themselves as Jewish on the 2010 census.
Praisman, Leonid. "Moscow" YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe 3 September 2010. 15 May 2012.
Ro'i, Yaakov "Russia: Russian Federation" The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe.
For additional historic details and specific information about the military community, see "Moscow" in The Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906, online.
Map by John Murray, 1893 (Public Domain) Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin. Perry Castaneda Map Collection.
1855 - 1891 The Age of Reform
Many thousands of Jews applied for permission to live in the Russian interior when residence laws were relaxed during the reign of Tsar Alexander II. Historian Benjamin Nathans, in a new study of Jewish life "Beyond the Pale," provides a rough estimate of the size of this movement: in the year 1858, only 11,980 Jews (mostly soldiers), lived in the Russian heartland; in 1880, 59,779 were counted; by 1897 there were 314,000 Jews living legally outside the Pale of Settlement (2002).
Access to the desirable cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg was strictly limited. Beginning in 1859, Jewish merchants of the First Guild could request residence permits for themselves, their families, employees and servants; in 1861, permanent residence became possible for scholars with advanced degrees and currently-enrolled students; in 1865, guild-registered, "useful' artisans were also given the right to live outside the Pale, and many came to Moscow. The Jewish population of the city increased over the next decades to 8,000 in 1871, 16,000 in 1880 and about 40,000 in 1890. The flourishing community built synagogues, schools and charities, many located in the Zarayadye quarter on the Moskva River, between the red brick fortifications of the Kremlin and the gleaming white walls of the Foundling Hospital.
View of Moskva River, 1881- Foundling Hospital on the right
Sources and Further Reading
1891 - 1892 The Moscow Evictions