Jewish City or Inferno of Russian Israel? A History of the Jews in Kiev before February 1917

Jewish City or Inferno of Russian Israel? A History of the Jews in Kiev before February 1917


Victoria Khiterer

Series: Jews of Russia and Eastern Europe and Their Legacy
ISBN: 9781618114761 (hardcover)
Pages: 492 pp.; 33 illus; 3 maps
Publication Date: March 2016

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This book describes the history of Jews in Kiev from the tenth century to the February 1917 Revolution. At the turn of the twentieth century, the Kiev Jewish community was one of the largest and wealthiest in the Russian Empire. This book illuminates the major processes and events in Kievan Jewish history, including the creation of the Jewish community, the expulsions of Jews from the city, government persecution and Jewish pogroms, the Beilis Affair, the participation of Jews in the political, economic, and cultural life of Kiev, and their contribution to the development of the city.

Victoria Khiterer is an Associate Professor of History and the Director of the Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide at Millersville University, PA. She is the author and editor of five books and over eighty articles in Russian and Eastern European Jewish History.

Table of Contents

A Note on Dates, Spelling, and Names
List of Tables
List of Illustrations
List of Maps

Chapter One. The History of Jews in Kiev from the Tenth Century to 1660
Chapter Two. The Jews of Kiev in the Embrace of the Russian Empire (1794–1859)
Chapter Three. The Jewish Right of Residence in Kiev in 1859–1917
Chapter Four. The Kiev Jewish Community and its Leaders
Chapter Five. The Wealth and Poverty of Jews in Kiev
Chapter Six. Jewish Pogroms and the Beilis Affair
Chapter Seven. How Jews Gained Their Education in Kiev
Chapter Eight. Jewish Culture in Kiev
Chapter Nine. Between Tradition and Modernity: Jewish Religious Life in Kiev
Appendix. Dmitrii Bogrov and the Assassination of Stolypin


In this model of professional and careful research and analysis, Khiterer weaves the threads of a fascinating historical tapestry of one of czarist Russia’s largest communities in the traditional seat of Russian Orthodox Christianity.
— R. M. Shapiro (Brooklyn College), CHOICE (January 2017 Vol. 54 No. 5)
Kiev, the crown jewel of Russian Christendom, was the unexpected home of a vibrant, deep-rooted, but vulnerable Jewish community. While other scholars hone in on pogroms and anti-Semitism, Professor Khiterer expands the horizon. She tells us about Jewish social life, economics, politics, education, culture and religion. This powerful monograph gives the reader the Jewish world of Kiev with panoramic thoroughness. It will be the authoritative text for decades.
— Brian Horowitz, Sizeler Family Chair of Jewish Studies, Tulane University
Kiev lay in the heart of the Jewish Pale of Settlement but until the revolution of February 1917 only restricted numbers of privileged Jews had the legal right to settle there. Nevertheless, the town also became a magnet for the impoverished Jewish masses seeking to escape the poverty of shtetl life. This compelling and well-researched monograph highlights the dual character of the town for its Jewish inhabitants—on the one hand the home of a well-established and culturally productive Jewish community, on the other the scene of constant persecution and expulsion. It is essential reading for all those interested in the evolution of Jewish life in the Tsarist Empire and in the modern world.
— Antony Polonsky, Emeritus Professor of Holocaust Studies, Brandeis University; Chief Historian, Museum of Polish Jews in Warsaw
Such cities as Warsaw, Vilna, St. Petersburg, and Odessa usually eclipse Kiev in the Russian Jewish historical narrative. This is wrong and not fair given the significance of Kiev as a trendsetting center in Jewish cultural and political life. Victoria Khiterer’s descriptive and analytical panorama of pre-1917 Jewish Kiev helps place it into the league it belongs to.
— Gennady Estraikh, Clinical Professor in Hebrew and Judaic Studies, New York University
An indefatigable researcher, Victoria Khiterer has written the first comprehensive history of Jews in Kiev, one of the most important cities in the Russian Empire and its successor states. Her deep knowledge of the secondary literature in several languages and original research in the archives over many years have made for a riveting and important book on the long, complex history of Jews in the Ukrainian capital. Khiterer covers culture, economics, education, the press, theater, music, religious life and its politics, and the always fraught relationship between Jews and the tsarist government. This book, a major work, will be required reading for scholars, students and anyone interested in Jewish history.
— Zvi Gitelman, Professor of Political Science and Preston R. Tisch Professor of Judaic Studies, University of Michigan