Dr. Yehudit Kalik – “Movable Inn,
Rural Jewish Population of Minsk Gubernya, 1795–1914”.
Dr. Judith Kalik’s research project into Village Jews has now been published under the prestigious De Gruyter label and is entitled, “Movable Inn, The Rural Jewish Population of Minsk Guberniya in 1793-1914” (Berlin, 2018).
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Village Jews, as against Shtetl Jews, were a significant segment of Jews living in the Russian Pale of Settlement (approximately 20-30% depending on time and place). Their colourful character has frequently been depicted in Polish, Russian and Yiddish literature, often stereotypically and nostalgically. However, they have been largely overlooked by serious historians, social scientists and genealogists.
Kalik’s study, sponsored and supported by IIJG, presents the results of a systematic survey, the first of its kind, on village or “rural” Jews in the Minsk Guberniya from its establishment within the Russian Empire in 1793 to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. On the basis of primary sources, mainly Russian, it documents and contextualises the life-style of these Jews in a representative region of the Pale. It focuses, among other things, on their demographic and geographic distribution, their legal situation, their relations with their lords and masters and the external environment, as well as their familial and occupational structures. It also provides detailed statistical tables of Village Jews living in every district of the Gubernya throughout the period under examination. As a result, it throws new light on a previously “invisible” but important section of East European Jewry.
For Jewish genealogists working on, and indeed descended from, Jews with village backgrounds, this pioneering study is essential.