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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: August 2014



Pale of Settlement refers to the area in the Russian Empire in which Jews were permitted to settle. This large swath of western *Russia, constituting just under 500,000 square miles, was officially called cherta postoiannogo zhitel'stava evreev. (The term “Pale” [an enclosure] was drawn from its use in depicting nineteenth-century Irish conditions.) The Russian Pale included fifteen provinces that were consolidated in imperial statutes from 1804 to 1835; these were subject to intermittent alterations until the Pale's effective abolition in 1915 and official dissolution with the Russian Revolution in February 1917. Jews made up some 12% of the population of the Pale; in many urban areas, especially in northern provinces in *Lithuania and *Belorussia, they made up the majority. Map 11

The Pale originated in 1792 after the first partition of *Poland in 1772. Merchants wary of competition and alleged Jewish economic mendacity protested the influx of Jews from Belorussia into Russia. Such sentiments had a continuing influence on the ongoing existence of the Pale; Russian officials who occasionally considered its abolition were persuaded that Jews would have a disruptive economic impact if permitted to settle more freely. The Pale restricted Jewish residence, roughly speaking, to those areas where they had lived before the Polish partitions (1772, 1793, 1795).

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