Zénaïde Alexeïevna Ragozin


Zénaïde Alexeïevna Ragozin

Russian Jews and Gentiles
Siegfried the hero of the North and Beowulf the hero of the Anglo-Saxons
The story of Chaldea from the earliest times to the rise of Assyria

Extract from Russian Jews and Gentiles

The question naturally arises: What is to be done? It is a momentous one, and might partly be answered by showing what ought not to be done—i.e., by a re-view of the legislative measures, hostile or propitiating, which have been tried in different countries and at various times, and have utterly failed, as well as of the causes why they failed. Brafmann's “Kahal” and his other book, “Hebrew Corporations, Local and Universal,” contain valuable material toward working out the problem; but it is not at the end of an already long paper that this fea-ture of the subject can be considered—a paper, too, of which the special object is only to vindicate the age in which we live from the odious imputation of “in-tolerance and religious persecution,” unthinkingly and indiscriminately brought against it. Yet the impression conveyed would be incomplete, nay, the entire tenor and drift of the paper might be misconstrued, without at least a hint at the solution which is desired and openly advocated by all enlightened Russians as represented by our liberal press. Briefly stated, it reads as follows:

The legal emancipation of the Jews, begun years ago by granting them the right of buying and holding land, of entering the universities, and various smaller concessions, must be completed. They must share both the rights and the duties of their Christian and Mohammedan fellow-subjects, without restraints or privileges. As the first step toward such a consummation, the Kahal must necessarily be abolished, or at all events shorn of its power—a thing very easily achieved by simply de-priving it of the right of levying box-duty on the slaughtering and sale of kòsher meat, and forbidding the sale of trèf to Christians. This would at once release the Jewish population from an intolerable pressure by delivering them from an irksome duty, and by depriving the town-councils of the means of enforcing their arbitrary separatistical ordi-nances by recourse to “the power of the goïm.” The taxes would then be collected from the Jews directly by Government officials, in the same manner as they are from all other subjects; they would be brought un-der the census, which they have always been able to elude until now,—and all this would place them in a direct and normal relation to the rul-ers of the land, without in the least interfering with the full exercise of their religious worship and national customs. Left to themselves and freed from all restraint with regard to their place of residence, the process of assimilation would soon begin, and the number of Jews who discard the Talmud and keep to the simple Mosaic law in its wider and more liberal application would annually increase. But if the Govern-ment, at this critical moment, recoils from this radical change, and con-tents itself with half-measures, denying its Hebrew subjects their full share of civil rights and at the same time upholding the artificial sepa-ratism so baleful in its effects, the same state of things will be still fur-ther perpetuated,—consequently, the causes being unchanged, the ef-fects will be identical, and the same deplorable scenes will be enacted from time to time,—scenes which every other European country has witnessed, and would see now, had not a wiser legislation made their recurrence impossible.

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