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brought him before the High Priest, and dealt with
him according to the law. Then the " Sanhedrin "
sent word unto the Rabbi, saying : " Though thou
livest far from the Holy City, in Nitchvin Armenia,
yet is thy net spread unto Jerusalem."

The Tsar would do well to remember that, whilst
he is defiling the homes of the Jews in Russia, the
net of the students whom he has driven to foreign
universities is being spread, and one day it may
reach even to the Tsarskoi Selo.

But let History record her own pages.



All over the world, in whatever country you meet
him, the Jew has one marked characteristic : he will
never perform manual labour unless he is absolutely
obliged to do so. His genius is for becoming rich
on the labour of others. It is this trait in his nature
that has made him unpopular with the rest of the
world. The Christian fanatic shades his head and
points to Calvary, and talks of the wrath of God
and vengeance. But the truth is simple. The Jew
has an aptitude for making money. Money is the
god of the civilised world. The civilised world objects
to any one making a corner in gods. The Jew makes
a corner in civilised gods. And, therefore, the world
hates the Jew.

But the genius of the Jew is not confined to be-
coming rich by using his brains whilst others use
their hands. If the world hates the Jew for his
money, she should not forget her debt to him for the
priceless treasures which he has conferred upon her
in literature, science, music, and art. Does the world
owe Israel nothing for such men as Philo, Aaron
ben Asher, Solomon Gabirol, Halevy, Mendelssohn,
Heine, Meyerbeer, Rubinstein, Joachim, and many
others ?


And if the sordid conglomeration of humanity that
calls itself the civilised world can see no merit in
such names as these, then I base my appeal to her
Christian charity on arguments more suited to her
understanding. And I ask, what better stewards
can you find for the wealth of nations, aye for their
honour too, than the Jews ? Does Britain owe
nothing to Lord Beaconsfield, Montefiore, or the
Rothschilds ? Can France repudiate her debt to
Fould, Gaudahaux, Oppert ; or Germany to Fiirst,
Steinschneider, Herxheimer, Lasker, Auerbach,
Traube, and Lazarus and Benfey !

But it is not with the Jews in the civilised world
that we are concerned at present. They can be
trusted to look after themselves, whilst we go back
to the Jew in Russia.

There, as in every other country, he is principally
engaged in commerce. The finest wholesale and
retail establishments in Russia are conducted by
Jews, in spite of the law that no Jew is allowed to
trade in any town, unless he was born there. This
rule is very strictly adhered to in large cities such as
St. Petersburg, Moscow, Odessa, &c.

There are Jews who nominally become Chris-
tians — that is to say, members of the Russian
Church — in order to enjoy greater facilities for
trading. This is one class of Jew which brings
discredit on the wliole race, and is utterly de-
spised by the Jewish community. Oppression and
persecution and death are bravely born and faced
by the Jews in Russia every day ; it is easy, there-
fore, to understand how bitterly they resent the


apostasy of any member of their community for the
sake of gain.

In certain businesses in Russia the Jew has a
monopoly. For instance, in Lodz, the great cloth
manufacturing town, nearly all the inhabitants, in-
cluding the mill-owners, are Jews. Some of them are
very rich. Their woollen stuffs are used extensively
throughout Kussia, and I believe they have an ex-
port trade as well. Hundreds of hands are employed
at these works, engineers, dyers, pattern-makers, &c.
No business is conducted on Saturdays — the Jewish
Sabbath — and the mills are closed. They have their
own hospitals and almshouses for the poor, supported
entirely by the Jewish community.

In other directions the Jew is equally enterprising
— in Russian leather, sail-cloths, cotton and linen
stuffs, plate glass and crystal, iron, copper, and
porcelain. In fact, he deals in everything under
the sun.

He may not eat the flesh of the pig, but he does a
large business in their bristles. There is a saying
amongst them : " The chazer is traif ; but his hair
is kosher " — the swine is unclean, but his hair is

There is no more charitable person than the
Jewish merchant. When he gives, he does it
quietly. There is no loud report, as of a tray of
crockery thrown from the housetop, such as heralds
the beneficence of so many people whom we know.
The Rabbi knows it possibly, for he is made the
medium of the transaction ; but no one else.

But all the Jewish traders in Russia are not


merchant princes. In the smaller towns the wife
attends to the business of the shop, whilst her
husband is in Beth Hamedrosh learning the Talmud.
She is proud to conduct his purely mundane affairs
for him, so that he may become a scholar, and she
takes credit to herself for half of his learning. The
study of the Talmud in Beth Hamedrosh (the outer
courts of the synagogue) is looked upon as a holy
occupation, and the student is regarded as a man
of distinction by the community. The very poor
Talmudical student is supported by his neighbours
during his researches. Even the old women may be
seen bringing to the Beth Hamedi^osh food for the
students within.

Then there is the Jew in Russia who has no shop
and no visible occupation, neither does he study the
Talmud in Beth Hamedrosh. But he is always to
be found where the feast is prepared. At a wedding,
he is first at the table to eat ; at a " Brith Millah,"
(circumcision) he is the first to arrive and the last
to leave the table. At the election of a Babbi,
or of the officers of the synagogue, his voice is heard
above all others ; and he lays down the law on the
question of the Babbi's salary. In the traktir
(restaurant) it is always the other fellow who pays
for the chicken and schnapps ; and even in the bath
he calls to his neighbour to throw the water on the
heated stone, that he may enjoy more warmth from
the steam without trouble to himself

What is his business ? He is the philanthropist
who is ready to assist his needy neighbours in their
financial difficulties, " on note of hand simply," and


on terms as advantageous to himself as he is able to
exact. He is more prompt and not more grasping
than his London prototype, and just as merciful.
The rate of interest that he charges is not so high,
for the simple reason that he cannot get it ; and he
has to be satisfied with a good deal less than 150
per cent.

But he draws the line as to whom he will lend his
money. The Russian aristocracy are not on his
books, though they should ofter 500 per cent. And
the reason is not far to seek. For Nicholas II.
is liberal with his ukases ; and it is always on the
cards that he may order the members of the aristo-
cracy to repudiate all debts to Jews that bear
interest at a higher rate than 2 J per cent. Such a
ukase breaks the heart of the Russian aristocrat,
who, of course, is anxious to pay his money back to
the poor Jew. But in the face of the ukase of the
Tsar, what can he do ?

So the Jew leaves the aristocracy alone, though
they seek him night and day for pecuniary assist-
ance. It is only when they oifer some valuables to
deposit as security that he will listen to them. On
gold and silver plate, jewellery or valuable furs, he
will advance them money ; but even then he demands
a document, signed before two witnesses and sworn
before a Notary Public, to certify that the valuables
are their own property.

But there was a worse pest than the usurer
among the Russian Jews, and that was the " Isborst-

He began his career under the Douma, before the


days of the Voinskaia Pavinost, when his principal
duties were those of the press-gang. He was re-
quired to produce Jewish soldiers for the service of
the Tsar, and he stuck at nothing to obtain recruits.
His other duties were connected with the passport
system. His business was to go from house to house
once or twice a year and levy taxes on the passports
of all who lived in his syezd (county). He was a
blood-sucker of the worst description. When he
entered a house his eyes would travel rapidly round
the room, as though he were appraising the value
of the furniture. Then he looked to the condition
of the owner and his family, whether they appeared
prosperous and well clothed. And when he had
finished his inspection, he would sit down uninvited
and begin to talk.

" You see, Mr. Mosche, your passport has only a
few weeks to run ; and this year I find that your
home is of richer aspect then it used to be. Your
wife has a new dress, and it is not jountev (holiday)
yet. Last year, you may remember, you paid for your
passport only eighteen roubles. But this year you
will have to pay thirty roubles ; you know I am very
reasonable in taxing you to that amount — eh ? It
is not as though I received all the money myself"

And the poor devil was obliged to pay thirty
roubles or quit the place where he made his living.

The Isborstchik lost his official rank and position
many years ago ; nevertheless, he still finds employ-
ment in a nefarious trade. He is now the middle-
man in the illicit passport trade, and is employed
both by the Meschanskaia Upi^ava and by the


Starosta to obtain money from people who are in need
of passports to which they are not legally entitled.

But it is not for me to abuse the Ishorstchik ; the
poor fellow only pockets a small portion of the
money he receives from his customers, the greater
part going into the pockets of the Meschanskaia
Uprava, and there was once an occasion when I had
reason to be thankful for his services.



The daughters of the Jews in Russia are brought up
to work, and the idle girl is almost unknown. If
the parents can afford it she is educated at home ;
but in the case of the very poor the girls are sent to
the " Chedar " to be educated. At the age of nine
or ten years she is able to read and write Hebrew
and Russian. She is then taught housekeeping
and cooking ; and the care of the younger members
of the family devolves upon her.

At fifteen years of age she is already a little
housekeeper, and is also earning a trifle for herself
by sewing, or making gloves for some shop in the
town at so much a dozen pairs. Others live by
dressmaking or carpet-weaving. In various callings
they find occupation until the day comes for them to
be married.

That important day arrives for nearly all of them.
I do not think that I met ten old maids among the
Jewesses in Russia. The majority of the girls are
married between the ages of nineteen and twenty -
one. And it is a sore grief to the mother who has
an unmarried daughter on her hands over the age of

A singular feature in Jewish marriages, more


especially in Kussia, is the employment of the
" Shatchen." He is to be found in every town in
Russia, and his business is to bring together suitable
couples for matrimonial purposes. The introduction
generally takes place in the house of the girl's
parents, whither the " Shatchen " has brought the
young man on approval. For the first visit he is
their guest, and nothing more. But when he leaves
the house the " Shatchen " remains behind and
confers with the parents, and if everything is satis-
factory the engagement is made between them,
without reference to the inclinations of the prospec-
tive bride, unless, indeed, she happens to be a
young lady of decided views.

For years the parents have been saving up money
against this day. For in accordance with the
"nadan," with which they are enabled to endow
their daughter, will the status and wealth of her
husband be. If she is to marry a tailor or boot-
maker, she must be endowed with about 200 roubles.
If a clerk in a shop, 400 roubles. A goldsmith or
watchmaker will expect his bride to come to him
with 600 roubles. Whilst a well-favoured young
man, with a knowledge of the Mishna and Talmud,
and a good pedigree, will stipulate for 2000 roubles,
And so on up the social and financial scale to tens
and hundreds of thousands of roubles.

Reb Yankel, the prosperous young leather
merchant, goes to the "Shatchen" and places himself
matrimonially in his hands. He tells him that his
shop and stock are worth 20,000 roubles, and that
he expects his wife to bring him that amount.


The "Sliatchen" makes a note of it, and veriiies lleb
Yankel's statement. It Is a good commission, and
he Is prepared to travel a thousand miles In search
of a rich bride for him.

It is obvious that the " Shatchen " must be a man
of great tact and business capacity. As a rule, he is a
man of fifty or more, with a long, patriarchal beard
and corkscrew "pales" curled over his ears. He wears
a long double-breasted coat and a " kapeluch " on his
head. He is a man of learning, with a fund of small
talk and good stories. He Is soft of speech, and
when he Is talking his hands join in the conversa-
tion, gesticulating wildly In unison with his words.
He has always an eye to business, and knows the
names and probable "nadan" of every girl In the town.
And In his pocket-book Is noted down the names of
the marriageable young men, with their prices In
secret figures against them.

He keeps up a general correspondence with the
" Shatchens " in neighbouring towns, with a view to
mutual accommodation. " I have a young man of
the value of 50,000 roubles," he writes to his confrere,
" but I will take 40,000 In cash or 20,000 on engage-
ment, 10,000 on the day of the wedding, and two
' vekcels' (promissory notes) of 10,000 each payable
in two years."

If matches are made in heaven, It follows that the
" Shatchen," among the Jews In Kussia, is the direct
representative of heaven, and a very important
personage in the community. His lot is, as a rule,
a happy one ; but he sometimes has his troubles,
poor man.


I was once a witness to a lamentable miscarriage
of his arrangements. It was in the town of
Chernigov. I had been invited to a Jewish wedding
which was to take place in the courtyard of the
bride's house, and I went. The guests were all
assembled and the Rabbi and his assistants were
ready to proceed with the ceremony according to the
rites of Israel. The canopy, with its four decorated
posts, supported by members of the family, was in
the middle of the courtyard. And beneath the
canopy the bridegroom stood, waiting for his bride
to make the seven circuits of the canopy before she
joined him beneath it.

I was standing close to the bridegroom, when the
bride, leaning on the arm of her bridesmaid, began
to walk round the canopy. She had completed the
seven solemn circles, and was about to enter, when
the bridegroom suddenly came from under the
canopy and demanded to see the bride's father.
The old man, with anxious looks, hurried up to
him, and I could overhear a hasty conversation
about 200 roubles.

It seems that the bridegroom had received 800
roubles three days before the wedding, and the girl's
father had promised to pay the balance of 200
roubles on the wedding-day. Through some un-
foreseen circumstances he had been unable to obtain
the ready money by the appointed day, and he now
offered the bridegroom a note of hand for the amount.
But the bridegroom was firm as a rock, and refused
to allow the ceremony to proceed until he had been
paid those 200 roubles in cash.


Among the assembled guests there was some con-
fusion and an undercurrent of whispered questions.
What did it mean ? Why was the ceremony
interrupted ? The bride herself stood still before
the canopy leaning on her bridesmaid's arm. Her
head was bowed, and through the veil which she
wore I could see her cheeks burning with shame
and indignation. It was evident that she guessed
at the cause of the interruption of the ceremony.

At last the Rabbi walked beneath the canopy and
addressed the recalcitrant bridegroom in clear words
that all could hear : " My son, you have received
800 roubles from the father of the bride, and you
were promised 200 roubles more to-day. I under-
stand that ready money is not available to-day ;
but the bride's father is willing to give you a vekcel
for the amount."

He paused ; but the bridegroom made no sign.

" And even if a vekcel should not be forthcoming,"
he continued in suave tones, "let it be worth 200
roubles to you that your bride has walked around
this canopy seven times."

" That is nothing to me," said the bridegroom

He had hardly uttered the words, when the bride
tore the veil from her head and confronted the
assembled guests with flashing eyes.

" Never ! " she cried, " never would I marry that
man. No, not for a 1,000,000 roubles ! "

And she turned and walked straight into the

A murmur of approval ran through the assembly.


For myself, I confess, my fingers were itching to
give the bridegroom a sound thrashing. The out-
come of it all was, that the bridegroom had to return
the 800 roubles which he had received to the bride's
father. The only loser by the transaction was the
unfortunate " Shatchen," who experienced to the full
the truth of the proverb : '* There is many a slip
'twixt cup and the lip."

Like any other professional men, there are "Shat-
chens " and *' Shatchens." Some will not touch a
match under 5000 roubles ; whilst others are
dependent for their business on 50 and 100 rouble
couples. It is a remarkable fact that the marriages
arranged by the " Shatchens," among the Jews in
Russia, are almost invariably successful. Divorces
are extremely rare, and marriage scandals of all
kinds are seldom heard of. If any trouble arises
between husband and wife it is generally referred
to the Kabbi, who, with a great deal of tact and
forbearance smooths over all unpleasantnesses.

The Rabbi in Israel is indeed a marvellous person.
How much simpler it would be if, in the great
civilised world, where we mistrust and hate our
neighbour and attribute the basest of motives to his
every act, even to his acts of charity ; where we fly
at each other's throats armed with the talons of the
law in defence of what we are pleased to call our
rights, but which is, in fact, only our self-interest ;
where we wallow in the squalor of the divorce court
and hang out our shame on the clothes-lines of
public opinion — how much simpler it would be if
we could have our Rabbis, learned, simple-minded,


disinterested, to whom we could bring our troubles
and our wrongs, and rest assured that they would
right them.

I can see the sleek -faced parson volunteering for
the post with the confidence of self-righteousness
and the assurance of his high calling. But no, my
friend ! You can never don the breeches of the
Kabbi. You have studied your Bible and you have
dabbled in Hebrew, but you know nothing of the
Law — the true Law. In this particular the Rabbi
of Israel is as well grounded as the Lord Chief
Justice of England, and a great deal better than the
Supreme Court judges of the United States.

I once knew a Jew in Vilna who went into partner-
ship with a Christian Pole in the "old clo'" line.
After a time the Pole took it into his head that his
Hebrew partner was not acting squarely by him.
There was some trouble over a consignment of
second-hand clothes and the market quotation for
rags. Words ensued, but neither would give
way. Suddenly a happy thought struck the Pole.
Pudjim do Rabhinovo ! he shouted (" Come to the
Kabbi ! ").



When the " Shatchen " has completed his work
successfully and the young Jewess has become a
married woman, there is no question in her mind as
to where her duty lies. From that day forward her
husband is all in all to her.

The enlightened and very young lady of the
Western world will exclaim : " Oh, but that is im-
possible ! She could not really love a man whom
she had married under such conditions."

Go back to your bread and butter, little miss. I
never said that she does love him. If you had been
brought up with a strict sense of duty — a very strict
sense of duty, as the young Jewish girl is brought
up, you would understand that a husband may be
all in all to his wife, and she may be all in all to her
husband, without any unnecessary and evanescent
sentiment. Remember, too, that when you even-
tually come to be married yourself you will be
handed over to the highest bidder, and your mother
will tell you how much you love him before you
discover it yourself.

It may be that the Jewish girl has no heart, as the
six-shilling novel reckons heart ; it may be that
she has no love for her husband, as the schoolgirl


understands love. I will grant it. I have not set
out to write a treatise on the psychology of sex ; but
to record facts as I found them in Russia. And since
I have lived for more than a year in the house ol
a poor Jewish bootmaker and his wife in Kazan, I
can give some sort of notion of their mode of life.

Rubinski was a powerful young man, who made
boots of all sizes. These were mostly long boots,
such as are worn by all Russians, reaching to the
knee and wrinkled above the ankle. He generally
had eight or ten pairs made up, and twice a week
he used to take them to the market-place to sell.
He had a stand in the market, for which he paid
a fee of fifteen kopeks daily, and sometimes more.
On market days he would be at his stand from eight
in the morning until five in the evening. His wife
used to take his dinner up to him at the market at
noon, and wait until he had finished, so that she
could bring back the cloth and platter. Whilst she
was waiting, she would look at the boots dangling
from the cross-bar above the stall and count them,
to see how many pairs her husband had sold. Then
she would wonder what price he had received for
the pairs that were gone. That is a very material
question in Russian trade, where the price varies
according to the astuteness of buyer and seller.

She knows that the boots cost her husband in
material alone two roubles and seventy-five kopeks ;
then there is his labour. It takes him two days at
sixteen hours a day to make a pair. She does not
trouble to work out in her head how much he should
receive per hour for his work'; she does not even know


the meaning of the terms, "trade union" and "living
wage." She only hopes that he has sold them well.

Rubinski is all smiles when he has made a good
bargain. He tells her that he has made seven
roubles for two days work. But he is less com-
municative if he has made only a rouble or so on the
transaction. He has his own scale of charges for
his goods. From the farmer he will ask seven
roubles ; from the " swell " fifteen. The asking is
easy enough, what troubles the poor sapojnik (boot-
maker) is getting what he asks.

Now Chaja, his wife, counts the boots, and notices
that there are only six pairs left. Rubinski took
ten pairs with him in the morning. Therefore he
must have sold four pairs. He has said nothing to
her about the price, and she is longing to know
how much he received for his eight days work. But
her husband does not tell her, and she will not ask.
There is a great moral lesson even in four pairs of

But Rubinski and his wife have secured me as a
lodger, so they have no anxiety for the rent of their
house. They have four rooms, and I have taken
two of them, and for them and attendance I pay the
whole rent of the house. It is an arrangement
which contents both parties. I am learning the
Yiddish jargon from Rubinski, and in the evenings,
when he comes home, he sits and works at his
boots, Chaja sits near him knitting stockings and
socks, whilst I, with my pipe in my mouth, ask
questions of them both.

From watching Rubinski I learn a thing or two


about boot-making, and notice that he puts a good
deal of wood under the soles. When his mouth is
not full of little nails he talks to me, and answers
my many questions, without ceasing his boot-
making. Sometimes I volunteer to act as his appren-
tice. I take the sole leather from the water where
It has been soaking ; I bind up the wrinkles in the

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Online LibraryCarl JoubertRussia as it really is → online text (page 7 of 18)