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Pale of Settlement

[Russian, cherta osedlosti] - A region where Jews were allowed to live designated by the tsarist government in the Western guberniias of the Russian Empire.

After the second and third partitions of Poland, when most of the Polish Jews found themselves in the Russian partition, the first ukazy were issued resulting in the creation of a separate zone for them. They were forbidden from moving from one place to another, and from settling in cities within Russia proper; Jews also began to be forced out of the countryside.


After the Napoleonic wars, Tsar Alexander I, after a brief period when restrictions were less severe, made the Pale of Settlement smaller. A ban was also introduced on Jews living along the western border in a swath 50 versts wide. The borders of this zone were defined in 1836, and included the guberniias of Volhynia, Grodno, Wilno, Podole, Minsk, Ekaterinoslav and Bessarabia, the Kiev province (without Kiev), Kherson (without Nikolaev), Taurida (without Sevastopol), Mohyl and Vitebsk (without its rural settlements), some of Chernihov and Poltava.
Further restrictions on Jews' freedom of residence were imposed in 1882, when Tsar Alexander III established the May Laws, on the basis of which it was decided to expel Jews from the cities of Russia proper and from the countryside of the Pale of Settlement. The resettlement program affected a total of approximately one million people. The Pale of Settlement continued to exist until the Russian Revolution.
(G.Z./CM)

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