2 Numerus clausus against the Jews
How national policies wanted
quotas according to the population proportion - and the
Numerus clausus; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, vol. 12
presented by Michael Palomino (2007)
Numerus clausus against
Jews in Czarist Russia until 1917
Czarist Russia. During the first half of the 19th
century, the policy of the Russian government toward the
Jews, as formulated in the statutes concerning the Jews ("polozheniya") of 1804,
1835, and 1844, was to attract the Jewish youth to Russian
schools. This ambition encountered strong opposition from
the Jewish masses who regarded education in these schools as
a step toward the alienation of Jewish youth from its people
and its religion. They also viewed the network of Jewish
state schools established by the government to promote
general education among the Jews with suspicion. In 1853
there were 159 Jewish pupils in all the secondary schools of
Russia (1.3% of the total student roll), while in the
universities there were a few dozen. On the other hand, the
education in the Russian schools as a means of rapprochement
with the Russian people.
for educated Jews under czar Alexander II]
During the reign of Alexander II, a radical change occurred
in the attitude of the Jews, especially those of the middle
and upper classes, toward the Russian schools. This was due
to the privileges granted to educated Jews (extension of the
right of residence in 1865; important concessions with
regard to military service in 1874).
1880: Jews partly dominating the secondary schools and
entering the upper class]
In 1880 the number of Jewish pupils in the secondary schools
rose to 8,000 (11.5% of the total) and in the universities
to 556 (6.8% of the total). These numbers increased yearly.
In the educational region of Odessa (which included southern
Russia) the proportion of Jewish students rose to 35.2% and
in the region of Vilna (Lithuania) to 26.7%. A
Russian-Jewish stratum of intelligentsia concentrated in the
liberal professions - medicine, law, and journalism. The
members of these professions soon became aware of growing
competition from Jews.
A propaganda campaign was instigated against the admission
of Jews into the class of the intelligentsia; this was
sparked off in 1880 by a letter to the editor entitled Zhid Idyot ("The Jew is
Coming") which was published in the widely influential
newspaper Novoye Vremya.
numerus clausus in Russia - since 1887 official limits of
10%, 5%, 3%, and locally 0% - since 1905 also against
Of their own initiative, higher and secondary schools in
various parts of the country began to restrict the admission
of Jews within their precincts. This coincided with the
general policy of the government of Alexander III which
sought to prevent the admission of children of the poorer
classes into the higher and secondary schools. It was
claimed that the Jewish students introduced a spirit of
rebellion and revolution into the schools and thus had a
deleterious influence over their Christian fellow students.
In July 1887 the Ministry of Education decided that the
proportion of Jews in all secondary schools and higher
institutions subject to its jurisdiction was not to surpass
10% in the towns of the *Pale of Settlement, 5% in the towns
outside it, and only 3% in the capitals of St. Petersburg
and Moscow. Many schools were completely closed to Jews.
In time, this regulation also spread to schools which were
under the supervision of other government ministries
(ministry of communications, ministry of finance, etc.).
There were individual cases, after the Revolution of 1905,
where the restrictions and admission prohibitions were also
applied to converted Jews.
methods that their children can go to schools: Baptized
and converted families]
These restrictions were introduced during a period when
masses of Jewish youth were besieging the Russian schools,
and had severe repercussions on Jewish life. Only those who
had obtained the highest marks and distinctions were likely
to be admitted to Russian secondary and high schools. There
were naturally instances of bribery and corruption, or
parents who baptized their children so that they could (col.
enter the schools. Secondary school graduates began to
convert for this end, and during the years 1907 to 1914 this
became commonplace. The Lutheran clergyman Piro of Finland
became known for selling baptismal certificates at a low
price to all those who desired them ("pirovtsy"). The Jewish
national and Zionist movements fought this phenomenon. These
regulations also resulted in the emigration of thousands of
Jewish youths to study at the universities of Western Europe
(Switzerland, Germany, France, etc.).
Jewish students formed the majority of the "Russian"
colonies in the university towns of the West. In 1892 the
number of Jewish pupils in the secondary schools had
decreased to 5,394 (7% of the pupils). Jewish youths took
advantage of the possibility of completing their studies by
means of external examinations. In Jewish society, the
"extern" made his appearance, who studied under the guidance
of private teachers and then sat for the state examinations.
examiners let fail many Jews from their diploma - limits
to external students]
The anti-Semitic examiners were severe and failed many of
them. In 1911 it was decided that the numerus clausus would
also apply to external students, and since the number of
non-Jewish external students was very limited this system
was brought to an end.
1905: New numerus clausus with limits 15%, 10%, and 5% -
no numerus clausus for Jewish girls]
During the period of the Russian Revolution of 1905, when
autonomy was granted to the institutions of higher learning,
the numerus clausus was abolished, but immediately upon the
repression of the Revolution the practice was restored. The
proportion, however, was increased (to 15% in the Pale of
Settlement, 10% beyond it, and 5% in the capital cities).
Accordingly, the number of Jewish pupils in the secondary
schools rose to 17,538 (9.1% of the pupils), and of Jewish
students at the universities to 3,602 (9.4%).
In the overwhelming majority of secondary schools for girls,
the numerus clausus was not introduced. In 1911 about 35,000
Jewish girls studied at Russian secondary schools (13.5% of
the pupils). In the educational region of Vilna (Lithuania)
the proportion of Jewish girl pupils rose to 49%, in the
region of Warsaw to 42.7% and in the regions of Kiev and
Odessa to 33.3% (these four educational regions encompassed
the whole of the Pale of Settlement).
of a Jewish school system against the numerus clausus -
abolished numerus clausus since 1917]
The numerus clausus served as an impetus for the
establishment of private Jewish secondary schools, several
of which evolved the beginnings of a national Jewish
All restrictions on the admission of Jews to the secondary
schools and institutions of higher learning were abolished
with the Revolution of February 1917. In 1919, during the
brief period when the armies of *Denikin (the "White Army")
gained control of large regions of southern Russia, the
numerus clausus was temporarily reinstated in many towns
under their control.
[Y.S.]> (col. 1265)
-- Dubnow, Hist Russ, index
-- L. Greenberg: Jews in Russia: The Struggle for
-- S. Baron: Russian Jews under Tsars and Soviets (1964)
-- J. Kreppel: Juden und Judentum von heute (1925), para.
clausus, vol. 12, col. 1263-1264
clausus, vol. 12, col. 1265-1266