Pale of Settlement

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Pale of Settlement


the part of the Russian empire in which Jews were permitted to reside on a permanent basis. It included the provinces of Bessarabia, Vil’na, Volyn’, Grodno, Ekaterinoslav, Kovno, Minsk, Mogilev, Podol’sk, Poltava, Tavrida, Kherson, Chernigov, and Kiev.

The pale of settlement was created in the late 18th century, when the Right-bank Ukraine, Byelorussia, and Lithuania—all with large Jewish populations—were ceded to Russia in the partitions of Poland. Only “local Jews” were permitted to live in Courland Province, the Caucasus, and Middle Asia. Within the pale of settlement, Jews were forbidden to live in the villages or in the cities of Kiev, Sevastopol’, and Yalta. Those permitted to live outside the pale were merchants of the first guild, persons with higher and specialized education, artisans, and soldiers fulfilling compulsory military service; the descendants of persons in these three categories were also authorized to live outside the pale.

For the Jews the pale of settlement was the most onerous burden resulting from their unequal status as a nation (natsiia, nation in the historical sense). The pale of settlement was abolished by the law of Mar. 20 (Apr. 2), 1917, On the Abolition of Religious and National Restrictions.


Gessen, Iu. I. Zakon i zhizn’: Kak sozidalis’ ogranichitel’nye zakony o zhitel’stve evreev v Rossii. St. Petersburg, 1911.
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In the 19th century, Birmingham became the magnet for people from further afield - in particular, from Cornwall, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Italy and the Jewish pale of settlement in the Russian Empire.

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