The Pale of Settlement

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The Pale of Settlement was a term used by the Russian Empire. It meant the borders in which permanent residency by Jews was allowed (from 1791 to 1917). Beyond these places, Jewish residency, permanent or temporary,[1] was mostly forbidden.

The old English term pale is got from the Latin word palus, a stake, and so extended to mean the area enclosed by a fence or boundary.[2]

The Pale of Settlement included all of modern Belarus, Lithuania and Moldova, much of Ukraine and Poland, and small parts of Latvia and the western Russian Federation.

It extended from the eastern pale, or demarcation line inside the country, westwards to the Imperial Russian border with the Kingdom of Prussia (later the German Empire) and Austria-Hungary. It was about 20% of European Russia.

Historians argue that the motivations for its creation and maintenance were primarily economic and nationalist in nature.

The end of the enforcement and formal demarcation of the Pale coincided with the beginning of World War I in 1914 and then ultimately, the fall of the Russian Empire in the February and October Revolutions of 1917.

The religious nature of the edicts creating the Pale is clear: conversion to Russian Orthodoxy, the state religion, released people from the restrictions. Historians argue that the motivations for its creation were mainly economic and nationalist in nature.

Terrible anti-Jewish pogroms occurred from 1881 to 1883 and from 1903 to 1906. The Jewish community responded by organising a welfare system.[3][4]

Effect on marriages[change | change source]

One consequence of the Pale was a tendency to restrict marriage by Jews. But not just to other Jews, often in practice to those who attended the same or nearby synagogues.

The effects were similar to those of the Royal Families of Europe. They eventually showed the genetic effects of inbreeding, even though the marriages were legal and in other ways quite appropriate. Just as with European royalty, the jewish communities behind the Pale restricted the choice of marriage partners.

Now today in normal life, those groups show a higher percentage of deleterious genetic defects than the wider population. This is because the parents were, unknowingly, to some extent consanguineous (related).[5][6][7]

References[change | change source]

  1. Черта оседлости. КЕЭ, том 9, кол. 1188–1198
  2. "pale, n.1." OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2016. Retrieved October 24, 2016.
  3. Spiro, Rabbi Ken. History Crash Course #56: Pale of Settlement. aishcom.
  4. Beyond the Pale: life in the Pale of Settlement. [1]
  5. Kamin, Leon J 1980. Inbreeding depression and IQ. Psychological Bulletin 87 (3): 469–478. [2]
  6. Woodley, Michael A 2009. Inbreeding depression and IQ in a study of 72 countries. Intelligence 37 (3): 268–276. [3]
  7. Speicher M.R; Motulsky A.G; Antonarakis S.E; & Bittles A.H. eds. 2010. Consanguinity, genetic drift, and genetic diseases in populations with reduced numbers of founders. Vogel and Motulsky's human genetics problems and approaches (4th ed). Berlin: Springer-Verlag. pp. 507–528. ISBN 978-3-540-37654-5.