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The Polish Jews are the distillers, cattle-breeders, farmers, market-gardeners, middle-men, bankers, merchants, millowners, interpreters, spies of the state; and whatever is bought or sold passes through their hands. But notwithstanding the advantage accruing to Russia from the industry and energy of her Hebrew subjects, she treats them in the most merciless

In no other province of Europe can the. oppressed Jew more truthfully confess that he has a “trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind,” and that his life hangs in doubt before him, and that he finds no ease, neither does the sole of his foot have rest, than in the Russian portion of conquered and despoiled Poland. Cruel, relentless contempt is the only sympathy he meets with in his journey from the cradle to the grave; and fines, forfeitures, and tyrannical taxes are ever making their despotic demands upon his hardly, if not always honestly, earned wealth. Retaliation or refusal he dares not offer, for the ice-bound road to the Siberian mines is a path many of his brethren have trod before, and he has no wish to follow their example. “Better,” he says,

· are oppressions and robbery than the driver's knout and a life-long imprisonment in the mines of Tobolsk.” And his choice of the lesser of these two evils tends in no slight measure to make the Russian Jew a cunning, treacherous, and cowardly time-server.

In order to protect their interests the Russian Jews have established a peculiar form of government—a kind of imperium in imperio—but which is only applicable to those of the Hebrew faith in the Russian dominions. This government is carried on by two institutions, the Kagal or Khider-hakagalthe commercial government, and the Beth-din-the Talmudical court, which is partially recognised by the Russian laws. The

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government is elective; but both electors and elected must have obtained a certain rank in the community, gained nominally by proficienoy in the learning of the Talmud, and often granted in reality to rich men for a money payment.

The Kagal not only directs the schools and internal government of the community, but supervises and regulates all the affairs of Hebrews with the non-Hebrew population, forbidding or allowing them, as it considers best for their interests. This power is completely arbitrary, and there can be no appeal from it. The authority of all external laws and regulations is denied, and said to be not binding on Hebrews; and they are strictly forbidden to have recourse to a Russian court in disputes with each other, even when the Russian laws coincide with the Hebrew. The Kagal, however, does not scruple to have recourse to the external authorities, when necessary and practicable, to assist in its objects. It claims to have authority over the whole territory and population of the district. The non-Hebrews who are in possession of property there are looked upon as infringers of the rights of the chosen people of God. The Kagal grants or sells the right of living in the district to a new-comer; and, without the necessary papers, a Jew coming from another district would find it impossible to live or support himself. The property of nonHebrews is, according to the Talmud, a free wilderness, or as Rabbi Joseph Rulun says, “a sort of free lake,” in which only that Hebrew can place nets who has obtained a right to it from the Kagal. Thus regarding the property of nonHebrews as the general property of the community, the Kagal sells to the Jew the right to possess himself of this property, and even draws up bills of sale, and receives money from him. More than that, it sells the right to make profit


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out of individuals, to lend them money, and to get hold of their possessions. Statements of this kind seem almost incredible, yet Mr. Braphmann* (whose work is my authority for these facts) quotes, in full, formal acts, one selling the right to the shop of a Russian merchant, another a part of the city lands, with the buildings that may hereafter be erected by government, and another a whole Franciscan convent. After such a sale no other Jew can interfere, without the permission of the purchaser; and should a Jew purchase or get hold of property belonging to a Christian, which had not previously been disposed of by the Kagal, he would have to buy it again from the Kagal before his rights would be recognised by the Rabbinical court, or by his fellows.

Besicles its power of fixing the residence of Jews, the Kagal claims the right to interfere with their choice of occupation, and to prevent them from exercising it; regulates even the details of their domestic life; fixes the number of persons that can be present at a marriage or festival, the musicians that can be employed, and many other petty things. One of its greatest powers is in the butchering of cattle. The Jews, as is well known, can eat no meat but that killed in accordance with the precepts of the law of Moses; and in Russia this rule is most strictly regarded: but the religious instincts of the people do not keep them so much to its strict observance as the active supervision of the Rabbinical authorities. These authorities are the more particular as they collect a tax on meat, which supplies funds for commercial purposes, and which has been recognised and confirmed by the Russian laws; the government officials being required to assist in its collection, on the ground that the Kagal will thus be able to

* The Book of Kagal. Hebrew Local and Universal Societies. By. J. Braphmann,

make good the deficiencies in the government taxes of Jewish communities. The Kagal is also authorised by law to impose a tax on all liquors sold in taverns and dram-shops kept by Hebrews in country villages. This tax, of course, falls on the consumers; the purchasers are all peasants, and there are no other dram-shops. Another curious instance of a tax on the whole population, for the benefit of the Jews, is found in Kilne. In the Jewish quarter there has long been permitted a tax on provisions for the Kagal ; and a few years ago the Kagal succeeded in persuading the city authorities to remove the public fish-market to that quarter, thus laying the excise on the whole community. This tax, in 1867, was farmed out by the city council for three hundred and forty pounds. One might almost think Judaism the state religion there.

When travelling in Poland, I happened to be staying at the quaint, dirty city of Jitomir during the month of September -the month sacred to the great Jewish fasts and festivals. It had long been my wish to be an eye-witness of the ceremonies performed on the great Fast of the Atonement by the Polish Jews, who are the ritualists of the Hebrew church, adhering to the very letter of the ceremonial, and not departing one iota from the rubric laid down by their forefathers. Thanks to an English clergyman, I was introduced to an elderly Polish Rabbi, who kindly offered to be my cicerone, and to give me every necessary information. I gladly accepted his offer, and what I saw and learned I now proceed to describe.

On the day before the Fast of the Atonement, the Rabbi, his wife, two sons, and myself went into his study soon after breakfast, and there I saw the strangest ceremony I ever witnessed in my life. On a table was a large basket in which


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were three cocks and a hen, all having their legs tied. The Rabbi approached the table, took one of the cocks by his tied legs, and, after repeating a cabalistic prayer, composed for the occasion, said, “The children of men that sit in darkness and the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron: He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands asunder. . . If there be for him an angel, an intercessor, one among a thousand, to show unto man his uprightness, then He is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom.' The Rabbi then whirled the cock around his head, saying, This is my atonement, this is my

ransom. This cock goeth to death, but may I be gathered and enter into a long and happy life, and into peace.” This he recited three times, and then took the hen and performed the same ceremony for his wife. His two sons now took hold of the other two cocks, repeating exactly the same prayer as that of their father; and then all laid their hands on the cocks and hen, and immediately afterwards they were handed to the Jewish butcher to be killed. This extraordinary proceeding is called the Keparoth, or atoning sacrifice.

Under the old dispensation, the High Priest of the Jews was commanded by the Mosaic law, once every year, to make an atonement for himself, and for all the people of every class and degree. As the Jews have now no high-priest, and no altar, they endeavour to keep up the spirit of the law by this self-devised sacrifice. Nothing can be a clearer proof of the deeply-rooted conviction in the heart of a Hebrew, that without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. Had the Rabbis really believed that repentance, or the Day of Atonement itself, or almsgiving and the like, really atoned for sin,

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