RAZSVET (Rus. "Dawn"), name of four Russian-Jewish weeklies that appeared in Russia and abroad.
(1) The first Razsvet was published in Odessa (May 1860–May 1861). The first Jewish periodical in Russian, it was founded in an era when knowledge of the Russian language was rare even among "enlightened" Jews. Although a few maskilim in Vilna and Minsk regarded the promotion of Russian among the Jews as a step toward social integration in Russia (see *Haskalah), Odessa was the only Russian-speaking Jewish community of any considerable size. Among the founders of Razsvet were Osip *Rabinovich and Joachim (Ḥayyim) *Tarnopol, who in 1856 appealed to the ministry of education through N.I. Pirogov, inspector of education for the Odessa region, to allow them to publish a weekly. The purpose of this weekly was to spread Russian among the masses, thus helping to eliminate prejudices and enlighten the Jews. Rabinovich and Tarnopol also claimed that the periodical would serve to clarify Jewish problems to the Russian public and combat defamation of the Jews and attacks against them. After considerable effort permission was received to publish the weekly. Soon after the first issues a disagreement arose among the founders as to whether Razsvet should include Jewish self-criticism and a public airing of internal Jewish problems. It was feared that
(2) The second Razsvet, published in St. Petersburg (September 1879–January 1883), was founded by a group of young intellectuals seeking ways to attract more enlightened Jews back to their national values. Publication rights were acquired from the journalist Alexander *Zederbaum, who had been granted them by the authorities. The editors were Jacob Rosenfeld and G.I. *Bogrov, and the staff was filled by such writers as S. *Wengeroff, L. *Slonimski, A. Tenenbaum, S.Z. Luria, A. *Volynski (A.L. Flexer), and M.B.H. Ha-Kohen, and the poets N. *Minski (Vilenkin) and S. *Frug. Razsvet called for Jewish patriotism and the development of Jewish literature in Russian, closer association with the Jewish masses, and a positive approach to Jewish national values, the Jewish religion, the Hebrew language, and the settlement of Ereẓ Israel. The solution of the Jewish problem would be for large numbers of Jews to take up agriculture. The publication soon attained a circulation of 3,400. However, the wave of pogroms and antisemitism in 1881 caused severe disillusionment among the staff, and after several weeks of indecision they reached the conclusion that the sole solution to the Jewish problem was emigration. Hence Razsvet became the outstanding spokesman for organized emigration and the proponent of the *Ḥibbat Zion movement. The January 16, 1882, edition of Razsvet contained an interview between a staff member, I. Orshanski, and the minister of the interior, N. Ignatiev, in which the latter announced that "the western borders were open to the Jews." The Zionist writings of Levanda and M.L. *Lilienblum appeared in Razsvet, as well as a translation of Pinsker's Autoemanzipation. Bogrov left the staff, and Rosenfeld departed for Constantinople to examine the possibilities of Jewish immigration into, and settlement in, Ereẓ Israel. Opponents of mass emigration sought all possible ways to fight Razsvet's policies. The two other Russian-Jewish periodicals, Russky Yevrey and *Voskhod, attacked Razsvet, and letters were sent to the provinces to discourage further subscriptions; by 1883 circulation fell to 900. Financial support was not forthcoming and Razsvet closed down. Its staff dispersed, some withdrawing from public life and some joining Ḥibbat Zion; others turned their attention from Jewish affairs to find their places in Russian literature and public activity. Despite its brief existence Razsvet opened up a new direction in Jewish life and thought in Russia, especially among the intellectuals.
(3) The third Razsvet was a weekly journal of topical political and literary content, published in St. Petersburg by the Zionist Organization of Russia from 1907, when it replaced the weeklies Khronika Yevreyskoy Zhizni ("Chronicle of Jewish Life") and Yevreyskiy Narod ("The Jewish People"), which had been suppressed by the czarist administration. The editor of Razsvet was A.D. *Idelson, assisted by an editorial staff consisting of S. Gepstein, A. *Goldstein, V. *Jabotinsky, A. Seidenman, and M. Soloveichik (*Solieli). Questions of major policy were decided upon by the Zionist Central Committee. Razsvet played an outstanding part in molding and disseminating the ideology and program of the Zionist movement in Russia. Strictly adhering to Herzl's political Zionism, the journal also advocated immediate practical colonizing work in Ereẓ Israel and active Zionist participation in the defense of the rights and interests of the Russian-Jewish community. It laid the foundation of what later became known as "synthetic Zionism," a concept which harmoniously combined the traditional Zionist negation of *Galut with the struggle for Jewish survival and national organization in the countries of dispersion. Razsvet's militant nationalist crusade against all forms of assimilation contributed essentially to the defeat of assimilationist tendencies and groups in Russian Jewry and made it the most widely read Jewish publication in the Russian language. Early in its career its circulation reached 10,000. In July 1915 the weekly was closed down, and in its stead appeared in Moscow the Yevreyskaya Zhizn. In July 1917 Razsvet again appeared in Petrograd, and its circulation rose to 25,000. After the Bolshevik Revolution of November 1917, the Zionist press was allowed to exist for a time. But in September 1918 Razsvet was closed by the Cheka. In its place appeared the Khronika Yevrevskoy Zhizni, edited by Y. Klebanov, which was also closed down on July 18, 1919.
(4) The fourth Razsvet reappeared in 1922 in Berlin as the organ of the Federation of Russian-Ukrainian Zionists in exile. It was headed by an editorial board nominated by the Federation and consisting of S. Gepstein (editor), J. *Schechtman (secretary), M. Aleinikov, Ḥayyim Greenberg, M. Hindes, and V. *Jacobson. Soon after V. Jabotinsky's resignation from the Zionist executive (February 1923), Razsvet endorsed his criticism of the official Zionist political line and his concept of an activist Zionist policy; it strongly disapproved, however, of Jabotinsky's later decision to leave the World Zionist Organization. Soon Jabotinsky, J. *Brutzkus, Y. Klinov, M. Schwartzman, and I. Trivus joined the reconstructed editorial board and Razsvet became the spokesman of the Zionist Revisionists. Financial difficulties led to the periodical's brief discontinuance in May 1924, but by the end of the year publication was resumed in Paris, with Jabotinsky as editor-in-chief and M. Berchin and J. Schechtman as acting editors.
[Joseph B. Schechtman]
M.L. Lilienblum, Derekh La'avor Ge'ulim (1899); M. Kagan, in: Perezhitoye, 3 (1911), 151–7; M. Ha-Kohen, Olami, 1 (1927), 112–206; 2 (1927), 42–46; S. Zinberg, Istoriya yevreyskoy pechati (1915); S. Ginzburg, Amolike Peterburg (1944), 155–69; B. Shochetman, in: He-Avar, 2 (1954), 61–72; J.B. Schechtman, The Vladimir Jabotinsky Story, 1 (1956), index; M. Perlmann, in: JSOS, 24 (1962), 162–82; idem, in: PAAJR, 33 (1965), 21–50; J. Slutsky, Ha-Ittonut ha-Yehudit-Rusit ba-Me'ah ha-19 (1970), 102–15, 122–7.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.