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Razsvet

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 a lack of discretion might provoke antisemitic reaction. Those who opposed self-criticism, led by Tarnopol, left the staff, and Rabinovich remained as sole editor. Among those who contributed to Razsvet were the writer L. *Levanda, the physician and communal leader E. Soloveychik, and the jurist and historian Hermann *Baratz, as well as the Russian professor A.I. Georgiyevski and the German-Jewish historian I.M. *Jost. From the outset Razsvet encountered difficulties from the censors, who forbade all reference to emancipation for the Jews, and from the apathy of the Jewish public toward the Russian language. The number of subscribers never exceeded 640. After a year's publication, Rabinovich was forced to relinquish editorship to L. *Pinsker and Soloveychik, who for technical reasons changed the periodical's name to Sion. Razsvet was a first step in an effort to encourage an active Russian-speaking Jewish intelligentsia and a Jewish literature in Russian.

(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.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

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.