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Astrakhan, Russia

ASTRAKHAN, Volga port, capital of Astrakhan district, Russia. The "Jewish Statute" of 1804 (see *Russia ) included the province (gubernia) of Astrakhan in the *Pale of Settlement . However, in 1825 Jewish settlement in this government was prohibited. The "Jewish Statute" of 1835 excluded the province of Astrakhan from the Pale and the 49 Jews were ordered to leave. Shortly afterward a community was again established by Jewish soldiers stationed in the town. In 1850 Jewish merchants from the Caucasus obtained permission to visit Astrakhan twice yearly for a total of not longer than six months in the year. In the second half of the 19th century, Jews in categories with the right of domicile outside the Pale moved there. An Ashkenazi synagogue was established in 1866, and in 1879 the Oriental Jews, who used to visit Astrakhan on business, also founded a synagogue. In 1897 there were 2,164 Jews living in Astrakhan; in 1926, 5,904 (3.4% of the total population); and in 1939, 4,077 (1.61%). In 1970 there were 3,462 Jews in Astrakhan with a synagogue and a cemetery. The synagogue was attacked in 1964 and there were reports of Jews having been murdered. Hooligans were arrested but were not brought to trial. Jewish community life revived in the 1990s. The restored synagogue was reopened in 2003, and Shlomo Zalman Goldenberg became the first rabbi to serve the city in 70 years. The number of Jews was estimated at 3,000 in 2002.

[Eliyahu Feldman]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.