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TARTU (Ger. and Swed. Dorpat; Rus. Yuryev), city in E. Estonia. A small Jewish community was founded there by demobilized soldiers from the army of *Nicholas I in the 1860s. A synagogue was erected in 1876. The community numbered 1,774 (4% of the total population) in 1897, 1,115 in 1922, and 920 in 1934. There were both Jewish elementary and secondary schools in the city. Jews studied at the University of Tartu from the 1840s; there were 235 Jewish students in 1886 (14.8% of the total number of students). With the Russification of the university and the introduction of a *numerus clausus, the number of Jewish students was reduced, and a further reduction occurred after the establishment of independent Estonia following World War I; from 188 Jewish university students in 1926 their number decreased to 96 in 1934. In 1934 a seminary for Jewish studies was opened at the university under the guidance of the scholar L. Gulkowitsch. He was succeeded by the scholar and educator M.J. Nadel (1893–1936) and by the Hebrew author H.J. Port (1892–1940). The Association for the Study of Jewish History and Literature, founded in 1884, held an important place in the life of the Jewish students. Among the association's first members were Jacob *Bernstein-Kogan (Cohan) and A. Broide; it became a center particularly for the national minded and Zionist students. When Estonia was incorporated in the Soviet Union in 1940, Jewish communal life in Tartu was brought to an end. After the German occupation in 1941 the Jews who did not succeed in escaping from Tartu were murdered.

Some 200 Jews returned to Tartu from the Soviet Union, later joined by Russian-born Jews. In 1967, many of them immigrated to Israel. The city has a Jewish community center.


K. Jokton, Di Geshikhte fun di Yidn in Estland (1927), 25–57. J. Bernstein-Cohen, in: Sefer Bernstein-Cohen (1946), 84–91.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.