Pale of the Settlement Working-Class Jewish Youth and Adoption of Revolutionary Identity During the 1905 Revolution

Inna Shtakser


This paper examines the construction of a revolutionary identity among the working-class Jewish youth of the Pale of Settlement through the prism of changes taking place in their attitudes and behavior standards. I claim that these changes, caused initially by worsening economic and social conditions for the Jewish community in the Russian empire, resulted in the creation of a new image a young Jew could choose for her/himself, that of a working-class Jewish revolutionary. This new image widened the options for secularization available to working-class Jews and signaled a greater openness within the Jewish community to an idea of a secular Jew. The availability of a new secular, activist identity also allowed the workingclass revolutionary youth to create for themselves a new political space within the hierarchy of the Jewish community, a space dependent on their combined new and old identities as revolutionaries and Jews.

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