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Title given to four different Russian Jewish periodicals. The first Razsvet (Dawn) was a weekly published in Odessa from May 1860 to May 1861. The journal’s target audience was Russian maskilim, and its goal, in addition to spreading Haskalah, was to fight for emancipation.

Edited by Osip Rabinovich (1817–1869) and Joachim Tarnopol (1810–1900), the initial Razsvet series established the first Russian Jewish periodical. Regular participants included the writer Lev Levanda and the history professor Aleksandr Georgievskii. Another important contributor was the German Jewish historian Isaac Marcus Jost. But Razsvet had only a small audience and aroused much hostility as a result of its tendency to expose the Jewish community’s faults and infighting. The journal sought to see the Jewish community integrated with the Russian population, while at the same time preserving and developing its own national values. Razsvet was quickly succeeded by the weekly Sion (Zion).

The second weekly Razsvet was published in Saint Petersburg from September 1879 to February 1883. The editors received permission to publish through the publication’s official editor, Aleksander Zederbaum. Its true editors were Mikhail Kulisher (1847–1919), followed by Ya‘akov Rosenfeld (1839–1885) and Grigorii Bogrov (1825–1885). After 1882, Rosenfeld edited Razsvet alone. Among its prominent contributors were the orientalist Daniil Khvol’son and the poet Shimen Frug.

The Russian Jewish intelligentsia’s growth was reflected in the impressive distribution of this periodical, which at one time reached 3,400 copies. However, after the 1881–1882 pogroms, circulation slipped to barely 1,000, and then dropped to 900. There were two main reasons for this sharp decline. First, the Jewish inhabitants of southern Russian towns, who were the main subscribers to the journal, were growing increasingly impoverished. Second, Hebrew-language literature and the Hebrew press were gaining influence and popularity.

The central aims of this second Razsvet were to disseminate Jewish history and to encourage and support Jewish settlement in Palestine. Originally the journal argued that the Jewish situation in Russia could be solved if a significant number of Russian Jews became involved in agriculture and other manual labor; however, after pogroms in the early 1880s it could offer no panacea other than the wholesale emigration of Russian Jewry. Mosheh Leib Lilienblum’s article “Obshche evreiski vopros i Palestina” (The Jewish Question and the Holy Land), which appeared in October 1881, signaled this new orientation. Another sign was the periodical’s decision to translate Yehudah Leib (Lev) Pinsker’s Autoemancipation from German into Russian.

Also known as Razsvet was the weekly organ of the Zionist Organization in Russia, published in Saint Petersburg (Petrograd) from January 1907 until the paper was shut down by the censor in June 1915. It had replaced the Zionist monthly Evreiskaia zhizn’ (1904–1907), but after this Razsvet was banned in turn, it was replaced by a new weekly, which reverted to the name Evreiskaia zhizn’. The editor of Razsvet was Avraham Idelson (1865–1921), and among the prominent contributors were Yitsḥak Grünbaum and Vladimir Jabotinsky. As was the case with its previous namesakes, this Razsvet supported Russian Jewry’s struggle to attain national rights, and at the same time actively participated in Russian internal politics.

The last Razsvet (Berlin, Paris; 1922–1934), the organ of the Revisionist Zionist movement, was aimed at Russian Jewish émigrés., Its publishers included Shlomo Epshtein and Vladimir Jabotinsky.

Suggested Reading

Alexander Orbach, New Voices of Russian Jewry: A Study of the Russian-Jewish Press of Odessa in the Era of the Great Reforms, 1860–1871 (Leiden, 1980); Yehuda Slutsky, Ha-‘Itonut ha-Yehudit-Rusit be-me’ah ha-tesha‘-‘esreh (Jerusalem, 1970); Yehuda Slutsky, Ha-‘Itonut ha-Yehudit-Rusit be-me’ah ha-‘esrim, 1900–1918 (Tel Aviv, 1978).



Translated from Hebrew by David Fachler; revised by Avraham Greenbaum