Jewish History

, Volume 27, Issue 2–4, pp 241–269 | Cite as

Hasidism in Tsarist Russia: Historical and Social Aspects

  • David AssafEmail author
  • Gadi Sagiv


It is difficult to ascribe to Hasidism sets of distinctive regional characteristics, because Hasidism transcended both communal and national boundaries. Aware of this problem, the authors of this article seek to characterize Hasidism in Russia, while eschewing the essentialist assumption that Hasidism in Russia had a Russian character.

The article describes Hasidism in Tsarist Russia from several perspectives. From an internal Jewish perspective, it discusses features of dynasties of hasidic leaders and the courts they lived in. This is followed by a discussion of relations between hasidic centers (the courts) and hasidic peripheries (the local communities). Relations between Hasidism and the Russian administration are also analyzed, as are the various ways in which hasidim in Russia adapted to the challenges of modernity, while hasidic leaders in Galicia and Hungary were usually more hostile towards modernization. Finally, the article describes the consequences of the upheavals of the First World War, Bolshevik Revolution, and the Civil Wars that followed. During these dramatic events and in their aftermath, the majority of the hasidic leaders in Russia moved to other places in Europe, America, and Palestine, and only some of them remained under the Soviet regime.


Hasidism Eastern Europe Tsarist Russia Nineteenth century Political history Dynasties 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tel-Aviv UniversityTel-AvivIsrael
  2. 2.The Hebrew University of JerusalemJerusalemIsrael

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