Jewish Community in Hard Times
following the 1917 Russian Revolution were a time of great upheaval
for the Jews of the western Soviet Union. In the village of Lyubavichi,
best known today as the birthplace of Øabad (Lubavitch)
Hasidism, the Jewish population declined from 1,302 to 967 in
the years from 1921 to 1925. This excerpt is from a report written
in 1925 which describes the economic deprivation and the severe
changes wrought by war, revolution, and pogroms.
Before the revolution the economy of the village . . . .
rested on two bases: flax and . . . . the rabbi. This was
an important center for the preparation of flax, which was
processed here and shipped by rail. It was also the residence
of the famous Rabbi
Shneyerson, and a center of Hasidism. Hasidim poured
into the village of Lyubavichi every day from all sides,
including a number of merchants, who supplied the local
population. Artisanry and handicrafts flourished, despite
the scornful attitude toward productive work on the part
of the "court."
The imperialist and civil wars undermined the economic foundation
of the village. Flax did not appear at the markets. The
court of the rabbi and the nest of Hasidim were destroyed.
Most of the population were deprived of their former sources
of subsistence. The impoverishment of the population began.