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To Russian Jews the synagogue was the center of religion and religion was themost important thing in their lives The rabbi was their leader they came to him withevery problem they had Jews were poor but they all gave tzedakah It was said thateven the poorest Jews could find someone poorer to help and give money to Accordingto the Jewish religion tzedakah is one of the most important mitzvahs you can do Thesame could be said about the Jewish holidays They were observed very strictly butShabbat was the most welcomed In order to teach the importance of Jewish law theystarted their own schools their own courts of law and their own burial societies eventhough there were pogroms religious persecution forced the Jews to create strongercommunities and made them more unitedIn the beginning of the 1800s Alexander I ruled Russia He promised the Jewsthat they could become farmers could live in two districts and could buy unoccupiedland Although Alexander was kind and helped the Jews the tax they were forced to paystayed before he died in 1825 the Jewish situation became hard for them to bare Theylived in poverty in small and crowded places and were oppressedFor hundreds of years Jews lived these ways in two communities - the ghetto and theshtetl To keep out thieves and rioters from coming in they built walls around theirsection of town When they did this the government and churches got an idea theywould use the walls that the Jews built to lock them in These walls were located near a foundry that made cannons so they named itghetto which means foundry They would close the gates every night and the Jewswould be locked in until daybreak The word of the ghettos quickly spread soon therewere ghettos all over Europe The Jews were all treated the same in every ghetto that wasin Europe according the government and churches the Jews had no rights They wereno allowed to own land join
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