In 1881–1914, Pinsk was a relatively small city in Belarus. Nevertheless, it earned a place of honor on the Jewish map owing to the intensity of its communal life, the development of civic institutions, and the city's sensitivity to the needs of Jews. In addition to its nationalistic, democratic, and revolutionary fervor, Pinsk was responsive to the continual changing rhythms of the times. To a certain extent, Pinsk retained its heritage of leadership in the Lithuanian Jewish Council (autonomous central organization of Lithuanian Jewry) as well as the tradition of fervor and confidence associated with the Karlin Hasidim. This chapter describes Pinsk and its Jewish community between 1881 and 1914, focusing on the confluence of factors that shaped the city's special character. In particular, it looks at the demography of Pinsk, the emigration of Jews from the city, how the political-legal status of Russian Jewry influenced the lives of the Jews in Pinsk, and the economic crisis suffered by the city during the period.
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