The new Jewish year spells significant changes for Russian Jewry. It is preceded by the introduction of a new policy on the part of the Soviet governmentâ€”a policy which permits private trade in a certain degree; which gives free reign to the artisans; and which presents improved opportunities for the inhabitants of the Jewish towns.
Whether or not one is of the opinion that the present Soviet policy is a return to the Nep; regardless of one’s belief it is a purely temporary policy planned to operate for a short period only,â€”this much is certainâ€”it is bound to bring a change in the situation in the Jewish towns.
In the past yearâ€”this year of employment for allâ€”there remained in the Jewish towns some 400,000 who were not permitted to engage in any work; 400,000 Jews who were looked upon as former declassed, as persons who have no place in a Communist land.
Now these 400,000 Jews will be able to breathe more freely. No longer will they be dependent upon aid from their relatives abroad or alms from children in the larger cities.
The new Soviet decrees permit any one so choosing to open his own little workshop. They provide further that every small artisan need not be dependent on the artelsâ€”that he may purchase raw material in the private market and sell his finished product in the private market, too.
These new decrees provide a means of livelihood to those who were not accepted previously in any co-operatives, who were not settled on any land, and who were not permitted to procure any other work.
This new policy, moreover, is certain to have a marked effect even on the status of those thousands of Jews who received full Soviet rights but who, notwithstanding remained in an unfortunate position owing to the shortage of raw materials, the bureaucracy of local Soviet officials and the unfortunate psychological adherence to ancient beliefs.
Town life is certain to revive in the next year. Not so colony life.
The Jewish colonies which in the early years of their establishment evinced energetic activity have been virtually paralyzed by collectivization. Collectivization has deadened activity in the Jewish colonies in the Kalinindorf region, ruined them in the Stalindorf and New Zlatapol regions. It has had a less destructive effect in Crimea there alone where the Agrojoint for the time being is continuing its work.