Jewish Community in Finland #general #russia


Barbara Levy
 


My grandfather said he was born in Finland, probably in Hamina, Finland. Does anyone know if there was a Jewish community in Hamina, Finland around 1878, when he was born? How might I find out about this? When he was a little boy, his family moved (back?) to Riga, which is where his family was from. Why did they move to Finland? Why did they leave Finland and move to Latvia? I'm trying to find out all I can about Jews in Finland. (I've looked at the general sources available through the web.)

Barbara Levy


Jules Levin
 

I have, or had, relatives from Finland.  Historically Finland admitted
no Jews--it was without Jews at the beginning of the 19th Century.  But
Jews who served honorably in the Russian army and were discharged in
Finland could remain there and send home for brides.  This was the
beginning of the Finnish Jewish community. There is a woman in Finland
with a web site.   She located info on my family.  My great-grand-uncle
served there and remained.  He had 3 children--2 are buried in the
Jewish cemetery of Turku, and one in Helsinki.   This woman would
certainly know about Hamina. My guess is that these Jews were mostly
from the Baltic areas--my family were all Litvaks.  If your relative was
born there, it means his father would have been the discharged soldier. 
The only other class of Jew permitted would have been a rabbi, which the
newly developing communities were allowed to hire and import. Perhaps
your relative's parents were originally from Latvia and decided to
return--they would no doubt have relatives already there.

Jules Levin


On 2/1/2021 11:58 AM, Barbara Levy wrote:

My grandfather said he was born in Finland, probably in Hamina,
Finland. Does anyone know if there was a Jewish community in Hamina,
Finland around 1878, when he was born? How might I find out about
this? When he was a little boy, his family moved (back?) to Riga,
which is where his family was from. Why did they move to Finland? Why
did they leave Finland and move to Latvia? I'm trying to find out all
I can about Jews in Finland. (I've looked at the general sources
available through the web.)

Barbara Levy


Barbara Levy
 

I'd love to get in touch with the woman with a web site who located info about your family. Would you mind telling me her name and the name of the web site? If you like, you can send it to me at my email address. babaabram@.... Thanks so much!
--
Jewish community in Hamina, Finland
My grandfather said he was born in Hamina, Finland. Does anyone know if there was a Jewish community in Hamina, Finland? Do you know if Hamina was a Russian territory or a Finnish territory in 1878, when he was born?
#general
#russia
Barbara Levy


Russ Maurer
 

https://www.amitys.com/webtrees/index.php?ctype=gedcom&ged=Gedcom.ged

The page linked above has an option to request a user account to make full use of the site, which is indeed marvelous. My Finnish relatives are in there, too.

Russ Maurer
Pepper Pike, OH


seligson@...
 

I am from Finland and three of my eight great-grandparents were already born there, the first one in 1857.
Finland was a part of the Russian empire from 1809 to 1917. Although it has an autonomous status, there were Russian troops stationed in Finland. These troops included a number of Jews, serving mostly in auxiliary positions: tailors, musicians etc. Many of these Jews - so-called Cantonists - were more or less kidnapped at a tender age to serve in the army up to 25 years, the goal being to turn them into good Christians. In 1858 retired Russian soldiers were permitted to stay at their last place of service. This rule applied to all, not only to the Jews. Before that the old laws from the period, when Finland was a part of Sweden prohibited Jews from living in Finland. Hamina is an interesting place: it became a part of Russia already in 1743, after the treaty of Turku, and the first known Jew to have known permanently settled in what is now Finland was Jacob Weikain, who was working in Hamina in 1799. In 1878 there was a small Jewish community in Hamina, and an old cemetery, with some 20 graves, still exists. To your question why they would leave Finland to go (back) to Latvia, there can be many explanations. One explanation can be that they had relatives there and considered life in Latvia to be more promising. Another explanation can be that the permission for the retired soldiers to stay in Finland applied only to them and their families: when their children grew up they faced the threat of being evicted from Finland. The woman Jules Levin mentioned is Meliza Amity and she can be contacted through her website at www.amitys.com. there you can find a huge tree with over 30,000 names, covering virtually all Jewish families ever lived in Finland. As a guest you can see the data on those that are deceased.

David Seligson
Poiseul-la-Grange, France
searching Seligson, Skurnik, Klimscheffskij, Indursky, Guterman, Levin, Fischlein, Rung, Feitelberg, Bubelsky


joel.blankett@...
 

My ancestors also arrived in Finland from various parts of the Russian Empire, during the mid-late19th C. I have been researching my own family roots for many years.As has been mentioned by others, I also recommend you check the website of Meliza Amity ( https://www.amitys.com/webtrees/index.php?ctype=gedcom&ged=Gedcom.ged ), and contact her directly (I'll send you her contact info privately).

The only other option would be to do research (or hire someone to do it for you) in the National Archives of Finland. Almost all archival material relating to the Jewish communities in Finland is currently kept there. Unfortunately, hardly any of it has been digitized. Maybe contact them by email and ask if they have any material relating to the tiny Jewish community - probably not more than a dozen families altogether - that did indeed exist in Hamina (in Swedish: Fredrikshamn) during part of the 19th C. Sweden surrendered Hamina to Russia already in 1743, much before the rest of Finland became part of the Russian Empire in 1809. The Jewish community in Hamina ceased to exist, I believe, long before Finland became independent in 1917.

Joel Blankett
Jerusalem, Israel (formerly Helsinki, Finland)


Barbara Levy
 

Thank you SO much!
--
Jewish community in Hamina, Finland
My grandfather said he was born in Hamina, Finland. Does anyone know if there was a Jewish community in Hamina, Finland? Do you know if Hamina was a Russian territory or a Finnish territory in 1878, when he was born?

Barbara Levy


Jules Levin
 

The status of Jews in the army needs to be clarified.  The Cantonist
system was officially ended in 1871.  Afterward Jews were subjected to
the same military service as others.  Although many Jews in the service
had to hear efforts to convert them, a remarkable percent, including
those who remained in Finland as Jews, managed to resist.  My own
relative appears as a Jew living in Viipuri--now Vyborg.  These were
specifically Jewish veterans. My ancestor was listed as sgt.   Many
Cantonists thrived in the army and remained loyal Jews, including the
highest ranking Jew, a Sargent Major--the highest ranking non-com
position.  In the Jewish cemetery of Tsarskoe Selo is the grave of a
Jew, a Cantonist, awarded the Cross of St. George for heroism in battle.
The Jewish language press in Russia--Hebrew, Yiddish, or Russian, often
published the reminiscences of Jewish veterans.  Joseph Trumpeldor, a
hero of the first Yeshuv, had lost an arm in Russian service, and said
he would gladly give another arm for the tsar.    Alexander I had
excused the Jews from the draft, because he considered them weak and
untrainable.  Nicholas I was a martinet who thought that everyone, even
the Jews, could be made into soldiers.  In the US, UK, or France the
view of Alexander I would be abhorrent to Jews.  The problem was that
the rabbinate resisted the draft because dietary and other religious
laws would not be observed.  They facilitated draft evasion and the
community failed to meet its quota.  [while this was going on, keep in
mind that 60% of Russians were serfs, whose owners easily met the quota
by sending their property to the army like it or not.]  As a result,
Russia instituted the Kahal method, and it was the Kahal--the Jewish
community leaders, who were responsible for meeting the quota.

I realize that many Jewishgenners will be horrified by this contrarian
view, but remember that views are shaped by the opinions of ancestors
who left Russia.   Тhe 6 million Jews who were still in Russia in 1900
were proud of their sons' service, as shown by the many family photos of
young men in uniform.

Jules Levin



On 2/2/2021 4:20 AM, seligson@... wrote:
I am from Finland and three of my eight great-grandparents were
already born there, the first one in 1857.
Finland was a part of the Russian empire from 1809 to 1917. Although
it has an autonomous status, there were Russian troops stationed in
Finland. These troops included a number of Jews, serving mostly in
auxiliary positions: tailors, musicians etc. Many of these Jews -
so-called Cantonists - were more or less kidnapped at a tender age to
serve in the army up to 25 years, the goal being to turn them into
good Christians. In 1858 retired Russian soldiers were permitted to
stay at their last place of service. This rule applied to all, not
only to the Jews. Before that the old laws from the period, when
Finland was a part of Sweden prohibited Jews from living in Finland.
Hamina is an interesting place: it became a part of Russia already in
1743, after the treaty of Turku, and the first known Jew to have known
permanently settled in what is now Finland was Jacob Weikain, who was
working in Hamina in 1799. In 1878 there was a small Jewish community
in Hamina, and an old cemetery, with some 20 graves, still exists. To
your question why they would leave Finland to go (back) to Latvia,
there can be many explanations. One explanation can be that they had
relatives there and considered life in Latvia to be more promising.
Another explanation can be that the permission for the retired
soldiers to stay in Finland applied only to them and their families:
when their children grew up they faced the threat of being evicted
from Finland. The woman Jules Levin mentioned is Meliza Amity and she
can be contacted through her website at www.amitys.com
<http://www.amitys.com>. there you can find a huge tree with over
30,000 names, covering virtually all Jewish families ever lived in
Finland. As a guest you can see the data on those that are deceased.

David Seligson
Poiseul-la-Grange, France
searching Seligson, Skurnik, Klimscheffskij, Indursky, Guterman,
Levin, Fischlein, Rung, Feitelberg, Bubelsky


Barbara Levy
 

Thanks for all your help. I know about the kahal, and their use in filling army quotas. It's not pleasant history, but it's true.

--
Jewish community in Hamina, Finland
My grandfather said he was born in Hamina, Finland. Does anyone know if there was a Jewish community in Hamina, Finland? Do you know if Hamina was a Russian territory or a Finnish territory in 1878, when he was born?
#general
#russia
Barbara Levy


Helen Gardner
 

I find it very interesting that Finland had no Jews until the 19th century.
As someone with Polish ancestry, I was totally surprised when I got my mtDNA HVR1 results  to find that I had 154 matches from Finland (plus 54 from Norway and 36 from Sweden).
As I understand it, mtDNA results generally indicate a common ancestor some centuries ago.  Does that mean that my "Finnish" matches actually refer to long ago Russian ancestors?
--
Helen Gardner

ancestral names, all from Poland, mostly Warsaw

AJGENGOLD/EIGENGOLD, BERCHOJER, BLANK, BIALOGORA, BLUMBERG, CHMIELNICKI, FELD, FERNEBOK/FERNSBUN, EDELMAN, FRYDMAN, GELDTRUNK, GURIN, ISSAKOWICH, LAKS, LERMAN, MALIS, MENDER/MONDER, MLYNARZ/MILLER, PODGORER/PODGORSKI, POPOWER, RAUTARBER/ROTGERBERG, RASTENBERG, POSSIBLY PRESSEIZEN