Estonian Jews

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The Jewish permanent settlement was established in Estonia in XIX century when the Jews having emigrated and sent from the eastern areas of the Russian empire started to live here.

In Estonia the Jews lived in the cities together with the local citizens. The special, mainly settlements with the Jewish citizenship such as in the southern Eastern Europe were not established. During the WW II the Estonian Jewish community was ruined: the ones who were not able to escape, these were deported to Siberia or were executed by the Nazis - the number of the latter was about thousand people. Pursuant to WW II also Jews arrived together with other immigrants from the Soviet Union to Estonia.

Together with other nationalities, also Jews and their descendants have returned today to Estonia. Thus the Estonian contemporary Jewish community is quite diverse looking. The Yiddish as the traditional language of the Estonian Jews is spoken by the few, most of them speak Russian, some also Estonian. The Estonian Jews are also very different as to their origin. The main cultural centre of the Jews is Tallinn in Estonia including the synagogue and the Jewish school. The Jewish communities are considerably smaller elsewhere.

On the photo: Tallinn's synagogue at Maakri street before WW II


Jüri Viikberg. Eesti rahvaste raamat. Eesti entsüklopeediakirjastus: Tallinn 1999


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