Kindling Enlightenment: A Social History of the Jewish Candle Tax in Russia

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This article offers an alternative social history of the candle tax, generally viewed as part of the failed experiment of state-run Jewish schools in the Russian Empire. Building on scholarship that suggests the schools actually had some influence and the Jewish minority in Russia actively engaged with the government in negotiating their own transformation, this article follows the diversion of candle tax funds into private schools for Jewish girls and Jewish religion courses in Russian state schools. I argue that, just as the framers of the original legislation could not have foreseen its secondary uses, so, too, the educators who repurposed the candle tax monies could not have imagined the enduring consequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-90
Number of pages27
JournalJewish Social Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Religious studies


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