One of the world's most beautiful cities, St. Petersburg has all the ingredients for an unforgettable travel experience: high art, lavish architecture, an extraordinary history and rich cultural traditions that have inspired and nurtured some of the modern world's greatest literature, music, and visual art. From the mysterious twilight of the White Nights to world-beating opera and ballet productions on magical winter evenings, St. Petersburg charms and entices in every season.
Eastern Europe, the Eastern shore of the Baltic Sea (Gulf of Finland)
Latitude - 59 degrees 57' North, Longitude - 30 degrees 19' East
2. Time Zone: GMT +3, Eastern +8
The city was founded on 27th of May, 1703 by the decision of the Russian Emperor Peter the Great
4 million 750 thousand (as of January 1998)
5. How we call our city:
‘Venice of the North’ – because there are over 350 bridges and over 70 kilometers of rivers and canals
‘Leningrad’ – in a memory not only of the Soviet times but of the 900 days of Siege during the World War II
‘The Northern Capital of Russia’ -referring to the centuries-old rivalry between St. Petersburg and Moscow
‘Piter ‘– common name used by locals
6. Area: 1400 square kilometers
the Angel with a Cross - weather-vane on top of the Peter and Paul Cathedral
the Little Ship - weather-vane on top of the Admiralty tower
The Jewish community of St.Petersburg is about 36.600 citizens. The history of the city keeps quite a number of Jewish names.
The first Jewish resident of St.Petersburg was Antoine Devier, a descendant of Portuguese christened Jews, invited by Peter I from Holland to become the first General Polizeimeister (chief of St. Petersburg police).
Another name is Peter Shafirov - christened Jew, Vice-Chancellor of the Russian Empire - a top person in Russia’s foreign policy.
During the reign of Catherine II (1762 - 1796) the territory of Russia was significantly enlarged, and as the result of annexation of Crimea (1783), Lithuania, Poland and Volyn (1793-1795) together with new territories Russia acquired also a new type of population – the Jews. So by the end of 18th century a significant number of East-European Ashkenazi Jews as well as Karaims and mountain Jews had become residents of the Russian Empire. We can even say that till the end of 19th century the majority of European Jews lived in the territory of the Russian Empire.
By the 1780-ies a small but constant Jewish community appears in St.Petersburg. It was made up of Jewish deputies, headed by merchants from Byelorussia Abram Peretz and Nota Notkin. Their family members and servants came together with them.
A piece of land for Jewish cemetery was purchased in 1802 and the first community book, pinchas, was started. Since this moment it is possible to say that a Jewish community appeared in St.Petersburg.
In the second half of the 19th century thanks to the reforms of the Russian Emperor Alexander II the Jewish population of the capital was growing rapidly. In 1869, according to official data, 6654 Jews resided in St.-Petersburg, that is, 1% of the total population of the capital. Alexander II approved the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers permitting Jews to build the Grand Choral Synagogue instead of meeting-houses.
In 1880 “The society of crafts and farming among Russian Jews” (ORT) was founded in St.-Petersburg to create the system of professional training for Jews and the aid to Jewish craftsmen. ORT gave the students of 3 schools and 46 classes the most actual professions such as electrician, draftsman, driver, and projectionist. In fact, an ORT certificate guaranteed employment. Nowadays the ORT system covers many countries in the world.
In 1908 – 1913 the publishing house “Brokgauz i Efron” together with the Society for Jewish Scientific Publications published a 16-volume Russian-language «Jewish Encyclopedia». This edition has not lost its scientific value up to this day.
St.Petersburg Jews integrated successfully into economical and cultural life of the Rusian capital, mastering occupations quite new for the traditional Jewry. In 1869 in the list of Jews constantly residing in St. Petersburg one can find not only bankers and merchants, but also university professors, doctors, journalists, architects. And among Jewish craftsmen there were not only tailors, furriers and shoemakers, but also photographers and mechanics.
St.Petersburg Jews obtained the leading position in medicine (almost every fifth doctor and almost half of all the dentists of the capital), legal profession (more than 20% of certified lawyers and about 44% of their assistants), pharmacy (almost two-thirds of drugstore owners), printing arts (more than a third), watch making and trade in watches (more than two thirds), photography (every fifth studio owner). St.Petersburg Jews owned linen, furriery and hosiery workshops, metalwork, mechanic and cabinetmaking shops.
Many St.-Petersburg Jews played an important role in managing the largest banks and joint-stock companies.
There were successful Jews in sculpture, painting and music.
Walking around the city a visitor may find lots of places closely connected to the history of the Russian Jewish community.