||A description of the condition of the Jews in Kishinev and the pogroms that occurred there. Kishinev (Rum. Chisintu), capital of Moldova, formerly within Bessarabia. A Jewish cemetery is known to have existed in a village near Kishinev during the 18th century. In 1774, a hevra kaddisha was founded in the town with a membership of 144. When Kishinev became the capital of Bessarabia under Russian rule (1818) it developed rapidly, becoming a commercial and industrial center, and many Jews moved there from other places in Russia. The first rabbi of Kishinev was Zalman b. Mordecai Shargorodski. In 1816, R. Hayyim b. Solomon Tyrer of Czernowitz laid the foundation stone of the Great Synagogue and in 1838, in the wake of the authorities' efforts to hasten the assimilation of the Jews, the first Jewish secular school was opened. In time two other government schools were opened. The poet J. Eichenbaum and the scholar J. Goldenthal taught there. The Haskalah movement won few adherents among the Jews of Kishinev.
From 10,509 (12.2% of the total population) in 1847, the numbers of Jews in the city grew to 18,327 (21.8%) in 1867 and 50,237 (46%) in 1897. At the close of the 19th century most of the Jews were engaged in commerce, handicrafts, and industry. About 20,000 Jews were in miscellaneous occupations, in particular in the garment and timber industries and in the manufacture and trade of agricultural products, for which the region was noted. Jews owned many flour mills and plants for curing tobacco and drying fruit, and wine cellars. In 1898, 29 of the 38 factories of all kinds in Kishinev were owned by Jews. Large commercial houses and printing presses were also owned by Jews and employed thousands of Jewish workers. Because of the policy of the Russian authorities, who deliberately fostered anti-Semitism and passed legislation restricting the sources of livelihood open to Jews, Kishinev had a particularly large number of poor and destitute who were supported by various charitable institutions. In 1898, the separate welfare organizations amalgamated to form the Society in Aid of the Poor of Kishinev. Until World War I, the framework of Jewish life remained unchanged.
The name of Kishinev became known to the world at large as a result of pogroms. Initiated and organized by the local and central authorities, a pogrom took place during Easter on April 6–7, 1903. Agents of the Ministry of the Interior and high Russian officials of the Bessarabian administration were involved in its preparation, evidently with the backing of the minister of the interior, V. Plehve. The pogrom was preceded by a poisonous anti-Jewish campaign led by P. Krushevan, director of the Bessarabian newspaper Bessarabets, who incited the population through a constant stream of vicious articles. One of the authors of the most virulent articles was the local police chief, Levendall. In such a heated atmosphere any incident could have dire consequences, and when the body of a Christian child was found, and a young Christian woman patient committed suicide in the Jewish hospital, the mob became violent. A blood libel, circulated by the Bessarabets, spread like wildfire. (It was later proved that the child was murdered by his relatives and that the suicide of the young woman was in no way connected with the Jews.) According to official statistics, 49 Jews lost their lives and more than 500 were injured, some of them seriously; 700 houses were looted and destroyed and 600 businesses and shops were looted. The material loss amounted to 2,500,000 gold rubles, and about 2,000 families were left homeless. Both Russians and Rumanians joined in the riots. Russians were sent in from other towns and the students of the theological seminaries and the secondary schools and colleges played a leading role. The garrison of 5,000 soldiers stationed in the city, which could easily have held back the mob, took no action. Public outcry throughout the world was aroused by the incident and protest meetings were organized in London, Paris, and New York. A letter of protest written in the United States was handed over to President Theodore Roosevelt to be delivered to the czar, who refused to accept it. Under the pressure of public opinion, some of the perpetrators of the pogrom were brought to justice but they were awarded very lenient sentences. L. N. Tolstoy expressed his sympathy for the victims, condemning the czarist authorities as responsible for the pogrom. The Russian writer Vladimir Korolenko described the pogrom in his story, "House No. 13" as did H. N. Bialik in his poem, "Be-Ir ha-Haregah" ("In the Town of Death").