Jewish History Soundbites

Come on and Ride the Train: Railroads & Jews

December 7, 2021

The development of the railroad and the laying of rail track across the Russian Empire in the late 19th century, had a tremendous impact on traditional Jewish life in the Pale of Settlement. The railroad brought economic changes, implosion of communal structures and challenges to traditional norms. It enabled information to travel and for the spread of ideas, and for isolated shtetl’s to have access to wider society. 

Among other things, the development of the railroad in Russia enabled the spread of anti-Semitism and pogroms. It also played a crucial role in facilitating the Great Immigration. Without the railroad, emigrating would be relegated to an unachievable dream for most. With the railroad, the cost and time for travel was significantly reduced. 


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