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November 3: Celebrating the Tsar’s Death

November 3, 2015

233px-Alexander_III_of_RussiaSome 2,000 Jews in Boston attended a mock funeral for Tsar Alexander III at Memorial Hall on this date in 1894, in celebration of his death two days earlier. According to a wire service article at the time, “socialists and labor leaders were the orators,” and “parodists were numerous, and the music was enlivening.” Alexander III was far more conservative a ruler than his father, who had been assassinated by Narodnaya Volya (the People’s Will) revolutionaries in 1881; among the many measures the younger Alexander implemented to reverse his father’s liberalization of Russia’s feudal society were the “May Laws” of 1882, which enormously restricted where Jews could live, work, and be educated. The participation of young Jew in anti-Tsarist movements was also exploited by the new government to stir popular belief that the Jews had murdered Alexander II. Premeditated pogroms broke out in 160 locations during the six months after Alexander III rose to the throne, in which thousands of Jews were killed, raped, and injured, about a thousand Jewish homes were destroyed, and many of the Jews in southern Russia were reduced to extreme poverty. Tsar Alexander III’s death in a train derailment was celebrated by Jews the world over.

“Let us never forget that it was the Jews who crucified Jesus.” —Tsar Alexander III