This article explores the subject of Jewish aid work in the former Russian Empire during the Russian Civil War. It considers responses of Jews to the civil war pogroms in the context of Russia’s “continuum of crisis,” or nearly eight continuous years of military conflict and political instability from 1914 to 1921. It argues that Jewish aid organizations during the Russian Civil War relied on people, institutions, and practices established by their predecessors during the First World War. Jewish aid workers during the Russian Civil War looked to their immediate past as they developed tactics and strategies to navigate a period of political chaos and mass violence. This history demonstrates several continuities within the Jewish public organizational sphere across the revolutionary divide. It shows that Jewish aid workers’ ability to adapt ideas and institutions that had originated before the October Revolution enabled them to assist communities caught up in subsequent wartime and revolutionary upheavals.

issue 15 / August 2019 by Polly Zavadivker