The Kishinev Pogrom
Kishinev, Russia, 1903 (now chisinau, moldova)
In April of 1903 an anti-Semitic Russian newspaper accused the Kishinev Jewish community of murdering two children and using their blood to prepare matzah for Passover — a classic example of a popular and gruesome anti-Semitic trope known as the blood libel. Egged on by the newspaper and the local Russian Orthodox bishop, Easter-going locals, led by their priests, left church and went straight to a two-day binge of destruction and murder, killing 49 Jews, injuring hundreds more, and destroying hundreds of homes and businesses. The New York Times described as a “horror…beyond description.” It was so awful Teddy Roosevelt mentioned it in his 1904 State of the Union Address. The Russian government essentially blamed it on the Jews. The pogrom deeply impacted Zionist leaders like Vladimir Jabotinsky, for whom Jewish self-defense became of paramount importance and an essential component of their Zionist ideology.