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Cantonists, The

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Cantonists, The: Jews who, by decree of Czar Nicholas I, had been snatched from their families when they were young children for a 25-year term of military conscription.
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The Tsar's Jewish Child-Soldiers
The tragedy and triumph of Jewish children who were kidnapped and forced into the Russian military during the 19th century.
Jewish prisoners who spend the High Holidays behind bars are often forgotten. Rabbi Fishel Jacobs spent a career catering to this unseen population.
After many long minutes, the Rebbe finally lifted his head from his arms and said solemnly: "You can go home. Your wife just gave birth to a baby boy..."
“Rebbe! We’ve been toiling all morning, polishing our buttons in your honor. Now it’s your turn to work hard: polish our souls, which have been dulled and coarsened . . .”
Reb Chayim YehoshuaFrom HaTamim, Issue No. 6, pp. 97-99; 2 13 Nissan 5697; appears as a continuation of the story of Reb Gavriel Nossai Chein. We include some excerpts from the same issue, pp. 8-12, taken from the Previous Rebbe’s remarks on a letter by t...
The few who survived were so emotionally and psychologically destroyed that they were never able to live normal lives. They lived together in little villages, apart from the rest of the world
No words were necessary. I knew I was to be one of those boys who would be sent away from home, perhaps never to see my parents again.
The widow approached the Rebbe Rashab, seeking his guidance…
To the czar’s horror, the soldier tugged his curved sword out from its sheath and presented it to the innkeeper . . .
A fresh beginning for a community founded by forced conscripts
The Jewish community of Omsk, in southwestern Siberia, was founded 150 years ago, largely by “Cantonists,” young Jews who had been forced into the Czarist army for 25-year terms of service as part of a larger 19th-century plan to assimilate the Jewish com...
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