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How the Russia-Japanese War changed my family

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The Russo-Japanese war resonates in many ways in Russia’s recent war on Ukraine and has changed the world more than most realize. Russia’s crushing defeat raised Japan to a state of world power, helped bring down the czar and usher in the communist revolution, and escalated machinery and lethal warfare. For many Jewish communities, this was the first time their children served in the Russian military and in a war. It also highlighted brave young Jews such as Joseph Trumpeldor and Hynrik Goldszmidt, later known as Janusz Korczak. Yet as I discovered, it also changed a lot for my own family.

My great-grandfather, Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Spair, was serving at the time as the chief rabbi of the city of Saratov, one of Russia’s largest cities. He recognized there was a large number of Jews conscripted into the Russian army, with little to no arrangements made for their religious life. He mobilized and made great efforts to ensure that those soldiers had Kosher food. An unusual step for those days since the Jewish community had not been used to making religious arrangements for its members conscripted into the army and taken to........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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