Emigration from Novogrudek

Up to the First World War, Novogrudek was part of the Russian Empire and Jews were subject to discriminatory laws.

Following the assassination of Tsar Nicholas II in 1881 persecution in the Russian Empire intensified. In addition, the economic situation drove thousands to leave their homes in Eastern Europe and seek better lives in the West. Between 1881 and 1914 approximately 2.5 million Jews left for America and Western Europe and over four thousand emigrated from Novogrudek alone. In addition to America and Western Europe, the growing Zionist movement meant that some Jews started to emigrate to Palestine. Those that did were mainly young people, hoping to establish a Jewish claim to their historical homeland.

Among the emigrants was Alexander Harcavy. He was born in Novogrudek in 1863 to a well established family and left for America in 1886. In 1890 he published a popular text book ‘English Teacher’ which sold 100,000 copies. In 1898 he published the first Yiddish – English dictionary.