Editor's Note: Alexander II took a different tack then his father Czar Nicholas I with respect to assimilating Jews, attempting to bring them into Russian society through education. In his innaugural year, he decided to regulate the melamed profession and the kheder. The decree suggests two types of documents were created: Teaching certificates and register books for melameds. This is the only pre-1874 decree concerning the kheder. The words 'kheder' and 'melamed' were not translated from Russian; they appear in transliterated Cyrillic in the original decree.
On the manner of supervision of private instruction of Jewish children, and on the register form, which rabbis are obligated to submit on private Jewish teachers.
The governing Senate heard the report of the Interior Minister of November 13, 1856, which was presented
to the governing Senate in order to [zavisyashchago] the command, the imperial ratification this November 5
of the opinion of State Council on the manner of supervision of private instruction of Jewish children, as well as
to entrust the compilation of registers, forms approved by the Interior Minister, Ministry and State Council,
which rabbis are obligated to submit on private Jewish teachers. The opinion of State Council on the following
matter: the Legal Department of the State Council, in general assembly, considering the presentation of
the Interior Minister on the manner of supervision of private instruction of Jewish children,
reached this opinion: to enact, as a supplement subject to articles of the Legal Code and
the Code of Law on Punishments, the following regulations for the purpose of supervising private instruction of Jewish
1. On certificates issued to Jewish schools by the Commission for the melamed profession, not only first name and nickname must always be indicated, but also age and marks of the person for whom the certificate is issued. Entry of these marks on the certificate, as far as at the time of issuing, is the responsibility of the local police.
2. Homes in which private schools for the instruction of Jewish children are located, must have, without fail, signs indicating the name of the melamed; the room for instruction must always display the certificate given to the melamed of his profession.
3. Rabbis and their assistants have these obligations: first, to strictly supervise, so that no one who is Jewish, not presently certified in the melamed profession, or as a landlord of a private school of almost any type, is in any way engaged in the teaching of Hebrew laws or language to Jewish children, and that such persons, once provided with a teaching certificate by the authorities, teach exclusively and solely those subjects which are designated on the certificate, and only under the direction and curriculum ratified by the authorities; second, on any infringement of the regulations published on this subject, to immediately report to the Commission on Jewish Schools, as well as the uezd police chief, or the city chief of police, in order that the culprits be handed over for trial and punishment by law; and third, in every Jewish educational authority, to submit semi-annually, i.e., on the 1st of May and the 1st of November, to this Commission and the police, detailed registers on private Jewish teachers, on forms furnished by the Interior Minister, and over and above this, to report immediately on any increase in melameds or landords of private Jewish schools; in case of the deaths of same, to obtain the certificate of their profession and return the certificate to the Commission which issued it.
4. Educational authorities and police are obligated as frequently as possible to check up on those places obtained from rabbis' registers and certifications: not to happen at the indulgence of melameds, in violation of the educational authority regulation published on this subject.
5. The Commission must annually, on July 1 and December 1, report to the administrator of the educational district, and to the chief of Gubernia police, as follows: delivering for the prescribed period of the prior six months the aforesaid registers from all rabbis, and who among them has not submitted one, and to certify whether the items shown are correct, or by checking, to find those that are incorrect.
6. In case of a missing or incorrect register, the head gubernia official has the authority to order them immediately produced or to punish the perpetrators; in receipt of the aforesaid report, the Department of Religious Affairs of Foreign Faiths is informed annually, on January 1 and August 1.
7. Rabbis who fail to perform the responsibilities that lie with them to supervise the private education of Jewish children will be subject to: on the first occasion, a fine of from five to seventy-five rubles, and on the second, beyond a double fine, removal from their post, forever prohibited to be a rabbi.
8. Melameds who violate the rules prescribed for the education of Jewish youth will be subject to: on the first two occasions, a fine, double the amount determined by statutes 1319 - 1322 of the Legal Code on Punishment, and on the third occasion, beyond a fine, imprisonment for a period of six months to one year.
9. Jewish parents, relatives, and guardians, who place children for instruction in the kheder or with a melamed contrary to the prescribed rules, are subject to a fine determined by statutes 1321 and 1322 of the Legal Code on Punishment; -- and
10. As monetary penalties in statutes 1319 - 1322 of the Legal Code on Punishment are determined by cities and settlements, then for the purpose of preventing any misunderstanding with regard to the amounts of these penalties in shtetls and posads, in which most Jews in the western districts of the Empire reside, one of the city penalty lists is to be supplied for the consideration of shtetls and posads.
His Imperial Majesty, following the opinion in the General Assembly of State Council, on the manner of
supervision of private instruction of Jewish children, is imperially pleased to confirm and order it carried out.
November 5th, 1856. Ordered: On this, his most supreme Imperial Majesty's command, enclosed in the register
submitted by the Interior Minister for information, and the order is to be dispatched to those whom it will concern,
the chief officials of gubernias and gubernia administrations of those gubernias where Jews have permanent residence,
as the ministers are notified.
(V.P.S.Z. Vol. XXXI, No. 31,104).