The book covers the history of the Jewish minority in Petrograd-Leningrad from 1917 - the year of the Russian revolutions, through the periods of "war communism", the New Economic Policy, the first "Five Year Plans", and the mass purges of the 1930s.
The first part of the book discusses the zigzags of governmental policy and attitudes of the general population towards the Jews, as well as the role played by the Jews, as an ; ethnic group, in city life. It also includes a detailed analysis of the demographic and socio-economic changes among the Jewish population of Leningrad. The processes of their acculturation, urbanization, and integration into Soviet society are also discussed. The second part is devoted to different aspects of Jewish life, Jewish political parties, and organizations, religious and communal activities, social assistance, education, culture, and Jewish studies. Special attention is paid to the stratum of the "organized Jewish public", "thanks to whose efforts Jewish life in Leningrad was so rich and survived so long, despite of the pressure of the authorities.
The author is a former refusenik and activist of the Jewish cultural movement in Leningrad in the 1980s, who now lives in Israel. He is presently working for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and teaching Russian Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.