Brief historical context
Mainly Jews started to settle in Bessarabia when it became part of the Russian Empire in 1812. Many came from Galicia, Ukraine, Poland, and other regions lured by tax incentives and other favorable rules. They brought with them special working skills, such as the ability to work on the land as farmers, and practiced various crafts and trades.
During the 1817 census, there were 3,826 Jewish families in Bessarabia (estimated at 19,000 people, or 4.2% of the total population). Over the next generations, the Jewish population of Bessarabia grew significantly. Unlike most of the rest of the Russian Empire, in Bessarabia, Jews were allowed to settle in fairs and cities. Tzar Nicolas I issued an ukaz (decree) that allowed Jews to settle in Bessarabia "in as higher number", giving settled Jews 2 years free of taxation.
At the same time, Jews from Podolia (Southern Ukraine) and Kherson Gubernias were given 5 years free of taxation if they settle in Bessarabia.
As a result, the merchant activity was not enough to sustain all Jews, which led the authorities to create 17 Jewish agricultural colonies (in some of them – Marculesti, Vertiujeni, Necolaeva-Blagodati and Telenesti, the members of the studied families resided).
10,589 Jews were settled in these 17 villages, forming 1,082 Jewish households. However, after several years, Jews settled in these rural colonies in Bessarabia preferred merchant activities with cattle, leather, wool, tobacco, while their agricultural land was mostly rented out to Christian peasants. After more years, many of these Jews moved to fairs, and sold their land to Moldavians. During the 1856 census, there were 78,751 Jews in Bessarabia (or ca. 8% of the total population).
Bessarabia in 1897 was a home for 228,000 Jews, 11% of the total population of the region. Its capital, Kishinev, had almost 50,000 Jews, half the population of this city. Tens of thousands of Bessarabian Jews emigrated to the USA, Argentina, Palestine, and other countries at the end of 19th century, before and especially after the infamous Kishinev Pogroms of 1903 and 1905. By the eve of World War II, the Jewish population in Bessarabia was estimated to be between 300,000 and 350,000.