On Easter Sunday 1903, a blood libel-incited pogrom took place in Kishnev, Russia. Dozens of Jews were killed and over 500 injured.
In February 1903, a youth named Michael Rybalenko was killed in Dabossary, a town near Kishnev, in Russia. Although it was later proven that he was killed by his uncle, a rumor spread that he had been killed by Jews, supposedly to provide blood for Passover matza. This cruel and infamous blood libel, one of the most frequently recurring in Jewish history, was fanned by the local government subsidized newspaper, Bessarabetz, which called for the death of Russian Jews. On Easter Eve, a rumor was spread that Jews had killed a Christian servant girl. On Easter Sunday, April 6, 1903, a mob began attacking Jewish homes and shops in Kishnev. The rioting lasted three days, until Russian troops intervened. Some 47 Jews were killed and over 500 were wounded. The Kishnev pogrom -- the first pogrom in the 20th century --underscored the vulnerability of the Jewish people in Europe, and was simultaneously a catalyst for the establishment of a Jewish defense organization in Eastern Europe, and for the continuing growth of the Zionist movement.