Say what you want being a Jew in America today, but at least we got our freedoms. For instance, the freedom to choose where to live.
So we choose to live in New Jersey. By the same token, we can choose to live in Alabama, Oregon, or Guam. Or even Nebraska. (Well, not Nebraska. Go Cornhuskers!?)
In Czarist Russia, the location chose you.
So, if you were Jewish, you couldn't live in a big city like Moscow or St. Petersburg. You were forced to stay in your shtetl or pick the Russian equivalent of Alabama or Nebraska. New Jersey seems nicer by the minute.
So Isaac Levitan was kicked out of Moscow. It doesn't matter that he was one of the most influential landscape painters of the 19th century. He could have been Isaac Levitan, the local shoe cobbler, the result would have been the same. Cities were off-limits.
Now, being stuck in the Russian version of Nebraska might have been good for Levitan the landscape painter, but it sure wasn't too desirable for Levitan the human being. Thankfully for him, there were some benefits to being a famous painter, which came in the form of powerful friends. So Levitan was able to circumvent the law and return to Moscow... after some palms were greased.
There is a joke somewhere about similarities between modern-day America and Czarist Russia, but we choose not to make it.