Subbotniki.net

The Subbotnik Information Exchange

 (Cубботники, Subbotniks)

....preserving our Subbotnik heritage

Established 2005


(Last updated on September 28, 2014)
Welcome! This Subbotniki.net web site is dedicated to research and information exchange regarding the Subbotniks (Cубботники, Subbotniki):  

Who are the Subbotniks?

The Subbotniks are/were Russian Christians who, after becoming literate enough to read the Bible, became self-enlightened and broke away from the Orthodox Church to live and worship according to the Laws of Moses of the Old Testament. Some of these people eventually converted to Judaism with a desire to immigrate to Palestine while those who did not maintained their inherent Russian cultural heritage and identity.
".... The Russian language maintains the useful distinction between Evrei, ethnic Jews, and Judei, followers of Judaism, simplifying the complex identity of this religious community. Described as a “Judaizing Sect,” the Subbotniks (“Saturday people” in Russian) were Christian Russian peasants who dissented from Russian Orthodoxy and began to recognize Mosaic Law late in the 18th century, observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher and practicing circumcision."  
Source Jewish? No, We’re Subbotniks. Welcome to Our Synagogue. Russian Sect Practices Judaism — In a Way
  Article by By Maxim Edwards published July 13, 2014 by The Jewish Daily Forward

This Subbotnik conversion phenomenon also affected Molokan Spiritual Christian families living in the Trans-Caucasus regions of the Russian Empire (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Eastern Turkey) in the late 19th century. Some of the Molokan families split along religious lines. During the early part of the 20th century, many of this group of Subbotniks immigrated to Southern California in the United States alongside their Molokan "cousins". In the late 1950's, the Los Angeles Subbotnik congregation dissolved and ceased to exist with the remaining membership assimilating into other faiths.

The majority of Subbotniks remained behind in Russia which morphed into the former Soviet Union. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, most of these Subbotniks moved back into Russia proper from the former Soviet republics while some chose to immigrate to Israel.

This web site does not represent any organization, just individuals wishing to promote knowledge and understanding about the Subbotniks. This Subbotniki.net home page consists of an organized collection of links to major articles and original content pertaining to Subbotniks around the world, past and present. Please explore the content here, and send us your comments or questions. New material, links questions and comments are always welcomed and  appreciated.

Send corrections, suggestions, new information to: Bill Aldacushion

NOTE: The views represented by the content of external links contained or referenced on this web site are not necessarily those of the Subbotniki.net web site coordinators but are included only to present the wide range of views surrounding the Subbotniki so that all this information can be viewed in context.

Web Site Guide


Click on any of the topics to go directly to that content.

1. Subbotniki (Cубботники) — An Introduction

2. The Subbotniki Research Report Comprehensive, introductory research report with photos, maps and bibliography (material below was discovered after report was written)
3. Subbotniki in Los Angeles: Background and History
4. General Background Information and Research
5. Subbotniki Around the World
6. Other Subbotniki-related Reference Web Sites
7. Contact Information




Purpose of this website:
Prior to the launch of this web site (April 4, 2005), there was no central source of information on the Subbotniki, nor was information on this Russian religious sect easy to find. As a descendant of Subbotnik and Molokan parents in America, I have always wanted to better understand my religious and ethnic heritage. I can remember that my Pivovaroff babunya [grandmother] who was Subbotniki and my Babashoff babunya who was Molokan practiced their religions in different ways and on different days, but beyond that, there were many similarities between them.

I have been told by my Subbotnik ancestors that they did not consider themselves to be Jews and originally did not even call themselves Subbotniki. While living in Russia, they met in secret in a member's basement to avoid detection by government authorities and the Orthodox Church. They simply referred to their group as the congregation that met at so-and-so's house. The moniker Subbotniki was laid upon them by the outside community due to their observance of the Saturday Sabbath as prescribed in the Old Testament. After immigrating to Los Angeles at the beginning of the 20th century, they referred to themselves as Russians or Russian Americans. There was a contention between the Subbotnik and the Jewish communities and between the Subbotniks and the Molokans as described in my Subbotnik Research Report.

I am pleased to present the information on this website which I maintain with Andrei Conovaloff, who hosts a similar site about Molokans — Molokane.org. I am grateful for his support, without which this site could not be launched. My goal is to promote understanding and to encourage others to share what they may know about the Subbotniks. Since the Subbotniki have essentially ceased to exist as organized congregations, except in a few pockets of the former Soviet Union, I feel it is important to document what we have found so far.

1. Subbotniki (Cубботники) — An Introduction

Russian: Subbotniki субботники.  English: Saturday Sabbath Keepers.

Subbotniki is the name given to a Russian Sabbath-observing sect — “Saturday people” —  "Sabbath keepers" — “the people of the Law of Moses” — non-Jewish Russians who obey the Old Testament, hold services on Saturday, and follow many Jewish laws and customs. They are not to be confused with other Sabbath-keepers or Sabbatarians, like “Seventh-Day Baptist,” Church of God, Seventh-day Adventists, etc. (See The Sabbatarian Context discussion below on this web site.)  Other spellings: "Subbotnikim" in Israel, "Subotnik", "Subbotnick", "Sobotniki".

Several references in Russian and other source material label members of this sect as Judaizers as opposed to calling them Jews. The term Judaizers can be defined: "... predominantly a Christian term. According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions this term includes groups such as Jewish Christians, Quartodecimans, Ethiopian Christians, descendants of English Puritanism such as the Seventh-day Adventists and others, who claim the necessity of obedience to the Mosaic Laws which are found in the first five books of the Christian Old Testament." The Russian Orthodox Church punished their heresy — Christian- Judaizers.

Only a few Subbotniki congregations with dwindling numbers are known to exist today in Israel, Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan with some Sabbatarian congregations found in Transylvania and Hungary. Some emigrated to Israel, Europe and the US. See the  Sekstanstvo (Sectarian) Bodies: Judaizing Sects for a further discussion of the classification of these sects.

Subbotniki in Vyoskii     Subbotnki Funeral
Subbotnik service in Vysokij, Russia, 2005.            Subbotniki funeral in Los Angeles, USA, 1930's
See also photos in Armenia and America.

For the purposes of discussion on this web site, members of the Subbotniki sect can be broadly sub-categorized into two groups:
  1.  “Molokan-Subbotniki” relates to ethnic Russians who converted from the Molokan faith to Subbotniki, but 
    • Did not adopt the Talmud as a basis of their religious practices 
    • Continued to acknowledge their relationship to the Molokan community despite of their religious differences which sometimes divided family members
    • Were not able to read, speak or understand the Hebrew language
    • Some followed the Molokans when they emigrated to Los Angeles around 1910. More recently, some Molokan-Subbotniki living in the independent republics on the Former Soviet Union have resettled near Molokan communities in Stavropol, Russia
  2. “Geres / Gers” (Russian: Gery [геры]) relates to ethnic Russians who adopted all aspects of Judaism and have closer affiliation with the Jews of Israel. 
The primary focus of my research is the Molokan-Subbotniki. For a more in-depth discussion of the Subbotniki sub-groups see the Subbotniki (Judaizers) article by A. Shmulevich below.

2. The Subbotniki Research Report



The Subbotniki
Research Report with photographs, maps bibliography and citations of additional resources and references, by William Abram Aldacushion (Алдакушин), July 2000 — webmaster of this site. Bill is a descendant of the dissolved Molokan-Subbotniki congregation in Los Angeles.

The Subbotniki
Table of contents HTML version:    Updated Feb 8, 2006
  1. Who Are the Subbotniki?
  2. Early Judaizing Movements in Russia
  3. Origins of the Subbotniki Sect
  4. Religious Doctrine
  5. Emigration to America
  6. Subbotniki in Los Angeles
  7. Those Who Stayed Behind
  8. Conclusion, Bibliography, Additional Resources

Also available in PDF version (2.8 MB)

3. Subbotniki in Los Angeles

General Background and History


See also Chapter 6 of The Subbotniki Research Report indexed above
.


115 Subbotniki known to be buried at Home of Peace Memorial Park  
Short history of this Jewish cemetery in East Los Angeles used by the Subbotniki congregation since 1911 with 115 deceased listed with vital statistics, locations, comments and links to gravestone photographs.

The Russians in Los Angeles By Lillian Sokoloff included in Studies in Sociology published by the Southern California Sociological Society, University of Southern California Press, March 1918 (Annotated by Andrei Conovaloff) 
"...Subbotniks (Judaized Russians) ... are Russians who have embraced the Jewish faith. This result was not through influence exerted on the part of Jews, however, because the Jews do not have any form of mission work for the purpose of conversion to Judaism; nor were there any Jews living in that part of Russia where these religious sects developed. The Subbotniks embraced Judaism as a result of reading the Old Testament."
In 1971, Los Angeles Subbotnik congregation dissolves, donates $800 to UMCA
Article by Alex Tolmas, Vice President UMCA, 1971.
The Subbotniki: Secret Jews of Boyle Heights
Article by Rabbi William M. Kramer, PhD — Western States Jewish History, Vol. 35, No. 2, 2000
Memories and Music
Article by Roberto Loiederman — The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, April 28, 2006
Efforts are underway to restore the Breed Street Shul near where the Subbotniki congregation in Los Angeles once conducted services.
Couple celebrates 70 years at ages 89, 92 - Daily Pilot (Newport Beach, California), November 27, 2007 
Article about Morris Abram Pivaroff (son of a respected leader in the former Los Angeles Subbotniki community) who maintained some of the basic tenets of his religion within his family upon his marriage to his beloved non-Subbotniki spouse Lillian.
"Their mothers decided a few months before the scheduled wedding date that the couple's cultural and religious differences just couldn't be ignored. The couple was young, respectful and didn't want to hurt their families, so they ended their relationship. .... 'Well, here's how {we got back together}," Lillian said. "He called me up after a couple of months and asked me if we got married and had children, if it would be all right if we raised them in his religion.'"
Note: Morris passed away on January 7, 2009 at the age of 93.  He was born in Los Angeles, graduated from Roosevelt High school, attended the University of Southern California and served in the US Army during WWII. Morris was a star tennis player in his day who once defeated the legendary Bobby Riggs. His live-long for tennis culminated in the dedication of the tennis center at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles which bears his name. Morris' professional life included careers in banking and real estate. See LMU Tennis Center Dedication

Abe AndroffCoach Abram "Abe" Abram Androff 
Abe Androff (May 13, 1921 - April 5, 2012) was the son of one of the founders and elders of the Subbotniki congregation in Los Angeles and provided valuable input and perspective for the content of this web site. His father Abram (Sr.) was instrumental in arranging for the Subbotniki to be buried in the Home of Peace Memorial Park as documented above. Abe was a basketball star at Lincoln High School and the University of Southern California, a US Army Air Corp flight instructor during WWII, appeared in a cameo role in movie The Jackie Robinson Story, and became a legendary basketball coach and educator at Glendale College in California. In 2005 Abe was inducted into the Glendale College Athletic Hall of Fame.
"In a career that spanned 24 years as the men’s basketball coach at Glendale College as well as stints as the head golf coach for six years and as an assistant coach for the football and baseball teams, Androff found success not in wins and losses but in helping young people achieve their goals."

Relationships with Molokans


See also Chapter 6 of The Subbotniki Research Report indexed above
.


Judaizers
Encyclopedia Judica
"Simeon Uklein ... introduced many Jewish customs among the members of his {Molokan} sect. His disciple Sundukov called for greater association of the sect with the Jews; this resulted in a split within its ranks and the creation of the 'Molokan Sabbath Observers'. ... The Judaizers succeeded particularly in the province of Saratov, where the preacher Milyukhin won over whole villages to his faith."
A Christianized Tribe of Jews near the Caspian Sea. Article appearing in Sacramento Daily Union on January 9, 1873   NEW! item added  July 7, 2014
"A peculiar sect of the Greek Catholic Church live in the neighborhood of the Caspian Sea under Russian dominion, and bearing the name of Shabotnics [Subbotniki]. The following account, published in the Israelite, is the first correct and reliable statement given of them. It is by a Subbotnik, who became a Jew: ......  in the government of Simbirsk, Samara, Saratov and Voronezh, about 7,000 Subbotnik's are still living, of whom, however, only 2,000 to 3,000 are descendants of the immigrants. The balance consist of original Christians [Molokane], who joined them, as they considered the celebration of Saturday more in accordance with the Bible." 
Some Subbotniks Immigrated to America Together with Molokans: The two sects shared routes, ports-of-entry and sometimes traveled together on same ships.     

Two Subbotnik Families Sail to America with Molokans in 1905 - Travel Journal   NEW! item added  July 29, 2014
SFO ArrivalPassenger List of Molokans and Subbotniks Arriving San Francisco on August 3, 1905  NEW! item added  July 29, 2014
Two Subbotnik families (Plushnikoff and Moiseve) traveled with a larger group of Russian Molokan immigrants from the Trans-Caucasus Region of the Russian Empire to Los Angeles via the Panama Canal and San Francisco in 1905. Members of these two families are buried in the Subbotnik sections of the Home of Peace Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California.
Passenger List of Molokans and Subbotniks Arriving San Francisco on August 3, 1905
aboard the SS San Juan from Ancón
, Panama  NEW! item added  July 29, 2014

Newspaper Account of Earlier Arrival of Molokans from the Larger Group on June 5, 1905  NEW! item added  July 29, 2014
aboard the SS San Juan from Ancón, Panama

Passenger List of Molokans Arriving San Francisco on August 25, 1905  NEW! item added  September 12, 2014
aboard the SS Newport from Ancón, Panama
Another Account of a Subbotnik Family's Immigration Experience via Bremen, Germany and Galveston, Texas in 1907 NEW! item added  July 29, 2014
Subbotnik members of the Pivovaroff family sailed on the SS Frankfort arriving Galveston on September 14, 1907. Members of this two family is also buried in the Subbotnik sections of the Home of Peace Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California.

Molokans Petition against "American, Catholic and Subbotniki bootleggers" in Los Angeles' Flats during Prohibition
Excerpt from doctoral dissertation: Assimilation Problems of Russian Molokans in Los Angeles by Pauline V. Young, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, June 1930
"Appeal to American Social Agencies:  The Molokans realize that their children are often the prey to undesirable city influences over which the Colony has no control. They, therefore, attempt to secure the cooperation of various urban social organizations which they hope might help them in eliminating the disorganizing forces to which immigrant neighborhoods are generally subjected. American, Italian, and Subbotniki bootleggers have a strong hold in the Flats. The Molokans have appealed to the district attorney's office to help them stamp out liquor from their Colony." (September 27, 1924)
Editor's Note: During Prohibition, there was an exemption granted in the Volstead Act providing for the manufacture and consumption of so-called “ritual wine” used in Jewish and Catholic religious observances (sacrament, weddings, funerals, Seder/Passover dinners, circumcisions, etc.). It was inevitable that some of this product made its way into the broader market for general consumption. See this article posted to the American Jewish Archives for a more in-depth discussion of this topic: "Let Them Drink and Forget Our Poverty" - Orthodox Rabbis React to Prohibition by Hannah Sprecher

Ocherki po istorii russkoi kul'tury (Essays of the history of Russian culture)
Excerpt translated from: Miliukov, P.N., Volume 2 of 3. Moscow. Reprinted 1994. Pages 126-7. [Original published in 1942.]
"Especially numerous were judaizers in the Saratov region were this unorganized sect had its own leader / preceptor [наставник — nastavnik], Semyon Dalmatov."
Early Jumper Leaders Criticize Subbotniki, original Molokans and the Russian Orthodox Church.  
Comments on 2 passages from the Jumpers' Book of the Sun: Spirit and Life. in which the Jumper leaders scorn the Subbotniki and all other 666 false faiths.
70 Molokan families converted to Judaism in Saratov, Russia, before 1925.
1946 interview with Mrs. Clara Adamovna, whose Molokan family all became Jews.
Some Molokans converted to Subbotnik then Judaism. They lived in Central Russia, then offered land in South Ukraine (Milky Waters), then in the Caucasus. They believed that Judaism is the right religion and that Palestine (Israel ) is the "promised land". Many fled illegally to ancient Palestine where their descendants are probably today. A few may have come to America. Here is very little of this history....
The Ukrainian Stundists and Russian Jews: a collaboration of evangelical peasants with Jewish intellectuals in late imperial Russia
Paper by Sergei Zhuk (Ball State University) presented by at the 5th International Postgraduate Conference held at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, 2008
"...At the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries, the Subbotniki movement spread to the south, to the new regions of Russian colonization in southern Ukraine and northern Caucasus, where their ideas of ‘Moses law’ and ‘Hebrew rituals’ affected local Molokans and other religious dissenters. .....Some Molokans in Ukraine accepted Sabbatarian religious practices, which transformed the entire Molokan movement..."

4. General Background Information and Research

Comprehensive Books and Research Reports


Gentile Reactions to Jewish Ideals - With Special Reference to Proselytes by Jacob S. Rasin, Published Posthumously under the Editorship of Herman Halperin, Philosophical Library, New york, 1953

Jacob RasinThis comprehensive and seminal work is available in many libraries. Used copies can be found for sale on several on-line book stores. Pages 705 -723 deal with the origin on Subbotniki and discuss the motivation of several individuals for converting to these beliefs.
"In Russia, Judaism, or some semblance of it, made its appeal not only to a few individuals, but to whole groups, and today there are all over the world hundreds of thousands of former Russian Orthodox Christians who are strict observers of the religion of Israel. .... The number of these Yudistvuyuschy, as they called themselves, was estimated at no less than one hundred thousand while that of the Molokane and Subbotniki, who in most instances were on their way to complete Judaization, was assumed to be as high as two million. The reaction which soon set in drove many of them under cover again, but many more left their possessions, which were sometimes considerable and with their families sought refuge in Canada, the United States, South America, and Palestine. Of those who emigrated to America, over a hundred families settled at Boyle Heights near Los Angeles, California."
Click here to open a PDF containing a scan of some sample pages.
Judaism and "Jewishness" as Other in 19th Century Russia:The Conscription/Conversion Policy of Nicholas I  (now longer available online)
Thesis by Joey Bacal, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Lewis & Clark College July 27, 1997
(Copies of Senior Theses can be found archived in Watzek library and in the department office.

Highlanders - A Journey to the Caucasus in Quest of Memory Book by Yo'av Karny, New York, 2000

HighlandersIn Highlanders, Yo'av Karny offers a better understanding of a region described as a "museum of civilizations," where breathtaking landscapes join with an astounding human diversity. Karny has spent many months among members of some of the smallest ethnic groups on earth, all of them living in the grim shadow of an unhappy empire.
"… the gist of my story. It is not so much their {Subbotniks} choice of God that intrigues me, as their doing so on their own terms. The Subbotniks broke new ground in modern Jewish history: they demonstrated the possibility of accepting Judaism without assuming Jewishness, changing faith without changing nation. Many Jews, possibly a majority, perceive themselves not merely ad coreligionists but as people ….. The Subbotniks offered an alternative. Their switch to the God of the Old Testament was entirely self-induced – no rabbis or “conversion courts" … were involved. … They stepped out of the church they were repudiating and into the temple for one reason: the Israelite creed appealed to them."

This journey included a 1992 and 1995 visit with the the Subbotniki communities in Yelenovka (Sevan), Armenia and Privolnoye, Azerbaijan which are documented in his book. Click here to peruse preview sections of this work on Google Books.

Субботники (Иудействующие) by Abraham Shmulevich and Mark Kipnia as it appear online in Notes of Jewish History, Number 1 (50), January 2005
Subbotniki (Judaizers) - rough, unofficial English translation (PDF)

This article presents a concise history of the Subbotniki movement on Russia and concludes with a classification of the various factions or branches of Subbotniki
"....There were various and often incompatible Subbotniki factions (sub-sects).... {which} can be categorized into two groups:

   1. Actual Subbotniki (i.e. those who converted to Judaism) and
   2. Christian sects complying with certain requirements and rituals of Judaism.

The first group includes:

    *  Subbotniki in the Kuban also known as Psaltirschikami ....
    * Geres, also called Talmudistami or Shapochnikami  ....
    * Subbotniki-Karaimity .

The Christian factions include:

    *  Subbotnik-Molokans .....
    *  Christian Subbotniki ...."
Heretics and Colonizers: Forging Russia's Empire in the South Caucasus  by Dr. Nicholas B. Breyfogle, Professor of History, Ohio State University 2005 book

Breyfogle bookFrom his 1998 PhD thesis examining how the “harmful sects” (Molokans, Doukhobors, Sabbatarians) were resettled to the Caucasus and their interaction with each other, often changing membership for privileges.
"In Heretics and Colonizers, Dr. Breyfogle explores the dynamic intersection of Russian borderland colonization and popular religious culture. He reconstructs the story of the religious sectarians (Doukhobors, Molokans, and Subbotniks) who settled, either voluntarily or by force, in the newly conquered lands of Transcaucasia in the nineteenth century. By ordering this migration in 1830, Nicholas I attempted at once to cleanse Russian Orthodoxy of heresies and to populate the newly annexed lands with ethnic Slavs who would shoulder the burden of imperial construction."
The Historical Parameters of Russian Religious Toleration  Paper by Dr. Nicholas B. Breyfogle, Professor of History, Ohio State University for The National council for East European Research - July 27, 2001    NEW! added  April 13, 2014
"...When I use terms such as “sectarian,” religious “dissenter,” and “non-conformist,” I am referring to the variety of what may be called “indigenous” Christian sects – including, but not limited to, Dukhobortsy, Molokane (Pryguny, Obshchie, Postoiannye, Dukhovnye), and Subbotniki (Iudeistvuiushchie) – who, in the early- to mid-eighteenth century broke away entirely from the Orthodox Church to embrace different forms of theology and practice. I differentiate them from “imported” Western Protestant sects such as Mennonites, Baptists, and Pentecostals because of their Russian origin; and from Old Believers, who considered themselves the true practitioners of Orthodoxy and did not challenge the authenticity and authority of the Eastern Church in its fundamentals. The religious beliefs and practices of these “sectarians” were distinct in many vital respects and my study is sensitive to variations in the experiences of each sect based on their religious faith. Nonetheless, they shared certain commonalities: complete and intense opposition to the Orthodox Church, refutation of the need for priests and hierarchies (or any other mediators in a relationship with God), belief in “spiritual” baptism rather than water baptism, and abjuration of all externalities such as icons, incense, and churches. ..."

The Subbotniks (PDF)
Article by Velvl Chernin published by The Rappaport Center for Assimilation Research and Strengthening Jewish Vitality, Bar Ilan University - Faculty of Jewish Studies, 2007
"The following survey is based on fieldwork conducted between the years 2003–2005. It relates only to Subbotnik converts to Rabbinic Judaism. Karaite Subbotniks {including Molokan Subbotniki}will be referred to only when in contact with Subbotnik converts.
Subbotnik Jews as a sub-ethnic group
Article by Velvl Chernin published on the Euro-Asian Congress web site on February 18, 2011 - The Israeli researcher Velvl Chernin reviews the current state of the communities that still exist in the post-Soviet space.
This article provides an update to the current status of Subbotniks following the five-part regional breakdown of the preceding article by the same author. This article contains a very extensive bibliography that should be useful to any one studying this religious sect.


Государевы вольнодумцы. Загадка Русского Средневековья,
В. Г. Смирнов, Москва, 2011 NEW! item added  April 28, 2014
Sovereign Freethinkers. A Riddle of the Russian Middle Ages,
by V. G. Smirnov, V.G. Moscow, 2011. 
Heresy "Judaizers" is considered one of the most mysterious phenomena of the Russian Middle Ages. Many historians have wondered how in such a purely Orthodox country -- Russia in the XV century -- could have a heretical movement that seized the highest circles of power, sow confusion in the hearts of ordinary people and culminating indicative executions in urban areas? Historian and writer Victor Smirnov tries to impartially understand this delicate episode of Russian history, where politics is closely linked up with religion.

A review of this book in Russian was posted on labrint.ru
"...Smirnov presented historical events clearly .. with many interesting details. ... the book has some serious shortcomings . Copyright biased, and ... moderately conservative. ... treats " Judaizers " .. as conspirators and over-throwers of Orthodoxy. The author is inclined to give his interpretation of events as fact. For example, the author writes in detail about the controversy of "non-possessors" and "Josephites" about church land at the Religious Council in 1503, while historians have reason to doubt that this controversy was real. Much of the book has extensive boring excerpts from the works of pre-revolutionary historians and primary sources. However, this book is like -- beauty is in the eye of the beholder.. ..."

Research by the Russian Scholar Aleksandr L'vov


E-mail from Dr. L'vov, June 1, 2005
Alexander L'vov specializes in research about the religion of Jews and Subbotniki at the Center for Jewish Studies, European University, St. Petersburg, Russia. Alexander’s web site: Researching the Russian Jew
“Dear Bill,“Thank you very much for your letter and your excellent web site. Recently I've found and downloaded a newspaper article about the village of Iudino (Siberia) and a short but interesting record about Privolnoye in the published letters (in the letter of 13.10.1985) of Galina Starovoytova, a famous Russian ethnologist and public figure (see attachments) [listed below]. They are from the database www.integrum.ru. And have you seen my paper Emigration of Judaizers to Palestine?“ All the best, Alexander”
  1. Iudino article: "Chosen place on a creek bank" 
  2. Galina Starovoytova letters (PDF, Russian)
Lvov
Sokha i Piaitiknizhie. Russkie Iudeistvuiushchie kak Tekstual`noe Soobshchestvo
(Russian summary page by the author)
A Wooden Plow and Pentateuch. The Russian Judaizers as the Textual Community
(English summary page by the author)
by Alexander L'vov, Publishing house of the European University at St. Petersburg, Russia 2011.
This monograph studies cultural traditions of Russian Judaizers (Subbotniks) in the second half of the 18th – 20th centuries. It describes the history of Old Russian sects, the Subbotniks as well as the Doukhobors and Molokans, and analyzes the role of textuality in Russian and Jewish cultures.

"The sects of Russian Subbotniks (Judaizers, spiritual Molokans, Talmudic and others) emerged in the mid-18th century, and from the very start, they were a real nightmare for bureaucrats in the Synod, and governmental agencies that took care of religious sects. Later, the Russian sects researchers had a lot of pain with them, too. Despite common religious practices of the Judaizers, this movement was devoid of any center, and management, and it quickly dissolved into many trends with their peculiar rites, and dogmas. Bureaucrats and researchers could not make sense of those weird sect members. Were they Russian with their Old Testament religion, or were they Jewish outside of the Judaic mainstream? Booknik reviewer Yevgeny Levin reads the monograph by Alexander Lvov, and tries to sort it out."

"There are many versions about the origin of Russian Judaizers. ..... L'vov come to the conclusion that all of these hypotheses seems to be wrong. The new religious movement arose spontaneously as a result of "talking about the divine" that the Russian peasants of the eighteenth century practiced in private homes. As a result of these discussions, some participants came to the denial of the New Testament and icons, and began to consider the Old Testament, the only divine "law,"

".... according to L'vov, there was another another important factor to encourage Russian Subbotniks to get closer to normative Judaism: Being a predominantly merchants and burghers, the Russian Jews had a higher social status than the Russian peasants. Moreover, Judaism, as opposed to "sects", admitted the State as a legitimate religion. So, in wanting to be "real Jews", Subbotniki, among other things, sought to improve their social status. "
Different, but not Quite

L'vov"Among the numerous cultural theories, there is this: In order to come closer to understanding the essence of culture is much more important to study its marginal manifestations, rather than mainstream. That is why the Eshkolot project with the support of AVI CHAI Foundation, studied three groups, at the fringes of Judaism (Spanish Marranos, Sabbatarians and Subbotniki). Alexandr L'vov discussed his experience and theories about the Subbotniki and with this project. His comments are summarized in a report on booknik.ru
"The Subbotnik movement emerged in the XVIII century, and, like many religious movements in Russia, owes its appearance to Peter I and Catherine II. It all started with an attempt of the religious education of the people.....So he launched mass production of religious and educational literature.... "
Strategies of Constructing a Group Identity: the Sectarian Community of the Subbotniki in the Staniza Novoprivolnaia
Article by Sergey Shtyrkov, Folklore, Vol 28, Dec. 2004, page 91
STAVROPOL, RUSSIA L'vov and Panchenko assist Shtyrkov with 14 hours of interviews with Subbotnik elders taped in September 2000. 300 Subbotniki resettled from Azerbaijan to this village where Molokans also live. They call themselves: "Subbotniki", "Russians of the Mosaic Law" or "people of the Mosaic Law", not Jews.
Jews and Subbotniks: History of impact and stereotypes of perception
Paper by A. L'vov, presented July 24, 2002, at the 7th European Association or Jewish Studies (EAJS) Congress:
"Jewish Studies and the European Academic World"
Abstract — My paper deals with a religious sect appeared in Russia at the end of the 18th — beginning of the 19th c.. Soon this sect was widespread among Russian peasantry. The sectarians were called ‘zhidovstvuyushchiye’ (Judaizers) or Subbotniks in different official documents. They identify themselves with Jews, seek to be in touch with Jews and to read the Jewish religious literature in Russian and in Hebrew. A few of the sectarians have been adopted by Jews, and a few of the sectarian congregations have preserved a specific ethno-religious identity: neither Russian nor Jewish. They consider themselves as pupils of Jews and many Jews came to Subbotniks’ communities as teachers. This sort of inter-ethnic relations looks like a Jewish messianic ideal, but in reality there are many difference between them. In particular the teachers of Subbotniks were those Jews who happened to come to Central Russia, not only Rabbis and devotees. The ideal model and real contact experience interaction have been reflected in some folklore texts collected during several expeditions in recent years. My investigation considers these texts in historical and ethnological perspectives.
Иудействовать и молоканить недозволено
или об особенностях народной герменевтики
Страница Александра Львова
Judaizers and Molokans are Unlawful or,
About the Features of the National
Germenevtiki
Article by Alexander L'vov —(To be translated from Russian.)
Геры и субботники — «талмудисты» и «караимы»  
Страница Александра Львова
Gery and Subbotniks — “Talmudists and Karaimy” (.pdf)
Article by Alexandr L’vov — (Translated from Russian.)
Русские иудействующие: проблемы, источники и методы исследования
  Страница Александра Львова
Russian Judaizers: Problems, sources and methods of research (rough English translation)
Article by Alexander L’vov 

Subbotniki Beliefs and Religious Practices in 19th Century Russia



Personal Reminiscences and Impressions of historian N. Kostomarov while exile in Saratov
as published in  The Russian Peasantry: Their Agrarian Condition, Social Life and Religion by S Stepniak, 1905
(See section starting on bottom of page 324}
" ... At last I was introduced ... to a Sabbatarian teacher ...In his religious views {he} was a strict Unitarian. He recognized in Jesus Christ a great prophet, a man inspired by God, as Isaiah and others had been. He believed in his miracles, and even in his resurrection, but emphatically rejected the dogma of his divinity. .... Of the Jewish law he recognized only the written one. The posterior superstructure of Judaism was exceedingly distasteful to him. He called the Talmud 'a collection of foolish ravings.' .... "
The Sabbatarians of Hungary  
by  W. Bacher, The Jewish Quarterly Review, July 1890
" ... {They} observe the Sabbath and had their children circumcised. The performance of Divine service, and the execution of other religious practices they entrusted to the oldest and most learned men selected from their own body. They deny the divinity of Christ, reject the belief of the Holy Ghost, recognize no saints, and condemn the reverence to images as idolatry. Their worship consists of readings the Bible and singing the Psalms. For purpose of public service they assemble in a dwelling-room, which they call "shool" (schola)......"
BIBLE: Russian and Ukrainian
Jewish Virtual Library
"The so-called Judaizing sects of the 15th century gave the strongest impetus to the codifications of the Bible. Adherents of the sects in Novgorod were in possession of a complete Russian Bible, and this moved the archbishop Gennadi to compare the texts of the Greek Orthodox Bible (Septuagint) with those of the Judaizers. .. Gennadi's great achievement was to produce, for the first time in the annals of Church Slavonic literature, a complete and unified text of the Bible unconnected with the liturgy of the Orthodox church. .. The first printed Psalter in Russian appeared in 1564–68. "

Holy Dissent: Jewish and Christian Mystics in Eastern Europe NEW! added  July 30, 2014
 By Glenn Dynner, 2011
" .... The Subbotniki, like Jews, await the arrival of the Messiah, who will collect all of them together in Palestine, where he will usher in his Jewish kingdom [tsarstvo], and himself be the tsar, making the rest of the people the slaves of the Jews. ... "

Miscellaneous References to Origins of the Subbotniki


The Sabbatarians of Hungary  
by  W. Bacher, The Jewish Quarterly Review, July 1890
"As regards the Russian Sabbath-observers, the so-called Sobotniki or Subbotniki, we have to depend for an account of their origin and present condition, on a few extremely scanty notices. They belong to the Russian sect, Molokane or Milk-drinkers, one of the various sects that arose, during the sixteenth century, in those provinces of Southern Russia which were at that time under the supremacy of the Polish crown, all of which sects displayed a Judaizing tendency, a marked leaning towards the Mosaic law. The Molokane, so runs the account given by a Russian chronicler,1...."

1 Quoted by Hermann Sternberg, History of the Jews in Poland (Leipzig, 1878), Ch. 23, from which most of the information here adduced from Russian and Polish sources is taken.
Judaizers
Encyclopedia Judica
"JUDAIZERS: persons who without being Jews follow in whole or in part the Jewish religion or claim to be Jews..... During the second half of the 18th century, sects of Judaizers and Sabbath observers appeared in the interior provinces of Russia, as well as in the Volga provinces and the northern Caucasus. Among the most prominent was the Molokan sect, which broke away from the Doukhobors. .....The government even emphasized, in special circulars issued by the ministry of the interior, that the Sabbath observers were not to be regarded as Jews, and that the special laws directed against the Jews did not apply to them."
The Ukrainian Stundists and Russian Jews: a collaboration of evangelical peasants with Jewish intellectuals in late imperial Russia
Paper by Sergei Zhuk (Ball State University) presented by at the 5th International Postgraduate Conference held at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, 2008
“A return to the Hebraic origins of the Christian faith and an emphasis on the Jewish roots of Christian theology was a prominent feature of the entire European Reformation. From medieval times Russian religious radicals shared the same interest in the Judaic religious background of the first Christian communities described in the book of the Acts of the Apostles. So-called ‘Judaizers’ (‘Zhidovstvuiushchie’) of medieval Russia emphasized the Judaic traditions of their Christian beliefs, including the celebration of the Sabbath rather than Christian Sunday. Later on, during the eighteenth century in central provinces of European Russia, their ideas and religious practices laid a foundation to the religious movement of ‘Subbotniki’ (‘Sabbatarians’), who changed their holiday from Sunday to Saturday, introduced circumcision and denied the universal authority of the Orthodox Church hierarchy..
Sekstanstvo (Sectarian) Bodies: Judaizing Sects 
A classification of sectarian bodies that appears on the The Byzantine Forum - Discussing the Christian East sponsored by the Byzantine Catholic Church in America.  posted on July 13, 2008.
Judaizing Sects describes the bodies that rejected trinitarianism and looked to the Old Testament for inspiration in formulating their dogma, doctrine, and praxis. .... While the labels attached to these sects suggest influence by Jews or an effort to turn their adherents toward Judaism, most adherents had little or no real-life exposure to the religious observances of the Jews, and, instead, relied on the Bible as a guidebook to craft a religious (and sometimes secular) lifestyle that was reminiscent of such. ... ”
A Crash Course on the Subbotniki
Article by Anne Herschman in Kulanu, Volume 9, Number 3, Autumn 2002, page 13. (PDF)
“...there are now about 10,000 to 15,000 Subbotniki left in the Former Soviet Union. Most of them are elderly and they are unfortunately a dying breed. There is a community that lives in Yitav, the Jordan valley (Israel), which has about 30 families. ... ”
Where Is the True Church? Information on Churches and Sectarianism
Part II: Sects and Heresies in Russia, by Bishop Alexander (Mileant)
Another secret sect was 'Jewish-like.' ... The preaching of Skaria attracted many people ... this sect was outlawed and its followers were scattered into various prisons. From surviving members of this sect grew a new sect under the name of "Saturday People." [who]... appeared in the 18th century; they celebrated Saturday, instead of Sunday and acknowledged only the Old Testament. Some even practiced circumcision according to Jewish tradition. Emperor Nicholas I banished them all to the Caucasus [sic] Mountain region."
Subbotniki
 By Herman Rosenthal, S. Hurwitz in
The Jewish Encyclopedia.com
Judaizing Heresy
 (zhidovstvu-yushchaya yeres)

By Kaufmann Kohler, and Herman Rosenthal in
The Jewish Encyclopedia.com
Judaizers
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
Subbotniks
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Judaizers
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia

The Sabbatarian Context


General Background Information on Sabbatarianism
The term Sabbatarian generally refers Christians who observe the Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday rather than Sunday and/or those who follow of the Mosaic laws and traditions as a dominant part of the group's religious practices and observances. This section of the Subbotniki Information Exchange web site is dedicated to exploring and understanding general information relating to Sabbatarianism in order to place the Subbotniki within this context.
The weekly Sabbath: is it to be Saturday or Sunday? From the ReligiousTolerance.org website managed by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance

Since the name or label given to the Subbotniki is derived from the Russian word for Saturday to highlight the difference in their observance of the Sabbath from the Russian Orthodox Church, this web article provides a useful background perspective on this distinguishing issue of religious observance.
" ...There appears to be no consensus on whether Jesus, his disciples, or apostles celebrated the Lord's Day on Sunday. There seems to be no internal evidence that would justify the Christian church changing the day from that commanded in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament).  However, in later centuries, moving from Saturday to Sunday certainly was beneficial if for no other reason than to improve the security of Christians by distancing Christianity from Judaism in the eyes of the government..."

5. Subbotniki Around the World

Armenia
  • Sevan (formerly know as Yelenovka)  [north shore of Lake Sevan, population 23 in 2001]

Highlanders - A Journey to the Caucasus in Quest of Memory
Book by Yo'av Karny, New York, 2000 

In Highlanders, Yo'av Karny offers a better understanding of a region described as a "museum of civilizations," where breathtaking landscapes join with an astounding human diversity. Karny has spent many months among members of some of the smallest ethnic groups on earth, all of them living in the grim shadow of an unhappy empire.

This journey included visits in 1992 and 1994 with the the Subbotniki community living in Yelenovka (now called Sevan), Armenia.
"They were all ethnic Russians, with Russian looks and Russian names, they spoke only Russian, and their prayer books were exclusively in Russian. The entire scene would have been indistinguishable from that of any other group of peasants gathered in a Russian Orthodox church on a Sunday – but not for the fact that the day was Saturday, and no crucifix or icons of Russian saints were to be seen, and the man and women prayed only to the father, never to the son."
The Last of the Saturday People
Article by Frank Brown, The Jerusalem Report. Nov. 19, 2001. pg. 72
Jews in Armenia:The Hidden Diaspora (PDF)
Thesis/article by Vartan Akchyan
Summary of page 83: “The People of the Sabbath” relocated in the 1730s from central Russia (Tambov, Saratov, and Voronezh) to build their own town of Yelenovka, now Sevan, on Lake Sevan. This was 100 years before Molokans and Doukhobors came. Their beliefs are based only on the Torah though they are ethnically and linguistically Russian. Ancestors had their own synagogue, rabbi, and prayer books which were translated from Hebrew to Russian. Their song melodies are similar to Molokan-Jumpers.”
Jews in Armenia: The Hidden Diaspora
Thesis/film by Vartan Akchyan 2002, DVD/video, 25 minutes, $46
History and existence of the Jewish community in Armenia. Made in the summer of 2001 in Armenia, Israel, and the US. — Includes 3.5 minutes of interviews and services with the Subbotnik congregation and leaders in Sevan, Armenia (formerly: Yelenovka village). Subtitles: English, Russian, Hebrew, Armenian, English
Small community in Armenia strives to preserve its heritage
"Round the Jewish World" article by Yasha Levine, JTA.  Sept 7, 2006.
SEVAN, Armenia — "Mikhail Zharkov, the 76-year-old leader of Armenia’s tiny Subbotnik community, says only 13* of the 30,000 people living in his small alpine town of Sevan are Subbotniks. There are three men and 10 women, and all are nearing the age of 80." [*Down from 23 in 2001, see above.]
Jewish? No, We’re Subbotniks. Welcome to Our Synagogue. Russian Sect Practices Judaism — In a Way   NEW! item added  July 12, 2014
By Maxim Edwards Published July 13, 2014 by The Jewish Daily Forward

".... The Russian language maintains the useful distinction between Evrei, ethnic Jews, and Judei, followers of Judaism, simplifying the complex identity of this religious community. Described as a “Judaizing Sect,” the Subbotniks (“Saturday people” in Russian) were Christian Russian peasants who dissented from Russian Orthodoxy and began to recognize Mosaic Law late in the 18th century, observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher and practicing circumcision....Scholar Nicholas Breyfogle noted the unusual situation whereby Jews, as members of a recognized — albeit repressed — religious minority, were allowed to maintain places of worship. But the Subbotniks, regarded as a heretical sect, saw their worship houses closed down regularly under czarist law forbidding the activities of such groups."   See Breyfolge's work referenced on this web page

" .... They {the Subbotniks} were joined there {Armenia} by two dissenting Christian groups with earlier origins — the Doukhobors and the Molokans...... A few thousand Molokans live in tight-knit agricultural communities in Armenia to this day, sharing their story of exile with the Subbotniks. 'On the Sabbath, our day of rest, the Molokans would bring us fresh milk,' one Subbotnik recalled. 'On Sunday we returned the favor.'....."

" .... 86-year old Maria Solovyova remembered well, when some 2,000 Subbotniks lived in Sevan. {during 1920's}.... {She} recognizes only Russian names for Jewish festivals: Purim is termed the Festival of Mordechai; Yom Kippur the Day of Forgiveness. Passover for Subbotniks was doubly significant — a communal reminiscence of their ancestors’ arduous journey to Armenia from Central Russia, as well as the Jews’ departure from Egypt. Hanukkah, however, is irrelevant. 'We never celebrated it,” Solovyova said. “The story of Hanukkah concerns ethnic Jews — and we are Russians. We are Subbotniki.'....”

Azerbaijan

  • Privolnoye & Navtlug [south], Kuba [north]




Expedition to Azerbaijan in June 1997
Article by V.A.Dymshits — Petersburg Judica.  Analysis of 2 Jewish-like villages in Azerbaijan — 1997

Improtex Travel - a private group tour operator in Azerbaijan offering ethnographic excursion in settlements of former Russian immigrants-sectarians: Chukhur Yurd, Hilmilli and Astrakhanovka / Gizmeydan / - Molokans, and also in Nagarakhana / Maryevka, Kirovka / - Subbotniks and baptists. 

Highlanders - A Journey to the Caucasus in Quest of Memory
Book by Yo'av Karny, New York, 2000  

In Highlanders, Yo'av Karny offers a better understanding of a region described as a "museum of civilizations," where breathtaking landscapes join with an astounding human diversity. Karny has spent many months among members of some of the smallest ethnic groups on earth, all of them living in the grim shadow of an unhappy empire.

This journey included a 1995 visit with the the Subbotniki community living in Privolnoye, Azerbaijan.

"The Subbotniks of the Caucasus were by no means a cohesive group. Having come to life spontaneously, they often evolved independently of each other, at times entirely unaware of each other’s existence. Accordingly, their degree of immersion in the new faith, or renunciation of the old varied. The Subbotniks of Yelenovka {Armenia – see above} remained staunchly Russian, and as a result were often confused with the Molokans or even referred to as a Molokan subgroup. Those of Privolnoye moved farther:  there the division was not between Subbotniks and Molokans but between Subbotniks and geyrim (Hebrew for “coverts’) – that is, Subbotniks who decided to go all the way to Judaism. Their embrace of Jewish law went beyond the Bible to include Talmudic law, and in some cases it led to emigration to Palestine. The geyrim I met, however, were Jewish only in a religious sense."


Село Привольное в нашей памяти (in Russian) Web site Links:
Privolnoye village as we remember it (Rough translation into English)
Includes personal video of a walk through the village of Privolnoye in 2007 including a visit to the cemetery/
Improtex Travel - a private group tour operator in Azerbaijan offering ethnographic excursion in settlements of former Russian immigrants-sectarians: Chukhur Yurd, Hilmilli and Astrakhanovka / Gizmeydan / - Molokans, and also in Nagarakhana / Maryevka, Kirovka / - Subbotniks and baptists. 

Strategies of Constructing a Group Identity: The Sectarian Community of The Subbotniki in the Staniza Novoprivolnaia by
Sergey Shtyrkov of Minsk, Belarus.  

The article appears as a PDF on the Estonian Folklore web site. The paper considers mechanisms of identity constructions based on field recordings made in 2000 with members of the Subbotniki community from Privolnoye and Navtlug, Azerbaijan after they emigrated and resettled in the Stavropol region of southern Russia.
"In the last decades of the 20th century some Subbotniki came back to Southern Russia and organised their communities in larger poly-confessional villages where they made up a minority. In these new circumstances the Subbotniki recognise their identity as an uncertain one regarding their ethnicity as well as religiosity – they are both Russian and Jewish, neither Russian nor Jewish. To escape this uncertainty Subbotniki try to find “others” who can confirm the particular identity of their group."


Belarus

  • Kosachevka, Rodion and Kostyukovka, Yekaterina: Two villages that were once in Belarus, Mogilovskaya Oblast, Klimovicheskiye Rayon. Now in Russia, Smolenskaya Oblast Roslavl Rayon.

The Ageyev Family
Web link contributed site by Ilan Guy (Ageyev), Ashdod, Israel
"I am a descendant of a Russian family who converted to Judaism in 1921 and moved to Palestine together with a few more families. I am very much interested to investigate the reasons and the events which made my grandfather Rodion Trafimovich Ageyev decide to make such a change in his life. I have created this Internet site which tells the story of my Russian family......"  {click link above to read more}

Researching Family History in Subbotniki Communities of Kemerovo or Bolotnoye, Russia
Brisbane, Queensland Australia — "My name is Olga Savina-Taylor.... I would love to ask anyone who knows any ... details about the Subbotniki community in Kemerovo, or in Bolotnoye please to let me know. Also any personal accounts on travelling through Kirghiz Steppes to reach Siberia would be much appreciated......{My grandfather's} name is Savin Elisey (or Elisei) Ivanovich. He was born .... very close to the Polish or Belorussian border. He came from a Subbotnik family." See full article for more details

The Kalmyk-Cossack Subbotniki: "The Khan's Warriors" convert while living in Belarus  
Contributed by Dror Vaikhansky, Mishmar Haemek, Israel    dvi@mh.org.il     November 2013
"My name is Dror Vaikhansky/Voikhansky, and I would like to know if you have heard about the Kalmyks who converted to Judaism in Belarus during the early 19th century? I am a descendant of such a Kalmyk family, and I think that their conversion was part of the phenomenon of the Subbotniks. I am in the midst of the investigation of this amazing story....." {click link above to read more}



Bulgaria

  • Tultscha
  • Silistria

The Sabbatarians of Hungary  
by  W. Bacher, The Jewish Quarterly Review, July 1890
"..It appears that during the persecutions of the first half of this century, numerous Subbotniki wended their way westwards and settled on the Bulgarian banks of the Danube. Dr. Bares, Imperial Ottoman Physician for Quarantine, writes from Tultscha,under date 29th May, 1869 (in Phillippsohn'As llgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums, 28th year, p. 398):

 'In the vicinity of Silistria live many Sobotniki, partly scattered, partly together in considerable numbers; here in Tultscha reside several families, who were formerly Sobotniki, but who have since become Jews. In their homes they use the Russian language, and they speak Jiidish-Deutsch very imperfectly. Most of their wives are born Jewesses (daughters of Jewish Poles), a few are born Sobotniki, who have embraced Judaism'"

France


Vichy Law and the Holocaust in France   
written by Richard H. Weisaberg in 1996.
{Vichy refers to the puppet government that administered the parts of France that were not formally occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II. The Vichy government attempted to follow some form of constitutional law when it came to determining who was to be considered Jewish for purposes of exclusion and eventual deportation. }
Four Subbotniki were living in France at the time of the start of World War II. The Vichy Council General on the Question of Jews (CGQJ) first had considered them to be Jews. A CGQJ official named Ditte maintained that
“...These little ‘Mosaic’ groups could not be distinguished one from the other, at least not in a manner convincing to his agency...”

A lawyer listed as LaPaulle represented the Subbotniks in an appeal to keep the Subbotniks from being considered Jews although they practiced the Jewish religion. In making his case, Lawyer LaPaulle cited the precedent of Russian law that had exempted Subbotniks from Soviet anti-Semitic measures although acknowledging that the group had "Judaizing tendencies.” His argument stressed the religious distinctions between Subbotniks and Jews. LaPaulle professed:

"....The best proof that Subbotniks are in no way a Mosaic sect is that they accept the New Testament, which is totally rejected by the Jewish religion....”

Georgia

  • Tbilisi (Tiflis) 

The Sabbatarians of Hungary  
by  W. Bacher, The Jewish Quarterly Review, July 1890
".... 1 Compare also a communication from B. Schewzik in 'he Jewish Chronicle of 5th April, 1889. In the Judisrtees Literaturblatt of Dr. Rahmer (1890, page 22). I found the notice that three hundred Sobotniki families live in Tiflis. capital of Georgia and Caucasus; they possess a beautiful synagogue,administered by a Rabbi named Krawcow..."

Iran (Persia)

  • Rahmatabad (to 1950)

Light Through the Shadows: The True Life Story of Michael Simonivitch Beitzakhar
Excerpts about Subbotniki and Molokans in Persia/Iran
Translated and Edited by Daniel V. Kubrock [from Beitzakhar's Russian manuscript] — 1953.

Israel

  • Beit Shemesh [20 miles west of Jerusalem]
  • Hula Valley (to 1980s) [south end, 10 miles north of Sea of Galilee, 2 miles west of Golan Heights]

  • Tel Adashim
  • Yesod Hama'alah (early 1900s) [Galilee]
  • Yitav [6 miles north of Jericho]











Russian Jews who don't drop out (PDF)  
Article by Carl Alpert in The New Jersey Jewish Standard— July 31, 1987
"In recent years only two out of every ten Jews leaving the Soviet Union  have been coming to Israel.  The remainder drop out at Vienna and proceed for the most part to the US. There is one exception to this.  The descendants of Russian converts to Judaism­ism, some of them third- or fourth- generation Jews, who succeed in getting out of Russia come straight to Israel - all of them. There has not been a single case drop-out, among the dozens who have reached this country, and all of them appear to have been absorbed and integrated successfully."
Cheese to Please
Article by Ava Carmel in The Jerusalem Post — Jerusalem, Aug 9, 1991
"Ten years ago the second generation moshavniks would never have imagined that one day they would be producing authentic French cheeses. Avi's grandparents, who came from Russia and Yemen, had the honor of being among the first "mixed" marriages in Israel. [Michal Brakin] is a physiotherapist, whose Subbotnik grandparents walked to the Holy Land from their native Russia, then converted to Judaism."
A time to remember: The Subbotniki of Russia (PDF)
Article by David C Gross in The Jewish Week — NY, Aug. 23-29, 1991
"Among the hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews who have immigrated to Israel in recent years are a purportedly tiny number of descendants of the Subbotniki, a sect of Russians dating back to the 18th century....Some Subbotniki a century ago joined the early Zionist pioneers in Galilee colonies; over time they were completely absorbed by the Jewish  population. Probably the same thing will happen to the new Subbotniki arrivals in modem Israel."
An Early Russian Immigrants' Farm: Subbotniks Brave Malaria in Hila Swamp
Article by Aviva Bar-Am in The Jerusalem Post — Jerusalem, Sept. 26, 1991
Rejected
Article by Yossi Klein Halevi in The Jerusalem Report — Aug. 21, 1997
Subbotniks were hated and beaten in Russia, but after moving to Israel their Jewishness was questioned.
Abandoned in the Jordan Valley
Article by Ari Ben Goldberg in The Jerusalem Report.— Nov. 19, 2001
Subbotniki were moved from Russia to Israel and placed in the West Bank where the Palestinians hate them and they get no help from the Israeli government.
The Dubrovin Farm: The Subbotniks
Gems in Israel: Spotlighting Israel's Lesser Known Tourist Attractions and Travel Sites, the Gems April/May 2000. Map
SOHULA VALLEY — “The Dubrovin family came .. from the Astrakhan region of Russia in the early 1900's. They were Subbotniks (Hebrew: sobotnikim) ... After their conversion, they took Hebrew names; ...Yo'av and his wife, Rachel. They dug a well, began farming the land and were quite successful, ... most of their children succumbed to malaria from the nearby Hula swamps. ... Yo av, was 104 at the time of his death — and the family never left the site. The last family member to live on the farm, Yitzhak, gave the farm to the Jewish National Fund, which restored the site and opened it as a tourist attraction [in 1986]. There is a reconstruction of the Dubrovin's living rooms, kitchen, ... An audiovisual program in English. ... a working potter, a blacksmith display and a non-kosher restaurant, ...”
Joyce Bivin, a Molokan-Armenian who lives in Israel reports:
“Around the 1920's, a group of Subbotnikim came to Israel [from Russia] and settled in the Hula Valley.” This is the farm of one family.
She also says:
“Years ago when I shopped at a certain supermarket, nearly all the cashiers were Russian and lived in Beit Shemesh (...30 minutes west of Jerusalem). I asked one of the girls if they knew about the Molokans (some have vague ideas) and after I described who they were, she said there were a group of Subbotnikim living in Beit Shemesh and described them having blond hair (why that was unusual, I don't know as most of the Russian immigrants are blond anyway). I was very excited to hear this but never followed up not knowing which section of Beit Shemesh they lived. ... I'll start asking again.”
Israel takes up the repatriation of "Subbotniks"  News agency Cursor: News of day — Mar. 22, 2005
Израиль приступает к репатриации «субботников»  Информационное агентство Cursor: Новости дня — Обновлено 22.03

20 Subbotnik families from Vysokij will be "repatriated" by Israel according to Michael Freund

               * Vysokij is a vilage in Voronezh Oblast, Russia and is highlied in a separate Vysokij section below.
Saving Russia’s Subbotnik Jews
Jewish World — May 22, 2005:
"Over a dozen Subbotnik Jews from Vysokij, Voronezh] moved to Israel last month and settled in the Beit Shemesh area outside of Jerusalem."
 
Panel: Bring in 10,000 Subbotniks
Article by Nina Gilbert in The Jerusalem Post — June 21, 2005
Members of the Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee called on Interior Minister Ophir Paz-Pines on Monday to use his authority to allow into the country some 10,000 "Subbotniks"
Russia's New Refuseniks Blog entry on Think-Israel Blog-eds Posted by Michael Freund, October 3, 2007
The Plight of SubbotniksJewish Russian Telegram, November 25, 2008
The Jews left behind in Russia Thousands of Subbotnik Jews being refused permission to move to Israel by Michael Freund Nov 27, 2008 in Israel Opinion
"Nearly 20 years may have passed since the fall of the Iron Curtain, but it appears that there are still plenty of people who would like to continue to apply some of the more dubious policies employed by the Soviets. Throughout Russia, there are thousands of Subbotnik Jews being refused permission to make Aliya. Only this time, it is none other than the government of Israel that is refusing to permit them to immigrate."

Retracing the journey of Russian Jewish converts to Israel  Article by Eli Ashenazi appearing on Haaretz.com on January 30, 2012 
Descendants of a group of Russian Christians who converted to Judaism and immigrated to Israel 110 years ago remember their ancestors' path.
"In September Stepman-Shmueli organized a meeting of about 100 descendants of Subbotniks from the Russian village of Solodniki*. Since then they have begun to plan a journey to the village from which the "Kurakin convoy" set out for Israel, leaving behind its Christian past, devoutly adopting Judaism and moving to a new country. Now, after many years "which were characterized mainly by silence about the past," according to Stepman-Shmueli and her partner in the project Eitan Kurakin, "a strong longing has awakened to return to the village and to see where it all began."
* Solodniki is a town belonging to the community of Astrakhanskaya Oblast, Russia
Landver: Russia’s Subbotnik community should make aliya   NEW! added  April 4, 2014
Article by Sam Sokol appearing in the The Jerusalem Post - March 10, 2014. Link submitted by Gavin Archard who lives in Israel.
"Immigration and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver pledged to promote the aliyah of members of the Russian Subbotnik community during an interview with Israel Radio on Sunday. .... Landver’s words come on the heels of a similar statement by Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, who told attendees at last month’s Ashdod Aliya Conference that 'the State of Israel must hold its doors open to those who wish to join the Jewish people.'"


Fundamentally Freund: Here come the Subbotnik Jews Article by Michael Fruend, The Jerusalem Post, March 10, 2014  NEW! added  April 10, 2014

Poland


The Sabbatarians of Hungary  
by  W. Bacher, The Jewish Quarterly Review, July 1890
"As regards the Russian Sabbath-observers, the so-called Sobotniki or Subbotniki, we have to depend for an account of their origin and present condition, on a few extremely scanty notices. They belong to the Russian sect, Molokane or Milk-drinkers, one of the various sects that arose, during the sixteenth century, in those provinces of Southern Russia which were at that time under the supremacy of the Polish crown, all of which sects displayed a Judaizing tendency, a marked leaning towards the Mosaic law. The Molokane, so runs the account given by a Russian chronicler,1...."

1 Quoted by Hermann Sternberg, History of the Jews in Poland (Leipzig, 1878), Ch. 23, from which most of the information here adduced from Russian and Polish sources is taken.
The Jewish Community in Subotniki
by Kazimierz Niechwiadowicz translated by Jan Sekta

Russia

  • Bondarevo / Iudino [Khakassia, 1800s]
    Borisogleb Raion
    [Voronezh, 1964]
  • Essentuki and Prohlodnensk [Caucasus before WWII]
  • Staniza Novoprivolnaia [population: 300, Stavropol' territory]
  • Rasskazovo and Michurinsk [Tambov, 1959]
  • Staraia Zima [Siberia before WWII]












History of Religious Sectarianism in Russia (1860s-1917),
A. I. Klibanov. 1966. (translated 1979)
"The population of was primarily sectarian — Molokan, Subbotnik, and Kristovover — and this village had a reputation of being 'the sectarian capitol'." (pages 397-8) "My encounter with Subbotniki in Rasskazovo Raion of Tambov Oblast during 1959 and in Borisogleb Raion of Voronezh Oblast during 1964 confirmed my opinion that we are dealing with followers of Judaism who give primary importance to its rituals and customary side." (page 46)
Субботники (Иудействующие)  Added Sept. 27, 2005
Авраам Шмулевич, Марк Кипнис — КЕЭ, том 8, колонка 635-639
(To be translated from Russian.)
Современное Состояние Сектантства в Советской России,
English: A modern Condition of Sectarianism in the Soviet Russia,
Н.А. Струве. ("Вестник РСХД", 1960 г.)  (To be translated from Russian.) by N.A.Struve. (Bulletin RSHD, 1960); translated in Religion in the USSR, Munich, July 1960, Series 1, No. 59
Before WWII Subbotnik worship was marked in Siberia (Staraia Zima), in the Caucasus (Essentuki, Prohlodnensk) and in the Western Kazakhstan. Subbotniki exist in a small numbers in Tambovschina (30 in the city of Rasskazov, 15 in Michurinsk). The number of Subbotniki was not great before the Revolution (37,173 in 1900).

ASTRAKHAN OBLAST (PROVINCE)
  • Astrakhan', Golossov (1918)
  • Astrakhan', Liman [north shore of Caspian Sea]
  • Aleksandrov, Astrakhan guberniya (1810's)
Jewish community of Astrakhan
FJC—The Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS
ASTRAKHAN, RUSSIA — “... a large group of Gers ... Molokan Subbotniks... who .. came to adopt Jewish practices ...converted to Judaism. ... The Gers owned a mill and lived prosperously ... By 1880, there were ... about 2000 Gers. In 1905, Gers established a prayer house and a mikvah. ... In the late 1940s, many Gers suffered from the state repression and their prayer house was closed in the 1950s. The Gers reside in the village of Liman until this very day and sometimes visit the Ashkenazi Synagogue. Despite their relative poverty, they always bring gifts for the synagogue. ..”
Hebrews of the Russian Steppes   
Article by Eliezer Schindler in the United Israel World Bulletin, Union, NY Mar-Apr, 1947. The writer of this article, Eliezer Schindler, while a prisoner­ of war during the first World War, came in close con­tact with many converts to Judaism of the Kirghiz Steppes in whose midst he spent the greater part of his forty months in Russia.
"The majority ... reside in the Kirghiz-Steppes along the banks of the Volga and the Caspian Sea. ... steppes of the Saratov-Astrakhan provinces. ... the Caucasus and in Siberia. Nearly all ... are agriculturists, smiths, carpenters and plumbers. Only a few are merchants and traders."
From Astrakhan to Galilee, by Yoav Regev, published in Hebrew by Ahiasaf, 2009 

KurakinA review of this book A review of this book appeared on booknik.ru (no longer available online)

"One day in September 1997, Israeli news began with a terrible message. During the operation, Marines in Lebanon, IDF, Israeli commandos approached the subject of terrorists, "Hezbollah", hit a minefield. In the explosion and died in a shootout twelve men, including commander of the operation, Colonel Yossi Kurakin. The unusual name of the officer who had displayed in his last fight exceptional heroism, has attracted worldwide attention. It quickly became clear that Kurakin - comes from a family of Russian Subbotniks who joined the Jewish people, and moved to Eretz Yisrael more than a hundred years ago."

Of the 29 first families in Galilee, four were Gere families (among them part of the family Kurakins) in Beit-Gan lived thirteen representatives of Russian families (the other branch Kurakins, Nekrasov, Egorova, Filippova, Sazonova, Grodnyanskie, Dubrovin and others); .... They were known as hardworking, stubborn in a good and brave people. ..... But the main thing - to realize the dream of the old Kurakin: he and his descendants have become part of the Jewish people.."
The Kalmyk-Cossack Subbotniki from Astrakhan: "The Khan's Warriors" convert while living in Belarus  NEW! item added  December 27, 2013
Contributed by Dror Vaikhansky, Mishmar Haemek, Israel       
"My name is Dror Vaikhansky/Voikhansky, and I would like to know if you have heard about the Kalmyks who converted to Judaism in Belarus during the early 19th century? I am a descendant of such a Kalmyk family, and I think that their conversion was part of the phenomenon of the Subbotniks. I am in the midst of the investigation of this amazing story....." {click link above to read more}


The Historical Parameters of Russian Religious Toleration  Paper by Dr. Nicholas B. Breyfogle, Professor of History, Ohio State University for The National council for East European Research - July 27, 2001    NEW! added  April 13, 2014
"......The case of Subbotniks living in the town of Aleksandrov, Astrakhan guberniya, in the early 1810s reflects the legal and social problems of multi-confessional living. Half of the merchants and lower-middle-class townspeople in Aleksandrov were Subbotniks. The Caucasian provincial administration complained in the 1810s that because they held to the law of Moses, the Subbotniks “refused to fulfill community duties on Saturdays, such as the transport t of state provisions, the sending of convicts in stocks, the giving of wagons, etc.,” and refused to swear oaths of allegiance to the Tsar."

SIBERIA & RUSSIAN FAR EAST
  • Bondarevo / Iudino [Khakassia, 1800s]  Subbotniki founded Iudino village (now Bondarev), Khakassia territory. In about 1800s settlers from Voronezh, including the most famous Subbotnik: Timofei M. Bondarev who wrote a book, corresponded with Tolstoy, and was honored with the village name and in 2005 with a monument.
  • Staraia Zima [Siberia before WWII]
Святая, как хлеб, деревенька моя: К 80-летию Бейского района и 175-летию села Бондарево
ХАКАСИЯ Республиканская газета

My village is sacred as bread: On the 80th anniversary of Beisk region and 175th anniversary of Bondarev village (English translation)
KHAKASIYA Republic Newspaper, Feb. 2004
Избранное место на берегу речки
Красноярсий рабочий ; 27.02.2004 ; 36 ; Нина БОГДАНОВА.

Chosen place on a creek bank (English translation)
by Nina Bogdanova, The Krasnoyar Worker, 27 Feb. 2004, page 36
Bondarev and Tolstoy Excerpts from: Leo Tolstoy and the Canadian Doukhobors: an historical relationship,
by Andrew Donskov, University of Ottawa, 2005
" .... The text of Tolstoy′s treatise Tak chto zhe nam delat′? [What then must be done?] (1886) includes a powerful call for moral regeneration. He wrote:
'Over my whole lifetime two Russian thinking people had a profound moral influence on me; they enriched my thought and clarified my world-view. These people were not Russian poets, scholars or preachers — they were two remarkable men who are still alive today, having lived their whole lives by the sweat of their brow — the peasants Sjutaev and Bondarev.'.
..... It is also significant that the two peasants mentioned were both sectarians: Vasilij K. Sjutaev (1820—1892) was well known to Tolstoy and contemporary writers, while Timofej M. Bondarev (1820—1898), who belonged to the Sabbatarians (a splinter group of the Molokans, which had earlier broken away from the Doukhobors) carried on an extensive correspondence with Tolstoy from 1885 until his death in 1898."
Юлия Улыбина, СМ Номер один, Иркутск, №22 от 9 июня 2005 года
(Link contributed by Sergey Petrov - Dept. of Religious Studies, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada in Mar. 2006.)

The Subbotniks of Zima want to emigrate to Israel  (English translation by WAA)
by Julia Ulybina,  The Newspaper "SM Number one", Irkutsk, June, 9th, 2005
... representatives were directed to Zima with the mission to find out what relationship Subbotniks there have to Judaism and how they observe Judaic traditions.....Irahmielju Nemzer, a participant in the expedition, does not know what conclusions were made by the Jewish Agency. However from her understanding of religious law, it was not possible to prove that these Subbotniks are a part of Judaism.
В селе Бондарево Бейского района состоялось открытие памятника Тимофею Бондареву
Москва, 06 октября 2005, НИА-Хакасия

Dedication of a monument to Timofei Bondarev took place in Bondarev village, Beisk region  (English translation) Moscow, 6 October 2005, NIA-Khakasiia
Толстой и Иудино, Илбек Хакасстан — 27 Май 2009 (4 письма Толстого к Bonderev и 10 заметок) 

Tolstoy and Iudino, By Ilbek Hakasstan — May 27, 2009 (4 letters from Tolstoi to Bonderev and 10 notes
Researching Family History in Subbotniki Communities of Kemerovo or Bolotnoye, Russia
Brisbane, Queensland Australia — "My name is Olga Savina-Taylor.... I would love to ask anyone who knows any ... details about the Subbotniki community in Kemerovo, or in Bolotnoye please to let me know. Also any personal accounts on travelling through Kirghiz Steppes to reach Siberia would be much appreciated......" See full article for more details

Политические репрессии в Аскизском районе Хакасии (1920-1950) 7. «Иудинское дело»  NEW! added  June 7, 2014
From the Krasnoyarsk Memorial Society, Russian Federation (memorial.krsk.ru)
Political repression in Askizsky district, Khakassya (1920 – 1950) 7. "The Iudino case":  Subbotnik prisoners during Soviet times
Translation  by Andrei Conovaloff, 1 June 2014 (Google document)

" .... The Assistant Attorney General of Krasnoyarsk (krai) Territory supported the accusations ... while the defenders... are 12 men who are active and irreconcilable enemies of the socialist system. One of them is a bandit, and all the others are kulaks. All 12 men are sectarians of the 'subbotnik' sect. ..."

" .....E.D. Bogdanov (a collective farm shepherd, had 4 children from 1 to 17 years old) was charged with  'spreading anti-Soviet propaganda in the form of counter-revolutionary limericks (chastushki) in most obscene and offensive manner against the leaders of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) and the Soviet government.'...."

История села Бондарево   Использована работа Байкаловой Н.И. (ученицы Бондаревской СОШ)     NEW! added  June 20, 2014  
History of Bondarevo village   From work by N. I. Baikalova (a student at Bondarevo School)
- Translaton in Progress.  
Contributed by Andrei Conovalov, June 2014
Бондарев Тимофей Михайлович - Сибирский философ и просветитель.    NEW! added  June 20, 2014  
Kalmyk proselyte women living with Jewish husbands in Russian Siberia - Information and links provided by Kevin Brook  NEW! added  August 7, 2014

Editor's note
:  Although there is no data to substaitiate the extension of this phenomenom to other religious exiles, it may indeed be applicable to Subbotniks, Molokans and other sectarian males who found themselves in similar circumstances while living in Siberia.

Eastern Siberia
Article by Anna E. Peck on page 241 of The Modern Encyclopedia of Religions in Russia and the Soviet Union, Volume 7 edited by Paul D. Steeves, Academic International Press, 1997
"As with many other minority religious groups, there was a surplus of males in the population. This created legal and religious problems regarding the creation of families. In 1817 the governor general of Siberia, Ivan Pestel, received approval from Petersburg to permit the importation of non-Christian women from Asian frontier countries and to allow their conversion to Judaism so that they could become wives of Jewish men. In practice it was mostly Kalmuk women who were bought, converted, and married."

Siberia

Article in Encyclopaedia Judaica (2008 edition) by Yehuda Slutsky,
"Since Siberia was outside the *Pale of Settlement, convicts continued to constitute the main Jewish element settling there throughout the 19th century. Due to the scarcity of Jewish women in Siberia at the beginning of the 19th century, Jews were allowed in 1817 to buy Kalmyk women, to make proselytes of them and marry them...."
Article by Irena Vladimirsky,
"In April 1817, the government issued a special decree by which all the new inhabitants of Siberia, including Jews, were permitted to marry women from the native population on the condition that they converted to either Christianity or Judaism. ...."
The Jews in Siberia and the Far East
Article by Michael Evensky, in The Jewish Forum - Volume 4 - 1921 - pages 985-989
"We find that in 1825, the Jews who lived in Kansk (Western Siberia) petitioned the government for permission to build a synagogue. In the same year another, rather curious, petition, was submitted by the Jews of Kansk, who owing to the lack of Jewish women, pleaded for permission to convert Calmuk Women to Judaism, so that they could marry according to Mosaic law. This request was granted...."

"...A very special contingent of Jewish settler is the so called Subotniki, a sect of real Russians who had been converted to Judaism as a result of their careful study of the Bible. These sturdy peasants became real martyrs of their convictions. The official Russian Church persecuted them, but they, like true Jews, endured all hardships f0r the sake of their new Faith. Ultimately in the year 1800, they were banished into Eastern Siberia where they are concentrated along the present Trans-Siberian Railroad, in the province of Irkursk. Their main settlement in at Zima...."

For more information aboiut the background and tracking of the genetic legacy of these mixed marriages in the Askennazic Jewish populations see Kevin Brook's web pages"


VOLGOGRAD, RUSSIA
Volgograd Region [Leninsk, Primorsk, Tsarev, Zaplavnoye]
Субботний исход: В начале прошлого века жители Заплавного, Царева и Ленинска уходили в Палестину, недела городa, 16 декабря 2004
(Link contributed by Sergey Petrov — Dept. of Religious Studies, Univ. of Calgary, Alberta, Canada in Mar. 2006. Annotated map site contributed by Ilan Guy (Ageyev), Ashdod, Israel)  (Original site no longer available; Translation in-progress)
The Saturday Outcome:  Article in Nedelya-Gorodo Newspaper, Dec. 14, 2004
In the beginning of the last century inhabitants Zaplavnogo, Tsareva and Leninsk in the Volgograd region emigrated to Palestine where the Messiah was expected soon.
What is happening in Misrad ha Pnim (again)? 
Blog by Paul about previous article, Feb. 17, 2005
"..the Ministry's attitude on this issue puzzling. It raises, of course, the philosophical-ideological question of the attitude of the Jewish people and of the State of Israel to not-quite-Jews who really, really, want to be part of our nation, our people and our religion ..."
VORONEZH PROVINCE - ILYINKA, RUSSIA
Ilyinka [population 100, Voronezh province, 1991]
The Last Jews of Ilyinka
The Jerusalem Report — Feb. 14, 1991
VORONEZH, RUSSIA "...about 100 mostly elderly Jewish residents; within a decade, only the graves will remain of this unusual Jewish community." Maps added

Daas Torah - an online forum to clarify some of the issues of Jewish Identity.
Subbotnik Jews of Ilyinka are Jews  
The particular forum thread started on February 11, 2009 explores pro and counter arguments to the principle that all Russian Subbotniki are Jewish and therefore deserve to right to emigrate to Israel. Some sample comments:
"......I humbly suggest that in light of this, your headline to the effect that "Subbotniks are not Jewish" warrants correction."

......If some Subbotnik's aren't Jewish, such as those in Vyskoij, and some Subbotnik's might be Jewish, such as the Jews of Ilyinka, then clearly Subbotnik is not a term that implies Jewishness."

.... Subbotniks is to general a term, since there are different groups of Subbotniks. So the title should read "Some/most/many Subbotniks are not Jewish" or something along those lines..."

VORONEZH PROVINCE - VYSOKIJ, RUSSIA
Vysokij or Высокий  (meaning “tall” or "high") is a village in the Talovskij district of Voronezh province of Russia. The village is located 700 km south of Moscow (See Google map). Vysokij has a population of around 7,000 and is the home of a Subbotniki congregation. The city’s name has also been written in English as Vysokii, Vyshoi or Vysokiy.

Путешествие в Высокий
  NEW! item added  August 3, 2014
От Раисы Минаковой, Под редакцией Билла Алдакушина 
Journey to Vysókij
Contributed by Raisa Minakova (Kaliningrad, Russia), edited by Bill Aldacushion (Fairfax County, Virginia, USA), August 2014

VillageBrief Family History and three Photo Albums taken during Raisa's journeys to the village of Vysokij and visits with her friends and family living there.
  1. Йом-Кипур  / Yom Kippur
  2. Деревенские сцены / Village Scenes (including cemetery)
  3. Музей истории / History Museum

The Forsaken Converts of Russia 
 
An account of a visit with the Subbotniki in Vysokij by Eli Bardenstein, Ma'ariv (Sof-shavua Weekend Supplement), November 28, 2008 


"..Vysoki was not like other villages. On a wooden gate at the end of the village, a light blue Star of David was emblazoned. Behind it were buried Jewish villagers. On a portion of the gravestones, some of them very old, a Star of David was engraved, and in some cases there were even Hebrew letters. On every Sabbath and Jewish holiday and sometimes on Mondays and Thursdays as well – the days on which the Torah is read – small minyans (quorums of ten required for group prayer) still take place with old people wrapped in prayer shawls. The only Sefer Torah (Torah scroll) that remains in the village was at the center of the last Simchat Torah holiday celebration. On the doorposts of some of the homes Mezuzahs are affixed, containing ancient pieces of parchment. On the “Tenth Day”, as Yom Kippur is known in the village, most of the older residents still fast. Several years ago, they would bake matzah for Passover and no bread would come into the village during the holiday. ..."

Израильского раввина послали учить субботников
     
An Israeli rabbi has been sent to {Russia} to learn about Subbotniki
            (link to rough English translation) Article appearing on izrus.com web site Dec. 17, 2008
"Rabbi David Vinnits from Jerusalem – the new representative of the organisation "Shavej Israel" in Russia: he will conduct work with Subbotniki in settlement Vysokij in the south of the country. He has been the rabbi of the city of Irkutsk and all Eastern Siberia and worked as the assistant at Judaism Institute."
Russia's Subbotnik Jews get rabbi Article appearing on Ynetnews.com on December 9, 2010
"Rabbi Shlomo Zelig Avrasin 's mission to focus primarily on community of Vyskoij in southern Russia, to include teaching Hebrew and Judaism, organizing prayer services and conducting range of diverse educational activities for Jewish youth"

Cleaning a Jewish Cemetery in Southern Ruussia   Article by Brian Blum, May 29, 2012  
"Every year, on the Jewish holiday of L’ag B’Omer, the Subbotnik Jews of Vyskoij, Russia, have a tradition to clean up the local Jewish cemetery."

A Subbotnik Jewish wedding in Moscow by Brian Blum, November 11, 2012
"As they stood under the wedding canopy in the Archipova synagogue in Moscow, Fania and Shmuel Bograshov were fulfilling a dream they have cherished for years. It’s not the first time they’ve been married. But it is their first time in a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony. .... Fania and Shmuel are Subbotnik Jews from Vyskoij, a central town in southern Russia....."
Subbotnik Jews make aliya Article and video appearing on Ynetnews.com on November 21, 2013  
"Their forefathers, who were Christian peasants, embraced Judaism some 200 years ago, and they have stuck to it to this very day. Now, two of 500 members of Subbotnik community from village of Vyskoij in southern Russia decide to immigrate to Promised Land"
    

Ukraine


The Ukrainian Stundists and Russian Jews: a collaboration of evangelical peasants with Jewish intellectuals in late imperial Russia
Paper by Sergei Zhuk (Ball State University) presented by at the 5th International Postgraduate Conference held at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, 2008
“...At the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries, the Subbotniki movement spread to the south, to the new regions of Russian colonisation in southern Ukraine and northern Caucasus, where their ideas of ‘Moses law’ and ‘Hebrew rituals’ affected local Molokans and other religious dissenters. .....Some Molokans in Ukraine accepted Sabbatarian religious practices, which transformed the entire Molokan movement..."

Subbotniki carrying out 'good works' in Transcarpathia Article by Bonne A. Rook, The Journal - News of the Churches of God,  May, 2004   NEW! added  April 10, 2014
....The Subbotniki keep all the Ten Commandments, including the Fourth, and hold to the faith of Abraham, the father of all faithful. .... Some Subbotniki live in Transcarpathia, a region in the southwest of Ukraine. They have lived there since centuries before the Protestant Reformation and have practiced their faith under severe hardships..... With the breakup of the Soviet Union, their situation changed from suppression to allowance and--in the small town of Vynogradow, not far from the border with Hungary and Romania--even to acceptance and respect. This is because of their good works."

Uruguay


Russians in Uruguay
Since 1900 hundreds of thousands of Russians fled their homeland and resettled around the world. Many were members of religious groups that rejected the official Orthodox faith and were harassed and punished. This is a summary index of the ethno-religious groups that relocated to Uruguay from Russia — New Israel, Molokans, Jumpers (Maksimists), Sabbatarians, Sons of Freedom, Old Believers, and German Mennonite Brethren. Each has separate villages and religions.

Uzbekistan

  • Kibrai district, Tashkent region

UZBEKISTAN: Believers are not even allowed to visit each other 
Article by Igor Rotar, Forum 18 News Service — Oct. 27, 2005
"The Subbotniki live in the Kibrai district of Tashkent region [capital of Uzbekistan], 15 kilometers (10 miles) north-east of the capital, and every week police come to community members and warn them that it is illegal to hold meetings in private apartments. On 9 August [2005] the police even forbade the Subbotniki from holding a religious ritual for one of the community's members who had just died."

Note from John Kinahan, Assistant Editor, Oslo, Norway:
"We are a Christian web and e-mail initiative to report on threats and actions against the religious freedom of all people, whatever their religious affiliation, in an objective, truthful and timely manner. The name Forum 18 comes from Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and we are based in Oslo, Norway. We have been mainly concentrating up to now on the states of the former Soviet Union... I would be happy to arrange for you to receive our weekly e-mail news summary every Friday."

6. Other Subbotniki-related Websites


Subbotniks on English version of Wikipedia.com

Subbotniks on French version of Wikipedia.com

Russian History Encyclopedia: Judaizers on Answers.com

7. Contact Information


NOTE: The views represented by the content of external links contained or referenced on this web site are not necessarily those of the Subbotniki.net web site coordinators but are included only to present the wide range of views surrounding the Subbotniki so that all this information can be viewed in context.

William A. Aldacushion
Fairfax County, Virginia  USA
baldacus@gmail.com