Subbotnik Jews

The Subbotniks were peasants in southern Russia who embraced Jewish practice and converted to Judaism more than 200 years ago under the Czarist regime.

They were referred to by the term “Subbotniks” because of their love of the Subbot, which is Russian for Sabbath.

In the early 19th century, Czar Alexander I expelled them from their homes and deported them to the far reaches of the empire as punishment for their adoption of Judaism.

They were later ruthlessly persecuted by the Communists, and thousands of them were murdered by the Germans after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in World War II.

There are still an estimated 15,000 Subbotnik Jews living primarily in southern Russia and in Siberia, most of whom wish to return to the traditions of their ancestors and emigrate to Israel.