11 Jan New video explains “Who are the Subbotnik Jews?”
Who are the Subbotnik Jews? A new video produced by Shavei Israel describes the fascinating history of this special Jewish community that lives primarily in southern Russia and Siberia, along with a smaller group who have made aliyah to Israel and reside in the town of Beit Shemesh.
The video gives background on the community and introduces some of the Subbotnik Jewish community members of Beit Shemesh, such as Vitaly Grigorenko, who only discovered he was Jewish when he was 12-years-old. (His parents feared what would happen to them in Communist Russia if their “comrades” knew the family was Jewish; they subsequently immigrated to Israel.) The video also includes footage from the dedication of a new Torah scroll in the town of Visoky, the spiritual center for the Subbotnik Jewish community in Russia.
The Subbotnik Jews were farmers and 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. There are up to 20,000 Subbotnik Jews still in Russia, from Siberia to Azerbaijan, as well as in Ukraine.
Watch the full video on our YouTube channel.