Pavel Kzanichev (Zanin)

Pavel Kzanichev (Zanin)

Rabbi David Winitz Interviews Pavel Kzanichev (Zanin)

“Welcome everybody!”
“We are speaking with Pavel Kzanichev (Zanin) who is also a Subbotnik and lives in Zima.


“Pavel, please tell me and our friends in Jerusalem about your life, your history and that of your father and grandfather.”

Pavel: “The Subbotniks came to Zima during the 19th century from Russia’s central areas.”
Pavel’s father is Jewish but his mother is a Subbotnik. The Subbotniks, as he says repeatedly, were sent to Siberia from Central Russia.”

Pavel corrects himself and says, “My mother’s grandmother did not come from Central Russia but came from the Ukraine, from the Podove region. She met her husband, who was Jewish, when he travelled there on a mission.


Pavel relates that his maternal grandparents were not sent to Siberia but came here of their own free will because there, in Podove, people would not let them live, they objected to their marriage. Because of that, they left Podove and travelled to Siberia. They sought a new life in a new place in order to live [as they chose].

They arrived in Zima at the end of the 19th century; lived there and had their first-born, whom they named David.

Pavel relates that his maternal grandmother came from a rich family. His maternal grandfather worked there as a hired hand. That is how they met. The family objected to their marriage. Because of that, they almost fled from Podove to Siberia.

Pavel relates, “On my father’s side was a man they called Daniel. During the reign Czar Alexander I, he was an officer in the Czar’s army and therefore received a parcel of land. He established a “Zainka” near Zima by the name of Sanimo because his family name was Sanim. Pavel relates that Daniel was probably a “Camphanist [Cantonist],” because he said they called him ‘Jew’, what is known as a “Kishunk.” That is to say, he was circumcised, so therefore, he was a “Kamphanist [Cantonist].”

Pavel’s brothers’ names were, Matityahu and Jacob. All their names were Jewish ones.

Pavel’s father passed away when Pavel was quite young. For that reason, he does not know his family’s history from his father’s side. Therefore, he relates more about the history from his mother’s side.

His mother was born in the “Sanimo” “Zainka.” He was also born there. When he was 7 years old, they moved to Zima.
Pavel relates that he knows almost nothing about Subbotnik tradition because both his father and grandfather did not talk about it so much as they were afraid of the authorities. He says that sometimes only his grandfather would tell about the life in the “Sanimo” “Zainka.” About how they celebrated the holidays and kept the Shabbat.
He says that when they moved to Zima, from what he remembers of his childhood, was that the children in Zima called them Subbotniks and their children were called Zids.

Pavel also explains that the Subbotniks were not only afraid to be Subbotniks and that their friends were Subbotniks but there were also those who sought other roots. They did not want to be Jewish or Subbotniks. So for example, Pavel’s brother thought that they had Cossack roots because of their family name, Kzanichev, which is somewhat similar to Cossack.

Pavel relates that his brother began to search for roots and ended up finding the Subbotniks but did not find a single Cossack amongst them.

Pavel’s brother lives in Yakutsk.

Pavel remarks that his father’s relatives, his two aunts, did not like calling themselves “Hebrews” because it was a shameful word. They said that they weren’t Hebrews but Jewesses because that was thought to be more honorable.

Pavel also tells about his grandmother who always told her relatives, that according to the tradition among the Jews and Subbotniks, “The Czar sent us to Siberia and we went there by foot in chains.” She added that, “A time will soon come and we will be taken with honor and go up to the Land of Israel.”

Pavel says that he very much wants to make Aliya to Israel. He says that for many years now he feels that he is a patriot of the land of Israel. He adds that although he is not so young any more, he is 40 years old, but he says he very much wants to make Aliya and live in Israel, to contribute to the Land of Israel, build it. He is even willing to serve in the army, in so far it would be necessary. That is to say, he very much wants to make Aliya to Israel in a practical manner and contribute to building up the Land of Israel.

Pavel adds that despite the fact that since he was born he lived more or less in a Russian culture; everybody around him are Russians, he himself never felt close to that culture. That is to say, he always sought a culture of his own, different from the Russian one.

Pavel returns to the subject of fear of the authorities. He relates that when they were children, he and his brothers would ask their mother, “Mother, tell us, are we Jews?” Or, “Who are we?” Their mother would then answer, “Don’t ask me.” Pavel thinks that it was because she was afraid and did not want or tell them and thereby endanger herself, as well as the children themselves.

Pavel says that when the Subbotniks left their villages, the Zainkas, they were not so successful in continuing their tradition because in the city everybody could see them celebrating their holidays. In these circumstances, the Subbotniks feared showing others that they were Subbotniks for fear of the authorities.

Pavel says that even though he left the Zainka already at 7 years of age, he does carry some memories from there. He says the most outstanding memory that he has from there, was of the Subbotniks celebrating the Succoth holiday at the Zainka. He says that even though at this time of the year, during Succoth, it was already beginning to get cold in Russia; they sometimes succeeded in sitting in the Succah for a long time. Sometimes, they could only enter the Succah, eat something and immediately go back inside because it had already snowed there.

Pavel relates that his mother told him that the Subbotniks would bury people differently than what was customary amongst the Russians. She related, for instance, that Pavel’s grandfather was in charge if the Subbotnik cemetery at the Zainka. When he buried people, he would dress them in special clothes and recite certain prayers.

Pavel adds that his grandfather and his brothers were very good farmers. People in the area were jealous of them because his father had many fields and many possessions for he was quite a rich man.

Thank you very much Pavel!

Pavel says that he apologizes that he does not know how to make speeches too well, but in simple words, he tried to explain his family’s history.



Shavei Israel
Shavei Israel