FAQ

Q Have Subbotniks always been Jews?
A. Not exactly, but we have always been considered a Zera Yisroel people. In the Russian Empire we were referred to as староиудеи. We and various organisations such as Nativ and Shavei Israel believe our Sarmatian ancestors descended from various "lost" tribes of Israel who were exiled to Azerbaijan by the Assyrians and Babylonians and mixed with the Scythians to produce the Sarmatians. Though our ancestors often used the classical Aramaic alphabet to write our non-Hebrew languages, usually Slavonic and Turkic rather than Cyrillic or Khazar Rovas we nevertheless consider ours to be the last remnant of the Khazar religion.

Q. How are Subbotniks considered Jews according to the Israeli Rabbinate?
A. In a similar way as Bene Manashe are considered to be Jews by the Rabbinate.

Q. Do Subbotniks have their own Rabbinate?
A. Just like Romaniot Jews, and Ethiopian Jews, and Kochin Jews, we do not have a Rabbinate of our own in the modern State of Israel. Subbotniks are considered to be Jewish Minim (like the Qara'im) by the Israeli Rabbinate.

Q. Do Subbotniks keep Tahora?
A. Subbotniks do not usually observe laws of Tahorah except for Sabbaths and High Holidays in order to sanctify the end of the day with Birkat HaMazon over the Havdalah Kos Shel Bracha Shirayim of the Seudah Shlishit which is very important for Subbotniks.

Q. How do Subbotniks gain Israeli Citizenship?
A. Since citizenship and Aliyah are different, Subbotniks should apply to the Misrad Hapnim for an Israeli residence card by providing suitable evidence of Subbotnik identity.

Q. Are Subbotniks really Christians?
A. Subbotniks do believe that Jesus Christ is the Jewish Christ and Samaritan Messias just like all Messianic Jews must and follow him as our Tzadik.

Q. Are Subbotniks different from Judaizers?
A. Yes, but since it is more uncomfortable to be a Christian in Israel than it is to be an Arab, the fact is that life in the modern State of Israel forces most Subbotniks to Judaize to a certain extent and convert to Orthodox Judaism. Nevertheless, the classical definition of a Judaizer is someone who Judaizes out of a sense of religious conviction rather than under any compelling social pressure. While strongly Zionistic, most Subbotniks are secular and have no strong sense of Jewish religious conviction.

Q. Which calendar do Subbotniks use?
A. Originally, Subbotniks used the Byzantine Calendar but in the modern State of Israel a mixture of Byzantine and Hebrew calendars is used. Subbotniks decorate Christmas Trees in time for the 8-day Fast of Adam from Byzantine 17th of December (Secular Dec 30) before the 8-day Feast of Kalenda. The Byzantine Year is the current international year plus 5509.

Q. Are Subbotniks shomer-masoret?
A. Sort of, yes, in a very basic way.

Q. Do Subbotniks wear yarmulkes?
A. No, and for that reason we were also known in Mother Russia as BesShapochny (бесшапочники).

Q. Do Subbotniks use any kinds of liturgy?
A. Subbotniks use a lot of typically Church Slavonic Liturgical language and the ancient Slavonic Psalter as used by the earliest Molokan-Subbotniks which was translated by Mikolas Firkovich in 1993. Since 1870 Subbotniks have also been using the 1870 Vilna "Порядок караимов" by Avraham Firkovich which is based on the original "Siddur tefillot ke-minhag ha-Karaim" by Isaak ben Solomon Ickowicz (abridged by Viktor Tiriyaki 2002 translated by Garkavets in 2004). You can see a redacted version of this Siddur without the Lord's Prayer by Nehemiah Gordon and Moshe Dabbah online here. It was re-published as the "Порядок молитв для караимов by Avraham Samoilovich Firkovich" in 1882 and again by Feliksas Maleckis as the "Порядок молитв для караимов, составленный вкратце гахамом и главным учителем караимов Авраамом Самойловичем Фирковичем" translated by Isaac Boguslaw Nisanovich Firkovich, 2 vols Tsaritsyn (Volgograd) E.N. Fedorov in 1892 (vol 1 was the Prayer book according to the customs of the Karaites 1, by Feliksas Maleckis, Vilnus, 1891-1892 being Edited by Mikolas Firkovich in 1998 and vol 2 was the Prayer book according to the customs of the Karaites 2, by Feliks Malecki, Vilnus, 1892 being Edited by M Firkovich in 1999), and again with the "Молитвы перед обедом, и после обеда за целый год по обряду Караимов" (Prayers before meals and after meals for the whole year after the manner of the Karaims) in 1896. It was published a third time in 1901.
There are also:
"The Russian Siddur" compiled by Eliezer Aaronovich Semyonov in 1907 (500 pages, no Hebrew)
"Jacob's Voice" by F. Maleckis published in 1910
However, since the end of the 2nd Aliyah Subbotniks have been dropping use of such books.
The last such book used by Subbotniks was "Everyday Prayers" by Simon Firkovich published in 1935 and edited by Mikolas Firkovich in 1993.


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