On Oct.4,03 Jim Bennet asked about the B-M-D records he'd on a site regarding
Novogrudok Metrical Records. He wonderd what "Israelites" meant in this
On Oct.5, 03 Elena Smirnova gave an explanation , but still posed the
question what was meant by the word "Israelites."
On Oct.7, 03 Steve Orlen suggested that "Israelites" might refer to what is
called in English "Old Believers." But this was a Christian sect also which
was also known as "Old Ritualists."
Like members of many several official religious, like Protestantism,
Catholicism other Christian sects like the Subbotniks, Skoptsy (Castrati), Molokans,
Dukhobors, and also Muslims and peoples of other religous concepts, Old
Believers were persecuted by the Tsars and after the Revolution they were not
treated any more sympathetically by the atheistic Soviet regime than were the Jews.
(For a time, before the Revolution, the German Mennonites who set up
farming communities were appreciated for their skills, sobriety and cleanliness.)
Karaites were also of Jewish belief, but rejected the Talmud.
There were two sorts of Old Believers. Some maintained respect of the
sacraments and priests and the others who did not. However, Old Believers were
not, it seems, Jewish in origin. They simply did not subscribe to all the tenets
and rituals of the Russian Orthodox Church. It may be that Mr. Orlen also was
thinking of Subbotniks, who observed the Sabbath on the same day the Jews did
or maybe he had in mind the Karaites.
It should be borne in mind that Christianity came relatively lately,several
hundred years after Jesus' death, to Russia, and it came >from Byzantium, rather
than >from Rome. Before Christianity arrived most Russians were "pagans."
(And some historians have observed that even during the early part of the
twentieth century pagan notions and rituals survived among Russian peasants along
with their hazy Christian ideas and practices.)
It is possible that the term "Israelites" was the website's translation of a
Belorussian word referring to Jews. But, according to my big Oxford
Russian-English, English-Russian dictionary and other references, a Jew could be
referred to as what I translaterate as an Ebrei (Hebrew) or as a Iudei. There was
also a word often used in Polish or Russian in contempt, "Zydow" like our
"kike," or "Yid," which I doubt would have been used in those church records that
sometimes included records of Jews or converted Jews.
Naomi Fatouros (nee FELDMAN)
Researching: BELKOWSKY and BIELKOWSKY, Odessa,St. Petersburg and
Berdichev;ROTHSTEIN, Kremenchug; FELDMAN, Pinsk; SCHUTZ, RETTIG, WAHL, Shcherets; LEVY,
WEIL, Mulhouse; SAS or SASS,Podwolochisk; RAPOPORT, Tarnopol, Podwolochisk,
Berdichev; BEHAM, Salok and Kharkov; WOLPIANSKY, Ostryna.