The word "Israelites" and "Old Believers." #belarus


Just to point out that while Naomis comment on the Russians general
dislike of any religion is true, however, none of the other groups in
Soviet Russia appear to have merited to have their own "special section"
of the GPU (and its later Name, the KGB) such as the infamous "Yevseksia"
(the Jewish section of the KGB). This unusual section, manned by Jews,
had the "sacred" mission to eradicate Jewish religious life. In the
process, sending millions to their deaths. Under Stalin, the Jews in
this section were all sent to Siberia (thank G-d for all of us) and their
murderous activities stopped (somewhat).
So, the feeling of the Soviet Russian government was somewhat different
towards the Jews.
All the best,
Raanan Isseroff

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.


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)
Bloomington, Indiana
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.

Elina Smirnova <smirnova-elina@...>

Dear Naoumi

I can tell a lot about "Old Believers" (staroveri), but it is not a point of
this forum. "Staroveri" are orthodox christians by origin, appeared after
Nicon's reforms. We have to be very careful with different classifications,
especially when we speak about religious questions. What I have read about
"Israelites" makes me think, that this word was used in different meanings,
it depends where we met it. We are speaking about documents. Every word that
is written in the document is meaningful. There were "black israelites", and
there were "christian israelites" and there were "french israelites" ....
Different sects. Without any connection to russian "Old believers" If you
read something about that "israelites", you will understand, why it is
better to stop this discussion at the very beggining. I hope that in that
particular document the word meant just "jew"

Elina Smirnova