"Russian" Sabbatarians in the Holy Land

The only Christians who have made "Aliyah" to the Holy land are the Molokan (Spiritual Christian) Subbotniki (Sabbatarians). What are the unique characteristics of this belief system which makes it welcome there? It is difficult to group all Subbotniks together by describing their beliefs and practices because Subbotniks do not form any one single organized religious group, but some generalizations can be made. It is just about possible to discern three types of Subbotnik on a spectrum between mainstream Christianity and mainstream Judaism.. 
  1. The original Subbotniks called Molokan Subbotniki practice a type of Russian Sabbatarian Spiritual Christianity which preserves and/or adopted many of what they perceived to be ancient "Hebrew Christian" practices by studying the ways of Qaraites and Jews. For example, Subbotniks rest on Sabbath but come together for worship on Motzei Shabbat.  It is sometimes difficult to distinguish this groups' individuals from the second group.
  2. The Karaims (Qaraites of Europe and former Russia) are Judaizers which originated as the first type of Subbotniks. Only their clerics are circumcised and they often came from Turkic backgrounds. Alexander Zaid of the Lithuanian Tatars is a famous example of this type of Subbotnik. They looked to the Romaniot Jews for their inspiration for example by adopting the Romaniot name HaKhan for its leaders. Most famous of these groups is Universal Karaite Judaism (UKJ) which continues the tradition of Tuvia Levi Babovich whose forefather Sima Babovich adopted the Romaniot Jewish calendar for his community in the 1830s. However, the Russian Empire went to extensive efforts to prevent various communities of these Karaims from uniting under one universal authority. Therefore, isolated groups have not all been recognized by UKJ and are still required to convert through UKJ's programs if they wish to be recognized by UKJ. This is further hindered by the fact that although these groups use the Hebrew Bible, only their Hakhams know Hebrew. Also, while they have mainly rejected the idea that Jesus Christ was the divine Savior and only begotten son of God, some groups still accept him as a righteous teacher and have put his prayer in their Siddurs(1). 
  3. In the late 1800s AD some groups of such Karaims made an illegal conversion to Ashkenazi Judaism which was forbidden at that time. They are called Ger-Subbotniks or Talmudist Subbotniks. Their prayer books are in Hebrew which they can read but do not understand. They congregate to worship on Sabbaths wearing Yarmulkes and Tallits with Tzitzits. They accepted the mainstream orthodox Jewish opinions on Jesus and many (but not all) of them have long since been formally accepted into mainstream Rabbinical Judaism. 
The focus of this website is on the original Spiritual Christian Subbotniks. 

Subbotniks were the original early fore-runner of modern Messianic Judaism -being Jewish not by ethnicity but by characteristics of religion in order to lay claim to Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews as their very own. They use the Russian Church Bible.

They observe holidays according to weeks on the traditional Russian (Julian) calendar where March to February correspond with Nisan to Adar respectively. For example: 
  • The Sunday of the week of September 1 is Indiction (Yom Ha-Teruah). 
  • The Day of Forgiveness (Yom Kippur) is on Tuesday in the week of September 10 
  • The Sunday Octave week of the 15th of September is Tabernacles (Succoth)
  • The Sunday Octave week of November 25th is the Festival of Lights (Hanukkah)
  • The Nativity Fast of the Tenth Month (Zechariah 8:19) is in December
  • The Feast of Magi Gifts is the 25th of December
  • The Feast of the Circumcision is the 1st of January (Shevat)
  • Maslenitsa is the last week before Lent 
  • The Festival of Esther/Mordechai (Purim) is in the week of February 14th
  • The week of March 15th is Holy Week (Hag Ha-Motzi) 
  • The Sunday of the week of March 22 is the first day of Pascha (counting the Omer)
  • Mid-Pentecost is in the week of 15th of April 
  • The Sunday of the week of May 10 is Pentecost (Shavuot)
  • The Apostles' Fast of the Fourth Month (Zechariah 8:19) is in June 
  • The Apostles' Fast of the Fifth Month (Zechariah 8:19) is in July 
  • All Saints Day is in the week of July 10th 







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