8. Conclusion

The sun has set on the Subbotniki. They exist no more as an organized religion in any part of the world as far as I can tell(1). However, the fact that they did exist is important to note and document. This is especially important to those, like me, who are descendants of Subbotniki.

These people followed a faith that was in-between the worlds of their Molokan heritage and that of the ethnic Jews that they chose to emulate. In adopting more fundamental, Old Testament practices such as the laws laid down by Moses and the Saturday Sabbath, they felt they were getting closer to God. However, they ended up being ostracized by their neighbors from both sides. In addition to enduring the persecution of non-believers by the Russian Orthodox Church and the Tsarist government, they were isolated from others, including Molokans and Russian Jews, who were enduring the same fate. Still, they pursued their beliefs for a long time. However, lacking sufficient critical mass, the Subbotniki were not able to sustain their identity and religion after leaving the Motherland. Upon reaching new shores, both America and Israel, they soon blended into the mainstream society in their new homelands.

Are there descendants of Subbotniki immigrants who settled in other parts of the United States? If so, who are they? I hope to find the answer to this question someday. I would appreciate hearing from any reader who has corrections or additional information about the Subbotniki past and present.

  1. Author’s Note April 2005: I reached this conclusion while writing this paper in 2000. As indicated in Additional Sources in the Bibliography and in other citations listed on the new Subbotniki.org web site, other researchers have discovered and documented their visits to small Subbotniki villages in the Azerbaijan and Armenia in the early part of the 21st Century.


  1. Louis Adamic, A Nation of Nations (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1944) pp. 152-3 [Back to citation.]

  2. S M Dubnow, History of the Jews in Russia and Poland, Vol. 1, translated by I. Friedlaender (Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Soc. of America, 1916) pp. 19-29, 36-7, 246-254, 401-3 [Back to citation.]

  3. Robin Milner-Gulland and Nikolai Dejevsky, Cultural Atlas of Russia and the Soviet Union (New York, NY: 1991 – ISBN: 0-8160-2207-0) 43-4 [Back to citation.]

  4. Kevin A, Brook, Jews of Khazaria (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1999 – ISBN: 0-7657-6032-0 ) 260
    Also see website: http://www.khazaria.com    [Back to citation.]

  5. Pauline V. Young, Pilgrims of Russian-Town (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1932 – LC 66-27375) 22, 64-5, 229-30 [Back to citation.]

  6. James H. Billington, The Icon and the Axe: An interpretive History of Russian Culture (New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1970 – LC: 66-18687) pp. 288-9 [Back to citation.]

  7. Raphael and Jennifer Patai, The Myth of the Jewish Race (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1989 – ISBN: 0-8143-1948-3) pp. 88-90 [Back to citation.]

  8. Masha Greenbaum, The Jews of Lithuania (Jerusalem: Gefen Publishing House, 1995 – ISBN: 965-229-132-3) pp. 171-2 [Back to citation.]

  9. A. I. Kilbanov, History of Religious Sectarianism in Russia (1860s -1917), translated by Ethel and edited by Stephen Dunn (Elmsford, NY: Pergamon Press, 1982 – ISBN: 0-08--26794-7) pp. 13, 45-6, 180, 182, 207, 398, 404 [Back to citation.]

  10. S. Stepaniak, The Russian Peasantry: their agrarian condition, social life, and religion (London: G. Routledge & Sons, 1905 - LC: 05033566) [Back to citation.]

  11. As cited in Allen H. Godbey, The Lost Tribes: a Myth (New York, NY: KATV Publishing, 1974 – LC 72-10300) pp. 302-3 [Back to citation.]

  12. Bernard Marinbach, Galveston: Ellis Island of the West (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1983 – ISBN: 0-87395-701-6) pp.  15-43 [Back to citation.]

  13. L. A. Tul’tseva, Evolution of Old Russian Sectarianism, translated by Ethel Dunn (Moscow, USSR: 1969) [Back to citation.]

  14. Richard H. Weisaberg, Vichy Law and the Holocaust in France (New York, NY: New York University Press, 1996 – ISBN: 0-8147-9302-9) pp. 222-3 [Back to citation.]

Additional Resources

  1. Nicholas B Breyfogle, Heretics and Colonizers: Religious Dissent and Russian Colonization of Transcaucasia, 1830 – 1890 (PhD dissertation in history) (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania, 1998)

  2. V I Kozlov, Russkie starozhily Zakavkaz’ia Molokane i Dukhobortsy (Moscow, Russia: Institut Etnologii i Antropologii, 1995)

  3. Yo’av Karny, Highlanders: A Journey to the Caucasus in Quest of Memory (New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000 – ISBN: 0-374-22602-4) pp. 302-47

  4. V A Dymshits, Expedition to Azerbaijan in June 1997 (St. Petersburg. Russia: Petersburg Judaica Research Center)

  5. Alexandr L’vov, Gery and Subbotniks – Talmudists and Karaimy (St. Petersburg. Russia Petersburg: European University at St. Petersburg, Center for Jewish Studies

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