PRIVOLNOE: Print

45° 55' 10 N : 41° 18'. Jewish Virtual Library citation.

"The village of Privolnoe is located in the Talysh Mountains, 20 km from Iran and 300 km from Baku, Azerbaijan's capital. "It was established in the early nineteenth century by Gerim (or Gerei Tzedek, righteous converts), ethnic Russians who converted to Judaism about two hundred years ago, and Sobbotniks, whose name is derived from the Russian word for Sabbath. This community of Sobbotniks identify themselves as Karaites. Very little is known about the original conversion of the Gerim, although we do know that they originated in the regions of the Volga and Don rivers, as well as Central Russia and the Northern Caucasus. Both the Gerim and the Sobbotniks were expelled from these areas in the early nineteenth century, after the authorities tried and failed to suppress them. Local inhabitants give different dates for the foundation of Privolnoe, but the claim that they arrived in Privolnoe around 1824 can be substantiated by the presence of a Ger tombstone dated 1831... . The Center's researchers documented 120 tombstones from the two Privolnoe cemeteries, which are divided into two sections for the Gerim and Sobbotniks. The tombstones are made of limestone and closely resemble traditional Ashkenazi ones: a vertical stele with a square, triangular or semi-circular crown. Epitaphs on the Ger tombstones are inscribed in Hebrew, in square Ashkenazi script. The deceased's age is also usually included which is not typical of traditional Ashkenazi Jewish tombstones of this period. The date of death is given according to the Jewish calendar. Quite often the epitaph is also engraved in Russian, and in certain cases the Russian name and surname of the deceased are added to the Hebrew inscription. Images of the Star of David and menorah decorate some of the tombstones. Sobbotnik tombstones are plainer than those of the Gerim, and only the oldest ones have Hebrew epitaphs including the words ish karai (Karaite man)." [November 2000] [Source: http://www.hum.huji.ac.il/CJA/NL14-Azerbajan.htm, which included photo of cemetery, no longer operational - July 2008].

  • Balashov Cemetery:: "Orthodox 'Gerim' community, Russians who converted to Judaism more than two hundred years ago, and strictly keep the Ashkenazi orthodox customs. ... Indeed, the earliest extant tombstone we found of 'Ger-Zedek' was dated 1841, but there existed an older cemetery, now totally destroyed. ...another minority group, the 'Sobbotniks.' They identify themselves as 'Karaim'and their 19th century tombstones are thus inscribed. The 'Sobbotniks,' who unfortunately are not welcome in Israel, will continue their life as a community, in two villages they founded in Russia. The 'Gerim,' however, will cease to exist as a homogenous group of converts to Judaism. Although they never had the opportunity to live with Ashkenazi Jews, they adhered to all their customs. Now they will disperse throughout Russian, and a remarkable chapter in the history of the Jewish people will come to its end. " [September 2002] [Source: Summer 1997, http://www.hum.huji.ac.il/cja/nl13-1.htm#Privolnoe - link no longer operational - July 2008]
Last Updated on Friday, 03 September 2010 20:34