Judaizers [ожидовілі; ozhydovili]. A religious sect of an obscure origin and nature that arose in the late 15th century in Novgorod principality and Moscow principality. According to a chronicle, the sect was founded in Novgorod by Skhariia, a Jewish merchant who arrived from Kyiv with Prince Mykhailo Olelkovych in 1471 and converted two Orthodox priests to his faith. According to some scholars the sect first arose in Ukraine. Its beliefs were more closely related to Western rationalist heresies, which were known in Novgorod, than to Judaism. The Judaizers emphasized the Old Testament, celebrated Easter on the Passover, and kept the Sabbath. They rejected the church hierarchy, monasticism, icon worship, and the sacraments of Christ, and denied his divinity, the trinitarian nature of God, and the immortality of the soul. The earliest Church Slavonic translations of philosophical works such as the Lectures of Moses the Egyptian (Maimonidean Logic), A. Ghazali’s Introduction to Philosophy, and Secreta Secretorum are attributed to adherents of the sect. The Judaizers spread to Moscow, where the sect gained adherents among the church hierarchy and protectors around the tsar’s family. Having been condemned by the church, the sect was severely persecuted. Remnants of it fled to Lithuania and Poland, and their descendants were resettled by Tsar Nicholas I on Ukrainian territories along the Black Sea and in Transcaucasia. In the 18th century, Judaizing tendencies appeared among several Russian sects which were unrelated to the 15th-century Judaizers. At the beginning of the 19th century a sect of Sabbath observers was discovered in Voronezh gubernia on Ukraine’s northern border. In 1825 various restrictions and burdens were placed on the sect; these were not lifted until 1884.

Chyzhevs’kyi, Dmytro. Narysy z istoriï filosofiï na Ukraïni (Prague 1931)
Kazakova, Natalia; Lur’e, Iakov. Antifeodal'nye ereticheskie dvizheniia na Rusi XIV– nachala XVI veka (Moscow 1955)

Ivan Korovytsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]

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