Russian woman, 71, wins aliyah battle

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Russian woman, 71, wins aliyah battle

Anna Bocharnikova becomes just the seventh person from the Russian Subbotnik community to be accepted for aliyah in the past five years

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Anna Bocharnikova, right, with Israeli Tova Filchagova
Anna Bocharnikova, right, with Israeli Tova Filchagova

A 71-year-old woman from a Russian village has succeeded in obtaining Israeli citizenship  after a three-year battle.

Former community leader Anna Bocharnikova, of Vysoki, belongs to the Subbotnik Jewish community of southern Russia, whose more than 600 remaining members are descendants of Russian peasants who converted to Judaism two centuries ago.

A  separate group of Russian Christians who chose to observe Shabbat is also known as Subbotniks, which has led to considerable confusion.

Bocharnikova is the first Subbotnik Jew to be allowed to make aliyah since 2016 and just the seventh to have done so in the past five years.

Before 2005, hundreds of Subbotnik Jews from Vysoki moved to Israel. All of them were recognised as Jews and integrated into Israeli society.

Fourteen years ago, however, Israeli officials halted the Subbotnik aliyah, casting doubt on their Jewishness.

Bocharnikova was helped by organisation Shavei Israel. Its founder and chairman, Michael Freund, said: “The treatment meted out to Subbotnik Jews by Israeli bureaucracy is simply inexcusable.”


Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: