Recipients and Publicity comment to "Shavei Israel V - Proselytization as kiruv":
Russia's Chabad Chief Rabbinate Regards Subbotniks as Gentiles Requiring Giyur L'Chumra. Chabad Stance Opposes Shavei Israel's Lenient Attitude To Subbotniks That Wants Bring Them To Israel. Israeli Chief Rabbinate Caught In Middle.
The English language MISHPACHA magazine of 1.7.09 (11 Teves 5769) (Pages 12-13) presented a key article about: "Are the Subbotniks Full-Fledged Jews" that ran very much AGAINST the type of pro-Shavei Israel press-release self-congratulatory PR hype that was published in The Jewish Press, as posted above in The Jewish Press story of Friday, December 26, 2008 (Page 36): "Russia’s Subbotnik Jews Get a Rabbi":
ARE THE SUBBOTNIKS FULL-FLEDGED JEWS?
An estimated 15,000 Subbotniks living in southern Russia and Siberia wish to return to the traditions of their ancestors and emigrate to Israel. Are they, in fact, Jews? Are they eligible for aliyah under the Law of Return? These questions are currently up before both the Israeli Supreme Court and the Chief Rabbinate. [...]
Michael Freund, chairman of Shavei Yisrael organization, says that this part of the group is descended from geirei tzedek who converted in full accordance with halachah before the communist revolution. Many of them even learned in various yeshivos in Eastern Europe and were considered full-fledged Jews. Yet in recent years government clerks have labeled them with the same name as Shabbos-observing Christian group called “Subbotniks,” who are indeed non-Jews who never converted. According to Freund, no rabbinical or halachic authority negates the Judaism of the original group. [...]
Two years ago a delegation representing Israeli’s chief rabbi and president of the Chief rabbinical Court, Rav Shlomo Amar, traveled to Russia to verify the matter. Rabbi Tzion Boaron, who was sent to examine the issue, says that in the village of Illinka, the Subbotniks are indeed geirei tzedek who underwent conversion, and they should be brought to Eretz Yisrael. However, Rav Amar ruled, on being presented with extensive evidence, that the Subbotniks who live in Vysoky are not halachic Jews; they are not registered as Jews, and the answers they gave as to why they are not registered were not sufficient. They have no mikveh and when the members of the delegation asked to meet with the shochet, they gave him evasive excuses.[...]
The Chief Rabbinate adds that “there is no realistic way to single out specific families and definitively determine if they are the direct (daughter after daughter) descendants of converts.
The Rabbinate issued a halachic ruling which states that individual Subbotnikim who could prove their Judaism cannot be used to render a general ruling for the entire group. “It is known that at the end of the 1920s, a Chassidic rabbi named Chaim Liberman arrived in the village of Illinka, in the district of Voronezh, and established a slaughterhouse and the production of tzitzis. He provided kosher meat and talissos throughout Russia during the communist regime,” the beis din ruling states. “But it is understood that he came there because there was a whole community that was willing to help him and had an interest in having a certified rabbi. The rabbi engaged in activities that put his life at risk, and it is understood that he would accept any assistance that could help facilitate his work, but to use that as a proof that the people of Illinka were halachically Jewish is not conclusive. The fact that in the 1930s the villagers tried to register themselves as Jews in their Soviet passports does not alter anything halachically, and anyone who is considered to be the child of a Subbotnik mother must bring proof of Judaism or undergo a stringency conversion.”[...]