Rabinovich, Joseph

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RABINOVICH, JOSEPH (1837–1899), missionary in *Kishinev, Bessarabia, and founder of a Jewish-Christian sect. Born into a ḥasidic family, Rabinovich was attracted by the *Haskalah movement. During the early 1880s he joined the *Ḥibbat Zion movement and visited Palestine. He returned disappointed in the new movement and at the end of 1883, under the influence of a missionary named Faltin, he founded a new sect called The Children of Israel of the New Testament (this sect should not be confused with the sect called Novy Izrail (*New Israel) founded by Jacob Priluker of Odessa). Adherents of the sect were to accept the basic precepts of Christianity, while at the same time retaining their Jewish nationalism and observing Jewish traditions such as circumcision, the Sabbath, Jewish festivals, etc. On Christmas Day, 1884, a prayer house Bethlehem, in which prayers were recited in Hebrew and sermons delivered in Yiddish, was opened in Kishinev. In 1885 Rabinovich converted to Protestantism and continued his work in Kishinev with the support of Protestant missionaries whose funds allowed him to open a small printing press where he published prayer books and sermons. Among his publications were Tefillah ve-Ikkerei Emunah li-Venei Yisrael Benei Berit Hadashah ("Prayers and Principles of Faith of the Children of Israel of the New Testament," 1892), and Divrei Nihumim ("Words of Comfort," 1897). His activities had no influence on Russian Jewry and he remained an inefficient instrument in the hands of the German Protestant mission.


J. Dunlop, Memories of Gospel Triumphs among the Jews (1894), 445–8; J. Rabinowitsch, Neue Dokumenteder suedrussischen Christentumbewegung (1887), includes autobiography.

[Yehuda Slutsky]