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ALEKSYEYEV, ALEKSANDER (called also Wolf Nachlass):

Author and convert to the Greek Catholic Church; born in 1820, at Nazarinetz, government of Podolsk, Russia, of poor Jewish parents. At the age of ten he was impressed into military service by the press-gang (poimshchiki) of Emperor Nicholas I., and sent away to the distant city of Volsk, government of Saratov. Nicholas I. believed that he could convert the Jews to the Orthodox Greek Church by taking the sons from their parents while young and placing them in military service. For a long time Aleksyeyev remained faithful to the religion of his forefathers, and the officials considered him a most stubborn subject.

However, about 1845, he changed his views entirely, and not only became a member of the Orthodox Russian Church, but managed to convert more than five hundred Jewish Cantonists, for which he was promoted in 1848 to the rank of a non-commissioned officer, and was honored by the emperor's thanks. About 1855 Aleksyeyev was so unfortunate as to lose the use of his legs. He then settled in Novgorod, and during his long illness wrote the following works on ethnographic and missionary topics: (1) "Torzhestvo Christianskavo Ucheniya nad Ucheniem Talmuda, ili Dushepolyezny Razgovor Christianina s Iyudeyem o Prishestvii Messii" (The Triumph of Christian Teaching over the Talmudic Teaching, or a Soul-saving Conversation of a Christian and a Jew on the Coming of the Messiah), St. Petersburg, 1859. (2) "Bogosluzhenie, Prazdniki i Religioznye Obryady Nynyeshnikh Yevreyev" (Religious Service, Holidays and Religious Rites of the Jews of To-day), Novgorod, 1861; 3d ed., 1865. (3) "Obshchestvennaya Zhizn Yevreyev, ikh Nravy, Obychai i Predrazsudki" (The Public Life of the Jews, their Habits, Customs, and Prejudices), Novgorod, 1868. (4) "Besyedy Pravoslavnavo Christianina Snovoobrashchennym," etc. (Colloquies of an Orthodox Christian with a Newly Converted Jew), St. Petersburg, 1872; 2d ed., Novgorod, 1875. (5) "Byvshi Yevrei za Monastyri i Monashestvo" (A Former Jew for Monasteries and Monasticism), Novgorod, 1875. (6) "Obrashchenie Yudeiskavo Zakonnika v Christianstvo" (The Conversion to Christianity of an Observer of the Jewish Law), Novgorod, 1882. (7) "Upotreblyayut li Yevrei Christianskuyu Krov?" (Do the Jews Use Christian Blood?), Novgorod, 1886; and several others.

His works are not devoid of interest; he was the first Jew in Russia to give a description of the life and customs of his coreligionists there. He refuted the absurd blood-accusation. But his attitude toward the Jewish religion and the Jewish rabbis remains a very hostile one.

Bibliography:
  • Aleksyeyev, Autobiography in Novogorodskiya Uyezdnyya Gubernskiya Vyedomosti, 1868, and in his other works;
  • M. Arkhangelski, Strannik, 1862, No. 1, pp. 1-4;
  • Vengerov, Kritiko-Bibliograficheski Slovar, St. Petersburg, 1889.
H. R.
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