Aleksander Aleksyeyev, was a Jewish convert to Orthodox Christianity in the mid nineteenth century through the press-gang (poimshchiki) system of Emperor Nicholas I of Russia. He is noted for his writings after his conversion.
Aleksander Aleksyeyev was born in 1820 of poor Jewish parents at Nazarevietz, government of Podolsk (Podolia). At the age of ten, he was impressed into Russian military service through the press-gang (poimshchiki) and sent to the distant city of Volsks in government of Saratov under the political and missionary policy of Nicholas I to take young boys from their parents and train them in military schools so that after they had completed their service of twenty-five years they might return home and act as missionaries among their parents. Aleksyeyev resisted Christian teaching for a long time, such that the officials considered him a most stubborn subject.
However, about 1845, he changed his views entirely, and not only became a member of the Russian Orthodox Church, but managed to convert about five hundred Jewish Cantonists. For this, in 1848, he was promoted to the rank of a non-commissioned officer and was honored by the Emperor's thanks.
About 1855, Aleksander was unfortunate in the loss of the use of his legs. After settling in Novgorod he began writing on ethnographic and missionary topics during his long illness. His works are interesting in that he was the first Jew in Russia to describe the life and customs of his Jewish brethren. He refuted the absurd and criminal blood accusation.
The date and place of his repose are unknown.
- "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).
- "Religious Service, Holy Day and Religious Rites of the Jews Today" (Novgorod, 1861).
- "The Public Life of the Jews, their Habits, Customs and Prejudices" (ib. 1868).
- "Colloquies of an Orthodox Christian with a Newly-Converted Jew" (St. Petersburg, 1872).
- "A Former Jew for Monasteries and Monasticism" (Novgorod, 1875).
- "The Conversion to Christianity of an Observer of the Jewish Law" (ib. 1882).
- "Do the Jews use Christian Blood?" (ib. 1886).