Coordinates: 32° 45' 30" N 35° 24' 07" E
Gapon Ivanovich Kurakin rang the church bell in his small village in the Astrakhan region of Russia. One day, as he climbed the stairs to reach the bell, he had a vision that he realized was a sign from G-d. It was a sign that the village should convert to the Hebrew faith. After three days of debate, the Christian icons were collected from village homes and returned to the village priest.
Thirty village families packed their belongings, left the village, and set out for the Holy Land, converting to Judaism during their journey. Gapon Ivanovich became Abraham; his wife was renamed Sarah; and his children became Moses, Isaac, Joseph, Hanna, and Elijah.
Other families who journeyed to the Holy Land were the Neichev, the Protopopov, and the Rogachevski families.
The Rogachevski family hired a David Grün in 1906 as a Segera farm worker; Grün would become David Ben Gurion.
Kurakin and his followers were peasants in Russia; they became farmers in Palestine. They founded the first immigration settlements in the eastern Galilee: Yavne'el, Beit Gan, Kfar Tavor, and Ilaniya.
Joseph Kurakin's son, Menachem, was a member of the Palmach; in operation boatswain, his unit disappeared on their way to Lebanon. Elijah Kurakin's great-grandson, lieutenant-colonel Yossi Kurakin, fell in battle in 1997. Moshe's grandson, Abraham Avigdor, is a decorated soldier. Yitzchok's grandson, Raphael Cohen, fell in 1948.
Read the Hebrew version: Christian Farmers from Russia
Leah Haber Gedalia
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Created: 26 Sept. 2017
Last Modified: 10-01-2017
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