Based on my research there seems to have been Jewish Cossacks. Based on what I have read it is possible they were Karaites who sought help of Cossacks to retrieve children and or families removed from their control by more 'traditional' Jewish communities (there is back chatter suggesting 'someone' had taken children or wives away from Karaites and they sought help to regain them).

However, the sources I have found on the internet so far don't provide much evidence. Are there any factual evidence that confirm there were Jewish Cossacks in the 17th century?

  • 1
    Interesting question; can you share a bit of the research you've already done? H:SE frequently doesn't like requests for references, but I think that this is an example of a good question. I'm going to upvote and request that if there is discussion of references, we take it to meta.
    – MCW
    May 30, 2014 at 14:58
  • 4
    Editing out the explicit request for sources wasn't that hard @TylerDurden.
    – yannis
    May 30, 2014 at 15:29
  • 1
    Any sources about Jews kidnapping Karaite children?
    – sds
    May 30, 2014 at 19:25

2 Answers 2


Wikipedia says that Jews were acceptable to the Zaporozhian Cossacks until they became an economic threat in 17th century.

The idea was briefly resurrected by Potemkin a century later.


This is a difficult question to answer, because of the many meanings of a Cossack, as shown below:

Isaac Babel, for instance, the author of Red Cavalry (early 20th century), was known as the Jewish Cossack. See Jon Leonard, The Jewish Cossack, the Nation, Nov., 26, 2001, p. 14 However, a relatively scientific book about Ukraine (which included the Cossacks) written in the 19th century by Henry d. Krasinski, Cossacks of the Ukraine, does not mention any Jewish Cossacks (probably because Cossacks is used in its ethnic meaning), and intermarriage did not really exist (wild guess, if it happened it was very short-lived).

Thus, this means that the question is whether there were any Jewish lawless criminals enrolled the tzarist army. And that is a very difficult question to answer, other than Issac Babel.

  • 1
    Isaac Babel wasn't "fictional", :) and his writing were apparently elaborations on actual events and characters, not completely fictional. Anyway, there were quite a few Jewish Cossacks in 20th Century other than Babel, and I even know one of them, currently residing in US. It's more difficult to answer about 17th century though.
    – Michael
    Jun 2, 2014 at 20:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.