Ethnic religious minorities

Historically the history of Islam in Estonia is connected with the local Tatar minority: a sizeable Tatar community came to Estonia in the 19th century. The Estonian Islamic Congregation also unites the Azerbaijanis, Kasakhs and Uzbeks in addition to the Tatars. In 1995 a second Islamic congregation was founded — the Estonian Mohammedian Sunni Congregation with a relatively small membership.

Judaism in Estonia is the religion of local Jews. Their community developed in the 19th century. Today there are three Judaic congregations in Estonia — Estonian Jewish Congregation (founded in 1856) in Tallinn, the Progressive Jewish Congregation (1992) and the Progressive Jewish Congregation Gineini in Narva (1992). These congregations unite but a small part of the approximately 2500 Jews in Estonia.

Orthodoxy of the Setus
Since its conquest in the 13th century most Estonian territory belonged to the Western-European cultural sphere, but in the south-east corner of Estonia, where people lived for centuries under Russian rule, the local inhabitants, the Setus, remained historically Orthodox. The Setus living at the Estonia-Russia border have preserved many pre-Christian customs, mixed with the Orthodox tradition. The development of the unique folk religion of the Setus is partly explained by their geographic isolation, but also by another important factor: after the Reformation, elsewhere in Estonia, religious services began to be held in Estonian, but in the Orthodox Setu-area, the services continued predominantly in Old Church-Slavic even into the 20th century, and this was not understood by most Setus.

Russian Old Believers
Old Believers (starovers) arrived from Russia in several waves starting in the beginning of the 18th century. The majority of the Old Believers who escaped religious persecution after the church reform in 1655-1656, settled in the coastal villages around Lake Peipus where they have preserved their specific religious tradition until today. There are about 11 Old Believers’ congregations in Estonia with about 5000 members, who constitute a unique religious-ethnic group, different from both Estonians and other Russians who arrived later. Especially valuable culturally and historically is their tradition of icon-painting (icon-writing).

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