The Mountain Jews in Post-Soviet Caucasus: Reconstructing Ethnic Identification and Political Orientation
Topics: Mountain Jews, Jewish Revival, Ethnicity, Jewish Identity, Main Topic: Identity and Community
Abstract: Even though the ethnic factor played a significant role in Soviet and post-Soviet politics in the Caucasus and contributed to the rapid transformation of the ethnic organizations into political movements and parties, one ethnic group, the Mountain Jews, stands out as an exception. Unlike other ethnic groups, no community of Mountain Jews in the Caucasus has ever mobilized politically to get official acknowledgment on the basis of its ethic and religious identity. Why? The answer to this question lies in explanation of certain aspects of ethnic identification and political orientation of the Mountain Jews discussed in this paper. The paper concludes that the political culture and historical experience of Mountain Jews delegitimizes the very idea of ethnic mobilization in regional politics regardless of their official status within political regime. The Mountain Jews have never relinquished their national identity and ethno-cultural affiliation with their brethren beyond the Caucasian mountains. Nor have they ever abandoned the Jewish faith.
Topics: Bukharian Jews, Mountain Jews, Ethnicity, Surveys, Aliyah, Main Topic: Identity and Community
Abstract: This study of ethnic identity and ethnic relations in the Caucasus and Central Asia uses a 1985 sample of Soviet Jews who immigrated to Israel. Georgian, ‘Bukharan’ (Central Asian) and Mountain Jews are more attached to religion and tradition than their Ashkenazi brethren. They do not use religion as a surrogate for ethnicity, and they have a strong sense of ethnic identification, including a highly specific self‐identity as Georgian, Bukharan or Mountain Jews, different from other Jews. Georgian Jews report less frequent encounters with anti‐Semitism than any other Jewish group, but all groups believe that ethnicity plays a major role in daily life, in encounters with officials, and in social relations. Ethnic stereotypes and ethnic distances are clearly revealed in tests among the respondents. Ethnicity emerges as an important factor in daily life and ethnic gaps appear quite wide. These conclusions are supported by recent events in the USSR.
Translated Title: Modern Family of the Mountain Jews of Kabardino-Balkaria
Translated Title: הסובוטניקים
Topics: Karaites, Aliyah, Conversion, Small Jewish Communities, Conversion, Main Topic: Identity and Community
Abstract: This field report takes interest in the Subbotniks, a group whose name is known to many but whose reality is known but to a few. Dr. Chernin has conducted wide-ranging travel to remote areas of the FSU, which enabled him both to survey the far-flung communities of Subbotnik Jews existing today, and to form a well-grounded opinion with regard to the Jewishness of these groups. One result has been the enabling of immigration to Israel for those Subbotniks who choose that option. This fascinating Field Report enables the reader to acquire a geographical and cultural “map” of the Subbotniks, and thereby to gain respect and admiration for this courageous and worthy community.
Translated Title: Caucasus Jews in Daghestan: Identity and Survival
Abstract: המחקר עוסק בקהילת יהודי ההר ברפובליקה האוטונומית דאגסטאן שבקווקז. לאחר שבשנות התשעים עלו רוב יהודי הקהילה לישראל או היגרו ליעדים אחרים, נותרו במקום יהודים המתמודדים עם שאלות הקשורות לזהות יהודית ולהישרדות הקהילה במצב החדש שנוצר. הדילמות הללו הן בעלות אופי ייחודי בשל המאפיינים הגאו-פוליטיים של האזור והשינויים שחלו בהם, ובשל מדיניות שלטונית ייחודית לפיה "יהודי ההר" נחשבים חלק מהעם הטאטי. אידיאולוגיה מקומית זו הקנתה ליהודי דאגסטאן נגישות לזכויות בתוך הרפובליקה, אולם יצרה דילמות הנוגעות לזהותם כיהודים ולקשר שלהם עם כלל ישראל.
Immigrant Jews of the Caucasus in New York and Moscow: Ethno-Cultural Identity and Community Organization
Topics: Diaspora, Mountain Jews, Jewish Identity, Jewish Culture, Jewish Community, Emigration, Main Topic: Identity and Community
Abstract: This article brings together two case studies from a larger research project on collective identity, ethnic categorization and community life among Jews of the Caucasus who migrated from their homelands to Israel, USA and Central Russia. It shows how this distinctive group of Jews strives to preserve its culture, language and social ties by building community organizations and forging new relationships with the surrounding majority and other Jewish groups. Specifically, the author focuses on the encounter between Jews of the Caucasus with Russian Jews that challenges the accepted binary oppositions between Mizrahi/Sephardic and Ashkenazi identities used in the Israeli and American Jewish discourse.