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.
Topics: Main Topic: Other, Ethnography
Abstract: Before 1991, approximately 60,000 Central Asian Jews lived in Uzbekistan. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, their centurieslong history in the region underwent dramatic changes. The lifting of emigration restrictions coupled with fear of economic chaos, political instability, growth of national movements and a rise in antisemitism, provoked massive Jewish emigration. Today, only about 4,000 Central Asian Jews remain in Uzbekistan. The others have emigrated primarily to the United States, Israel and Austria. The following piece is about the Central Asian Jews who still live in Samarkand, Uzbekistan's second largest city. Today, about one thousand—only ten percent of the city's former community—remain there. Those who have stayed have all watched while relatives and friends have packed their belongings, sold their homes and left the country. They have witnessed the community structure crumble and they have seen the city's old Jewish quarter been sold off, house by house, to outsiders. Today, they are each faced with the question: What is home and where is it now? The work is fiction, informed by an anthropological perspective. The narrative was woven from ethnographic data that I collected during field work among the Central Asian Jews in Samarkand.
Topics: Bukharian Jews, Ethnography, Globalisation, Diaspora, Immigration, Main Topic: Identity and Community
Abstract: Part ethnography, part history, and part memoir, this volume chronicles the complex past and dynamic present of this ancient Mizrahi community. While intimately tied to the Central Asian landscape, the Jews of Bukhara have also maintained deep connections to the wider Jewish world. As the community began to disperse after the fall of the Soviet Union, Alanna E. Cooper travelled to Uzbekistan to document Jewish life there before it disappeared. Built around a series of dramatic encounters between Bukharan Jews and Jews from other Jewish centres from the 18th century to the present and drawing from Cooper's work among immigrants to the US, the book tells an intimate and personal story of what it means to be Bukharan Jewish. Cooper's lively narrative illuminates the tensions inherent in maintaining Judaism as a single global religion over the course of its long and varied diaspora history.