History of the Jews in Tajikistan

History of the Jews in Tajikistan

Jews and Judaism in Tajikistan have a long and varied history. Most Jews in Tajikistan were originally Bukharian Jews. [citebook|title=Ethnic Groups Worldwide: A Ready Reference Handbook|author=David Levinson|year=1998|publisher=Greenwood Press|id=ISBN 1573560197]


Jews first arrived in the eastern part of the Emirate of Bukhara, in what is today Tajikistan, in the 2nd century BC. After the Communists came to power they organized the country into republics, including Tajikistan, which was first formed as an autonomous republic within Uzbekistan in 1924, and in 1929 became a full-fledged republic.

In an effort to develop Tajikistan, Soviet authorities encouraged migration, including thousands of Jews from neighboring Uzbekistan. Most Jews settled in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, where they opened the Dushanbe synagogue. During the Second World War a second wave of Ashkenazic Jews migrated to Tajikistan.

In the USSR, including Tajikistan, beginning in the 1970s, Jews who were able, began to emigrate to the United States and also to Israel. By the late 1980s, many of Tajikistan's Jews had left. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Tajikistan gained independence and the country fell into a state of civil war. In 1992-1993 most of the country's few thousand Jews were evacuated to Israel or to the United States. They later gained an American/Israeli nationality and citizenship and no longer hold a citizenship or connection to Tajikistan.

During the 1990s most the remaining 1,000 or so Jews emigrated. One tragic event in the Jewish community was the murder of journalist Meirkhaim Gavrielov in 1998. Today, only a hundred Jews are left in Tajikistan, [http://www.jafi.org.il/education/100/concepts/demography/demtables.html] most of them are Ashkenazi. Almost no Bukharian Jews are left in Tajikistan. [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/28/international/asia/28tajikistan.html]

Dushanbe Synagogue

As of 2006, the Dushanbe synagogue was the last remaining synagogue in the country, and was actively being used for worship. However, the Tajik government gave the order to the local Jewish community to vacate the synagogue, which was going to be demolished for a new presidential palace. After the destruction of the community's mikvah, kosher butcher, and several classrooms, as well as an international outcry, the demolition was halted, and the community is now rebuilding the synagogue at (their own expense). Because of this incident, many Americans and Israelis of Tajik Jewish descent have negative views towards Tajikistan.

ee also

*Bukharian Jews.


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