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The Jewish Community of Mongolia

Mongolia

Монгол Улс
A state in East Asia. Mongolia is bordered on the north by Russia, and on the south by China.

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: less than 100, mainly Israeli expatriates who live in the country temporarily, out of 3,200,000.

Монгол Улс дахь жид үндэстэн - The Jewish Community of Mongolia

 

HISTORY

Jewish families from Siberia traded in Mongolia at the end of the 19th century, and a few ended up settling there. A number of Russian Jews fleeing the civil war between 1918 and 1920 crossed Lake Baikal to settle in Outer Mongolia. Most of them were killed in 1921 by retreating White Russian troops.

Ulaanbaatar (formerly Urga, also known as Ulan Bator), the capital of the Mongolian People's Republic, had a community of 600 Russian Jews in 1926. Many worked as watchmakers, jewelers, barbers, furriers, and construction workers. Additionally, that same year a Russian-Jewish journalist learned that there were 50 newly-settled Jewish families in a deserted area of Outer Mongolia, approximately 200 miles from the Manchurian border. There were also a number of Jews among the Soviet specialists sent to Mongolia. Other Jews visited Outer Mongolia from the Manchurian town of Hailar during the 1920s, but these were seasonal visits in order to buy furs and other domestic products, and they did not take up permanent residence in Mongolia.

Most of the Jews who settled in Mongolia assimilated into Mongolian life, and many married Mongolian men and women. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the end of communism in Mongolia that same year, a number of children from these mixed families immigrated to Israel.

In 2003 the Mongol-Jewish Cooperation was formed, and launched a website that dealt with topics related to Judaism and Israel. The organization's leader, Sumati Luvsandendev, stated that "there are enough fingers on two hands to count all Jews who live here."

Place Type:
Country
ID Number:
121280
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Nearby places:

Related items:

Jacob Reuter (right) and Mittia Preshalov (left) standing a 7 foot tall Mongolian shepherd, Mongolia, c.1912
Reuter and Preshalov settled in Manchuria in 1905 and engaged in commerce between Mongolia and the Manchurian coastal cities
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot, courtesy of Benjamin Reuter, Israel)

Moshe Gershevitch, one of the owner of the Gershevitch
fur company in Tientsin, standing by a Mongolian tent,
Kalgan-Urga (?), Mongolia, 1929
The company used to buy furs in North China
and Mongolia for export
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Rosa Gershevitch)
Jewish merchants in Ulan Bator,
the capital of Mongolia,1925
Many Jews from the town of Manchuria maintained commercial links with Mongolia whose borders were near
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Dr. Benjamin Reuter, Israel)
Chaim Litvin with Mongolian friends
before his immigration to Israel,
Hailar, China 1963.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Chaim Litvin, Israel)
The cattle dealer Misha Galilevitch (center, holding dog)
with Mongolian and Russian soldiers near Hailar,
Manchuria 1903.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Dorothy Estrin, Los Angeles)
The Litvin boys and a friend standing outside
a Mongolian summer tent, Manchuria 1946-1959.
Their father, Haim Litvin, who was born in Hailar,
owned a ranch in the area from 1946 to 1959.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Haim Litvin, Israel)
Jewish mercants from the town of Manchuria
with a Mongol merchant. Extreme left: Reuben
Donen, cattle dealer who arrived in Manchuria from Russia
in 1911.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Zippora Weissman, Israel)
Haim Litvin,ownwe of a ranch near Hailar,
visiting a Mongol tent camp, Manchuria, China, 1950's
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Haim Litvin, Israel)

Chufut-Kale

Turk. "Jew castle"

Ancient town in Crimea near Bakhchisarai, between Sevastopol and Simferopol, Ukraine (now in ruins).

Chufut-Kale was probably originally a Greek fortress dating from the time of Justinian I (sixth century C.E.) and perhaps identical with Phyllae (Phyll), later mentioned as a Khazar possession. It had a settlement of Karaites who probably made their appearance there before the Mongol invasion (13th century).

Chufut-Kale retained its importance as a Karaite center until the Russian conquest of Crimea in 1783. It is referred to in Karaite sources as Sela Ha-Yehudim (Rock of the Jews). The Karaite community numbered over 300 families in the middle of the 17th century. A Hebrew press was established by the Karaites in 1734, for publishing Karaite works; the press continued to function until 1741. Under the Russians, another press operated from 1804 to 1806. In the second half of the 19th century the Karaites abandoned Chufut-Kale. Attention was directed to Chufut-Kale in the 19th century as the most 546 of the 751 Hebrew epitaphs published in his Avnei Zikkaron (Vilna, 1872) were from Chufut-Kale, and biblical manuscripts from there are included in the second Firkovich collection, purchased after his death by the Imperial Public Library in St. Petersburg.

During World War II the Karaites there were spared from Nazi attacks.

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The Jewish Community of Mongolia

Mongolia

Монгол Улс
A state in East Asia. Mongolia is bordered on the north by Russia, and on the south by China.

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: less than 100, mainly Israeli expatriates who live in the country temporarily, out of 3,200,000.

Монгол Улс дахь жид үндэстэн - The Jewish Community of Mongolia

 

HISTORY

Jewish families from Siberia traded in Mongolia at the end of the 19th century, and a few ended up settling there. A number of Russian Jews fleeing the civil war between 1918 and 1920 crossed Lake Baikal to settle in Outer Mongolia. Most of them were killed in 1921 by retreating White Russian troops.

Ulaanbaatar (formerly Urga, also known as Ulan Bator), the capital of the Mongolian People's Republic, had a community of 600 Russian Jews in 1926. Many worked as watchmakers, jewelers, barbers, furriers, and construction workers. Additionally, that same year a Russian-Jewish journalist learned that there were 50 newly-settled Jewish families in a deserted area of Outer Mongolia, approximately 200 miles from the Manchurian border. There were also a number of Jews among the Soviet specialists sent to Mongolia. Other Jews visited Outer Mongolia from the Manchurian town of Hailar during the 1920s, but these were seasonal visits in order to buy furs and other domestic products, and they did not take up permanent residence in Mongolia.

Most of the Jews who settled in Mongolia assimilated into Mongolian life, and many married Mongolian men and women. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the end of communism in Mongolia that same year, a number of children from these mixed families immigrated to Israel.

In 2003 the Mongol-Jewish Cooperation was formed, and launched a website that dealt with topics related to Judaism and Israel. The organization's leader, Sumati Luvsandendev, stated that "there are enough fingers on two hands to count all Jews who live here."

Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Jewish men standing by a giant Mongolian shepherd, Mongolia, c.1912

Jacob Reuter (right) and Mittia Preshalov (left) standing a 7 foot tall Mongolian shepherd, Mongolia, c.1912
Reuter and Preshalov settled in Manchuria in 1905 and engaged in commerce between Mongolia and the Manchurian coastal cities
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot, courtesy of Benjamin Reuter, Israel)

M. Gershevitch, of the fur company in Tientsin, Mongolia, 1929
Moshe Gershevitch, one of the owner of the Gershevitch
fur company in Tientsin, standing by a Mongolian tent,
Kalgan-Urga (?), Mongolia, 1929
The company used to buy furs in North China
and Mongolia for export
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Rosa Gershevitch)
Jewish Merchants in Ulan Bator, capital of Mongolia, 1925
Jewish merchants in Ulan Bator,
the capital of Mongolia,1925
Many Jews from the town of Manchuria maintained commercial links with Mongolia whose borders were near
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Dr. Benjamin Reuter, Israel)
Chaim Litvin with Mongolian Friends Before his immigration to Israel, Hailar 1963
Chaim Litvin with Mongolian friends
before his immigration to Israel,
Hailar, China 1963.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Chaim Litvin, Israel)
Misha Galilevitch with Mongolian and Russian soldiers ear Hailar, Manchuria 1903
The cattle dealer Misha Galilevitch (center, holding dog)
with Mongolian and Russian soldiers near Hailar,
Manchuria 1903.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Dorothy Estrin, Los Angeles)
The Litvin boys with a friend near a Mongolian tent, Manchuria summer 1946-1959
The Litvin boys and a friend standing outside
a Mongolian summer tent, Manchuria 1946-1959.
Their father, Haim Litvin, who was born in Hailar,
owned a ranch in the area from 1946 to 1959.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Haim Litvin, Israel)
Jewish merchants from Manchuria with a Mongol cattle trader
Jewish mercants from the town of Manchuria
with a Mongol merchant. Extreme left: Reuben
Donen, cattle dealer who arrived in Manchuria from Russia
in 1911.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Zippora Weissman, Israel)
Haim Litvin visiting a Mongol tent camp, Manchuria, China, 1950's
Haim Litvin,ownwe of a ranch near Hailar,
visiting a Mongol tent camp, Manchuria, China, 1950's
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Haim Litvin, Israel)

Chufut-Kale

Chufut-Kale

Turk. "Jew castle"

Ancient town in Crimea near Bakhchisarai, between Sevastopol and Simferopol, Ukraine (now in ruins).

Chufut-Kale was probably originally a Greek fortress dating from the time of Justinian I (sixth century C.E.) and perhaps identical with Phyllae (Phyll), later mentioned as a Khazar possession. It had a settlement of Karaites who probably made their appearance there before the Mongol invasion (13th century).

Chufut-Kale retained its importance as a Karaite center until the Russian conquest of Crimea in 1783. It is referred to in Karaite sources as Sela Ha-Yehudim (Rock of the Jews). The Karaite community numbered over 300 families in the middle of the 17th century. A Hebrew press was established by the Karaites in 1734, for publishing Karaite works; the press continued to function until 1741. Under the Russians, another press operated from 1804 to 1806. In the second half of the 19th century the Karaites abandoned Chufut-Kale. Attention was directed to Chufut-Kale in the 19th century as the most 546 of the 751 Hebrew epitaphs published in his Avnei Zikkaron (Vilna, 1872) were from Chufut-Kale, and biblical manuscripts from there are included in the second Firkovich collection, purchased after his death by the Imperial Public Library in St. Petersburg.

During World War II the Karaites there were spared from Nazi attacks.