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The Jewish Community of Bukhara

Bukhara

An ancient city in the Bukhara Region of Uzbekistan

As of 2015, so many Bukharan Jews lived in the New York City borough of Queens that 108th street is informally known as "Bukharian Broadway." In contrast with the nearly 50,000 Bukharan Jews in Queens, there are about 100 Jews living in Bukhara itself. The city has a 300 year old synagogue, led by Rabbi Aron Sianov. A Jewish School, founded in 1991 immediately after Uzbekistan gained its independence, enrolled 114 students at its founding. Just over 20 years later, most of its pupils are not Jewish; students are instead attracted by the school's reputation for academic excellence, and do not mind the requirement to learn Hebrew. Abraham Ishakov, the chazzan (cantor) at the synagogue, is responsible for linking the community with Bukharan Jews living abroad, and he takes care of the cemetery. Most of the community's resources come from donations from Bukharan Jews living in New York.

HISTORY

The name "Bukharan Jews" was applied to the community by European travelers to the area before the Russian conquest in 1868, and stems from the fact that most of the community at the time lived under the Emir (or Khan) of Bukhara. Meanwhile, the members of the community generally referred to themselves as Israelites (Isro'il), or Jews (Yahudi). They spoke a distinct Tajiki-Jewish dialect, Bukhori. In the modern era the community was concentrated mainly in Israel (or, before 1948, Palestine), the US, and Uzbekistan.

A tradition among Bukharan Jews identifies Bukhara with Habor where the ten tribes were exiled (see Kings 2, 17:6). Bukharan Jewish names, as well as Bukhori expressions, suggest that some of them came from Persia and Khiva. Although Benjamin of Tudela, the Jewish traveler does not mention the town of Bukhara, he mentions a Jewish community in Samarkand at the end of the 12th century which numbered 50,000 (this number was probably not based on personal observation and is not necessarily accurate).

The Jewish community, along with many others, was devastated during the Mongol invasions of the 13th century. Jewish settlement in the town of Bukhara appears to have been renewed during the 14th century, and by the 16th century Bukhara apparently became a center of Jewish life in Central Asia. The Bukharan Khanate was established at the end of the 16th century and was ruled by Sunni Muslims. Jewish residence was restricted to a special quarter (Mahalla), and even there Jews were prohibited from purchasing houses from Muslims. During the 17th and 18th centuries Bukharan Jewry produced poets and translators, whose works were written in the Tajiki-Jewish dialect; one of the most outstanding writers of the Bukharan Jewish community was Yusuf Yahudi.

Attempts were made during the 18th century to forcibly convert the Jews of Bukhara, a practice that resumed in the beginning of the 19th century. Many Jews were forced to accept Islam, creating a class of forced converts, anusim, who appeared to be faithful Muslims, but who secretly observed Judaism. The missionary Joseph Wolff, who visited Bukhara in 1844, found 300 families of forced converts.

Bukharan Jews, like other Jews living in Muslim countries, had to pay a special tax levied on non-Muslims. The tax collector, after receiving the taxes from a Jewish assessor, would slap the Jew on his cheeks (well-respected community members would receive a slight tap).

Towards the end of the 18th century the Jewish community of Bukhara underwent a spiritual and religious decline, due mainly to their isolation from other Jewish communities and Jewish cultural centers. They were unable to produce their own religious leadership; coupled with the forced conversions to Islam, the community increasingly began to assimilate into the general population. The tide began to turn with the arrival, in 1793, of Rabbi Joseph Maman (Mamon) Maghribi, a native of Morocco who later moved to Safed. When he saw the state of the community in Bukhara, he decided to settle there and focused his efforts on an ultimately successful religious revival. He introduced Sephardic liturgy, replacing the Persian liturgy that had been used by the community; the Jews of Bukhara would eventually abandon the Persian liturgy in favor of the Sephardic. The Jewish community increased in size, and was eventually granted permission to settle outside of the Mahalla and establish the "New Mahalla" ("New Jewish Quarter").

Before the Russian conquest of the 19th century, the Jewish community of Bukharan (as well as other towns) was headed by a kalontar, who was elected by the community and approved by the head of the government, as well as by the Emir of Bukhara. The kalontar was aided by the heads of the Old and New Mahallas, who were also elected and who also had to be approved by the Emir. They generally served for life, and acted as judges in litigation cases within the community (criminal cases, or cases involving a Muslim, were tried before a Muslim court).

The Bukharan Jewish community established khomlo, schools for boys similar to the heders of Eastern Europe (there were no schools for girls). Rabbi Maghribi also established a yeshiva. Adults mainly worked in the cloth-dying industry.

The center of the Bukharan Jewish community in British mandate Palestine also began a period of development during the second half of the 19th century. The emigration of Bukharan Jews to Palestine began in 1868 and towards the end of the 19th century there were about 180 Bukharan families living in Jerusalem; by 1936, the Bukharan Jews of Palestine numbered about 2,500, half of whom lived in Jerusalem. The early immigrants included wealthy Jews who wanted to make Jerusalem a spiritual center for their community; in 1892, these pioneers founded the Bukharan Quarter in Jerusalem, which they named Rehovot. Bukhori and Hebrew books, the majority of them religious, were published in Jerusalem for the Bukharan community.

During the second half of the 19th century, the Russian conquests of the area began, and some regions of the Bukharan Khanate (including the towns of Samarkand and Tashkent) were incorporated into Russia. With the conquest, the Emir of Bukhara became the representative of the Russian government, rather than a Sunni Muslim one. As a result of the conquests, there was a major movement of Jews from the Bukharan Khanate, where the Jewish community was blamed for the khanate's defeat and subject to additional persecutions, to the Russian-dominated region of Turkistan, where Jews were not under any special restrictions and, in fact, were regarded as loyal subjects of the Russian Empire with the right to trade freely, purchase land, and to live freely. Many forced converts returned to Judaism once they were under Russian rule.

Under Russian rule, the Jewish community prospered because they were able to expand their trading activities, both within Central Asia and Russia proper. However, facing pressure from Russian merchants and industrialists who were in competition with these new citizens of the Empire, in 1888 the Russian government issued a decree differentiating between the Jews who had lived in the Turkistan region prior to the Russian conquest, and those who had arrived later; "native Jews," who had lived in the area before the conquest, as well as their descendents, were granted equal rights with the local Muslims while those who had arrived after the Russian conquest were legally classified as foreign citizens. Those classified as foreign citizens had their rights restricted, and were ordered to return to the Bukharan khanate by 1905, with additional restrictions placed on where they could live until they returned "to their place of residence." Additionally, all Jews living in the territory of the Turkmen Soviet Republic were ordered expelled; the enforcement of this decree was postponed, however, first until 1909, and then 1910, for fear of damaging Russian trading interests. In the end, implementation of these edicts proved to be impossible, both due to the general disorganization of the Russian Empire's bureaucracy, as well as due to the resistance and lack of cooperation by the Jewish community.

Bukhara was conquered by the Red Army in 1920, after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Many of the wealthiest Bukharan Jewish families lost their rights because, according to the Soviets, before the revolution they had been engaging in exploitation.

At the beginning of the 20th century there were about 20,000 Jews living in the Bukharan Khanate, of whom 4,000-5,000 lived in the city of Bukhara. About 15,000 Bukharan Jews also lived in the region of Turkistan. According to the general population census conducted by the Soviet Union in 1926, there were about 19,000 Bukharan Jews, of whom 18,172 lived in the Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan: 7,740 in Samarkand, 3,314 in Bukhara, 1,347 in Tashkent, and 746 in Kokand. This census was inaccurate, and some estimate that the number of Bukharan Jews in the Soviet Union during the mid-1920s was really 30-35,000. According to a survey carried out by OZET (a Soviet organization to encourage Jewish engagement in agriculture) in 1934, there were over 24,000 Bukharan Jews in the Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan alone, of whom 4,500 lived in villaegs. The 1959 census in the Soviet Union recorded approximately 28,000 Bukharan Jews. About 23,000 lived in Uzbekistan, with the largest numbers in Samarkand, Bukhara, and the urban centers in the Fergana Valley. Another 5,000 lived in the Tadzhik Soviet Socialist Republic. A 1970 estimate would put the figure much lower, at 10,000 Bukharan and 2,000 Ashkenazi Jews living in Bukhara.

Beginning in 1926, and under the leadership of OZET, the Soviet authorities began attempting to establish Jewish collective farms (kolkhozes) in Uzbekistan; some of them even had Hebrew names such as Herut (Freedom) and Ahdut (Unity). In 1929 there were about 26 Jewish collective farms, but they never really caught on within the Jewish community and by the early 1950s only two were left.

Schools where the language of instruction was Hebrew and Bukhori were established for Bukharan children after the 1917 Revolution, influenced by the growing contact between Bukharan Jewry and Ashkenazi Jewish communities as well as by the growing influence of Zionism. These schools continued to teach Hebrew along with Bukhori until at least 1923.

In November 1925, "Rushnoy," a Soviet newspaper in Bukhori, began to be published in Samarkand; in 1930 it was renamed Bayroki Mikhnat ("The Flag of Labor"). During the early 1930s a literary journal, Hayot-i-Mihnati, began to be published. Tashkent became a center for publishing Bukhori books. Additionally, a Bukhori-language theater was established in Samarkand. The Great Terror (also known as "The Great Purge") of 1936-1938 saw the closing of the newspapers, the theater, and the Judeo-Bukharan schools. Additionally, Bukhori books ceased to be published.

Though Bukhori had originally been written with Hebrew letters, during the mid-1930s the language began to be written using Latin and Cyrillic letters. As in other areas in the Soviet Union, Soviet authorities attempted to suppress all expressions of Judaism, and the local population would engage in various expressions of anti-Semitism (there were blood libels levied against Bukharan Jews in 1926, 1930, 1961, and 1962). Particularly after the Six Day War in 1967, Bukharan Jews were compelled to participate in anti-Israel demonstrations, though there were occasions when local Jews refused to sign petitions condemning Israel or to speak at anti-Israel gatherings.

About 8,000 Bukharan Jews emigrated to the State of Israel between 1972 and 1975. An additional 2,000 Bukharan Jews emigrated to the United States, especially to New York, which became a third center of the Bukharan Jewish community. During the 1980s there was a second wave of emigration from Bukhara to Israel and New York.
Place Type:
City
ID Number:
229348
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Nearby places:

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DEMIROV, TEMIROV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name.

This family name derives from an occupation, profession or trade (also connected with raw material, finished product or implements associated with that trade). Names indicating occupation, profession or trade are widespread among Jews. The extensive range of Jewish names deriving from occupations illustrates the variety of their activities in all fields.

This family name, in which the Slavic ending "-ov" means "of/from" and stands for "son of", is derived from demir, the Turkish term for "iron". The Uzbek equivalent is temir. Originally, the term could have been used as a nickname for an "iron dealer"or a "smith" This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara, Uzbekistan, in Central Asia.  

Demirov  is documented as a Jewish family name with the Israeli soccer player Tomer Demirov (b. 1995).

AKILOV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is derived from a personal characteristic or nickname. 

This family name was derived from oqil, an Uzbek term meaning “wise”, “shrewd” and used as a nickname for an intelligent person. The Russian ending "-ov" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". Originally, this family name could have been a nickname.  

Nicknames have been used to identify people since ancient times by Jews and non-Jew alike. In the Jewish tradition, the boundary between personal names and nicknames has always been fluid, resulting in a wide variety of family names. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Distinguished bearers of the family name Akilov include the Israeli dancer Galia Akilov, a member of the Akilov 200-year dynasty of Jewish musicians from Bukhara.

YAGUDAYEV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a patronymic surname based on a male ancestor's personal name, in this case of biblical origin.

Yagudayev is derived from the Russian pronunciation of the given name Yahuda, an equivalent of Yehuda. The Russian ending "-ev" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". This surname is therefore a patronymic, derived from a male ancestor's personal name. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Literally "homage to God" in Hebrew, the biblical Yehuda/Juda(h), was the fourth son of Jacob and Leah, (surnamed Ari(eh), that is the "lion" (Genesis 49.38).

Yagudayev is documented as a Jewish family name with the 21st century Uzbekistan-born American pediatrician Yakov Yagudayev

TOLMASOV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is derived from a personal characteristic or nickname. 

This family name was derived from tolmas, an Uzbek term meaning “tireless”, “unwearying” and used as a nickname for a strong person. The Russian ending "-ov" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". Originally, this family name could have been a nickname.  

Nicknames have been used to identify people since ancient times by Jews and non-Jew alike. In the Jewish tradition, the boundary between personal names and nicknames has always been fluid, resulting in a wide variety of family names. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Distinguished bearers of the family name Tolmasov include the Samarkand-born American singer Avrohom (Avrom, Abram, Abram) Gavrielovich Tolmasov (b. 1956), one of the founders of the musical culture of Bukharan Jews of modern times or the so-called post-Soviet period.

SARIKOV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is derived from a personal characteristic or nickname. 

This family name was derived from sariq, an Uzbek term meaning “yellow” and used as a nickname for fair-haired people. The Russian ending "-ov" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". Originally, this family name could have been a nickname.  

Nicknames have been used to identify people since ancient times by Jews and non-Jew alike. In the Jewish tradition, the boundary between personal names and nicknames has always been fluid, resulting in a wide variety of family names. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Sarikov is documented as a Jewish family name with Amnon Sarikov (1932-2007), a former resident of Jerusalem, Israel.

SACHAKOV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birthplace, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

This name is derived from the name of the town Sochak in the eastern outskirts of Samarkand in Uzbekistan. The Russian ending "-ov" means "of/from". Places, regions and countries of origin or residence are some of the sources of Jewish family names. But, unless the family has reliable records, names based on toponymics cannot prove the exact origin of the family. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Sachakov is documented as a Jewish family name with Nisonhay Sachakov (1912-1981), a former resident of Tashent, Uzbekistan.

MUSAYEV, MOUSSAIEFF

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a patronymic surname based on a male ancestor's personal name, in this case of biblical origin.

This family name is derived from Musa, the Arabic equivalent of the biblical male personal name Moshe. The biblical name-etymology is "I drew him out of the water" (Exodus 2.10). The Russian ending "-ev" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". This surname is therefore a patronymic, derived from a male ancestor's personal name. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Distinguished bearers of the family name Moussaieff include the Israeli businessman Shlomo Moussaieff (1925-2015), founder of Moussaieff Jewellers Ltd.

LEVIEV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name usually derives from lineage (priestly, Levite, convert). Leviev is derived from the Hebrew biblical personal name Levi/Levy. The Russian ending "-ov" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". This surname is therefore a patronymic, derived from a male ancestor's personal name. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

The Levites are descendants of Levi, the third son of Jacob and Leah. 

Distinguished bearers of the family name Leviev include the Uzbekistan-born Israeli businessman, philanthropist and investor Lev Avnerovich Leviev (b. 1956), known as the "King of Diamonds".

KIMYAGAROV, KIMYAGAROF

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name.

This family name derives from an occupation, profession or trade (also connected with raw material, finished product or implements associated with that trade). Names indicating occupation, profession or trade are widespread among Jews. The extensive range of Jewish names deriving from occupations illustrates the variety of their activities in all fields.

This family name is derived from kimyogar, an Uzbek term meaning “chemist”.  The Russian ending "-ov" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". Originally, this family name could have been a nickname given to someone who produced or marketed dyes for textiles. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Kimyagarov is documented as a Jewish family name with Mashiah Kimyagarov (d. 1984), a former resident of Jerusalem, Israel.   

KATAYEV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is derived from a personal characteristic or nickname. 

This family name was derived from katta, an Uzbek term meaning “big”, “large”, “high”.  The Russian ending "-ev" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". Originally, this family name could have been a nickname.  

Nicknames have been used to identify people since ancient times by Jews and non-Jew alike. In the Jewish tradition, the boundary between personal names and nicknames has always been fluid, resulting in a wide variety of family names. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Katayev is documented as a Jewish family name with Esther Katayev (1953-2009), a former resident of Ramla, Israel.

KARSHIGIEV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birthplace, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

This name is derived from the name of the city Qarshi in southern Uzbekistan. The Russian ending "-ev" means "of/from". Places, regions and countries of origin or residence are some of the sources of Jewish family names. But, unless the family has reliable records, names based on toponymics cannot prove the exact origin of the family. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Karshigiev is documented as a Jewish family name with Yitzhak Karshigiev (1934-2015), a former resident of Ramla, Israel.

GILKAROV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name.

This family name derives from an occupation, profession or trade (also connected with raw material, finished product or implements associated with that trade). Names indicating occupation, profession or trade are widespread among Jews. The extensive range of Jewish names deriving from occupations illustrates the variety of their activities in all fields.

This family name is derived from gilkor, an Uzbek term meaning “plasterer”.  The Russian ending "-ov" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". Originally, this family name could have been a nickname. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Gilkarov is documented as a Jewish family name with Ela Gilkarov (1948-2003), a former resident of Sderot, Israel.

DEHKANOV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name.

This family name derives from an occupation, profession or trade (also connected with raw material, finished product or implements associated with that trade). Names indicating occupation, profession or trade are widespread among Jews. The extensive range of Jewish names deriving from occupations illustrates the variety of their activities in all fields.

This family name is derived from dehqon, an Uzbek term meaning “peasant”.  The Russian ending "-ov" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". Originally, this family name could have been a nickname. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Dehkanov is documented as a Jewish family name with Mazal Marusia Dehkanov (1927- 1994), a former resident of Israel.

DANIELOV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a patronymic surname derived from a male ancestor's personal name, in this case of biblical origin.

Danielov, in which the Slavic ending "-ov" stands for "son of", is a form of Daniel. Daniel, meaning "God has judged" in Hebrew, was the name of the son of David and Abigail (1 Chronicles 3.1) and of the biblical prophet of the book of Daniel. This biblical name became a family name and assumed several variants. Daniel took suffixes from various languages to form patronymics indicating descent in the male line (the German "-sohn", the Italian "-i", the Slavic "-vitz/vitch", the Latin "-ius"). Danielillo ("little Daniel" in Italian) is recorded in the 17th century, Danill in the early 18th century, Daniels in the 18th century, Danigel, Dannihl, Danielis and Tannigel in the late 18th century. Family name Danielov is found among the Jews of Bukhara and Bulgaria.     

Danielov is documented as a Jewish family name with Amnon Danielov (1925- 2005), a former resident of Petah Tikva.

BALKHIYEV, BALKHIEV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birthplace, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

This name is derived from the name of the town Balkh in the Balkh Province of Afghanistan near the city of Mazar-e Sharif. The Russian ending "-ev" means "of/from". Places, regions and countries of origin or residence are some of the sources of Jewish family names. But, unless the family has reliable records, names based on toponymics cannot prove the exact origin of the family. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Balkhiev is documented as a Jewish family name with Tamara Balkhiev (1915 – 2010), a former resident of Petah Tikva, Israel

AKBASHEV, AKBASHOF

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is derived from a personal characteristic or nickname. 

This family name was derived from oq bosh, an Uzbek term meaning “white head” and used as a nickname for elderly people. The Russian ending "-ev" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". Originally, this family name could have been a nickname.  

Nicknames have been used to identify people since ancient times by Jews and non-Jew alike. In the Jewish tradition, the boundary between personal names and nicknames has always been fluid, resulting in a wide variety of family names. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Akbashev is documented as a Jewish family name with Emma Akbashev, a physician in Jerusalem, Israel.  

AKSAKALOV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is derived from a personal characteristic or nickname. 

This family name was derived from oq soqola, an Uzbek term meaning “white beard” and used as a nickname for elderly people. The Russian ending "-ov" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". Originally, this family name could have been a nickname.  

Nicknames have been used to identify people since ancient times by Jews and non-Jew alike. In the Jewish tradition, the boundary between personal names and nicknames has always been fluid, resulting in a wide variety of family names. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Aksakalov is documented as a Jewish family name with Maya Aksakalov, a Content Development Manager at Tel Aviv University.

Interior view of the Bukharan Synagogue
in Samarkand, Uzbekistan )USSR( 1984.
Photo: Zeev Meshel, Israel.
Group of Jewish merchants from Mashhad
in Shiraz, Bukhara (USSR) c.1935.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Nino Hakimi, New York)
Praying in the Bukharan Syangogue in Fergana,
Uzbekistan (USSR) 1976.
Photo: Valery Fayerman, USSR.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Valery Fayerman, USSR)
Jews from Mashhad, living in Shiraz,
during a visiti in Bukhara, Uzbekistan (USSR) 1930's.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Nino Hakimi, New York)

Exterior view of a Bukharan Synagogue.
Andijan, Uzbekistan, USSR, 1976
Photo: Valery Fayerman, Russia
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Valery Fayerman, Russia)

Praying in a synagogue in Bukhara,
Uzbekistan, USSR, 1976
Photo: Valery Fayerman, USSR
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Valery Fayerman, USSR)
Praying in the Bukharan Synagogue
in Tashkent, Uzbekistan )USSR( 1976.
Photo: Valery Fireman, USSR.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Valery Fireman, USSR)
Dykman, Shlomo (1917-1965), translator and literary critic, born in Warsaw, Poland. He attended school at the "Hinuch" Hebrew Gymnasium, and then studied the classics at the Institute of Jewish Studies at Warsaw University. From 1935 he began publishing translations and literary reviews, including translations from Hebrew into Polish. In 1939, he published a Polish translation of all of H.N.Bialik's poems.

When in 1940 Poland was partitioned between Germany and the Soviet Union, he fled to Bukhara, in Soviet Central Asia, where he taught Hebrew. In 1944, he was arrested by the Soviet authorities and accused of Zionist and Counter-revolutionary activities. He was initially sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to five to ten years hard labour, which he served in the Vorkuta coals mines in the Arctic region of the northern Urals. He was released in 1957 and returned to Warsaw. In 1960 he emigrated to Israel and settled in Jerusalem.

Dykman translated many Greek and Latin classics into Hebrew. Among his translations were the tragedies of "Aeschylus" and "Sophocles", the poem "Aeneid" by Virgil and "Metamorphoses" by Ovid. He was awarded the Israel Prize posthumously in 1965.

Elkan Nathan Adler (1861-1946), traveler and collector of Hebrew, Judeo-Persian, and Judeo-Tajik manuscripts from the Jewish Persian and Bukharan communities, born in London, England, the son of Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler, chief rabbi of the United Kingdom. He published numerous articles on the history of the Jews of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. He travelled extensively with the aim of studying the Jewish communities of Egypt, Eretz Israel, Syria, Yemen, Central Asia, India and Iran which at the time were not well known by European Jewish scholars. During his travels to Teheran in 1896 and to Bukhara in 1897, he acquired a rich collection of Hebrew and Judeo-Persian manuscripts.

The manuscript collection includes both secular and religious works and comprises transliterations of Persian classical poetry, original poems in Hebrew and Judeo-Persian, stories, folklore, charms, treatises on medicine and astrology, medical prescriptions and dictionaries, calendars, accounts of religious persecution, biblical and apocryphal texts, dictionaries of biblical and Talmudic terms, liturgical hymns, prayer books, works on Kabbalah and Jewish commentaries written by European religious authors of the Middle Ages.  

In 1921 Adler sold his manuscript and book collections to the Hebrew Union College of Cincinnati and the Jewish Theological Seminary of New York. In his will he left his personal archives to the Jewish Theological Seminary of New York.    

David Alexander (Dawid Aleksander) Haltrecht (1880-1938), painter, born in Wloclawek, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire), into a rabbinical family. He started working as a weaver in Lodz, but in 1903 he moved to Odessa where he began studying painting. He soon pursued his studies in Munich, Paris and Rome. Before WW1 he traveled extensively to Persia (now Iran), Bukhara and other places in Central Asia. In 1914 he was in Schreiberhau, a town in Silesia, Germany (now Szklarska Poręba in Poland), and then moved to Berlin. He continued his travels during 1925-1930 when he visited China and Mongolia. After 1931 he lived in the Soviet Union where he died in Moscow. Author of genre scenes, landscapes, types and portraits created in impressionist and post-impressionist style, his works are inspired by his trips to the Central and East Asia. A selection of Haltrecht’s paintings are on display at National Museum in Warsaw, Poland.  

Bruno Landsberg (1920-2017), businessman, industrialist, founder and chairman of Sano Ltd. company, born in Chernivtsi (Czernowitz), Ukraine (then in Romania). In 1934 the family moved to Bucharest, but in 1940 they returned to Czernowitz that was annexed by the Soviet Union in June 1940.  Following the German attack against the Soviet Union in June 1941, he fled along with his wife to Saratov in Russia and later he moved to Bukhara in the Soviet Central Asia. He started studying literature, history and economics at the University of Saratov and complete his studies in Romania, after his return to Bucharest in late 1944. After the establishment of the Communist regime in Romania, Landsberg worked for the Municipality of Bucharest and along with his father in a family owned small textile business, until it was nationalized in 1948. He immigrated to Israel in 1952 settling in Kvutzat Schiller – Gan Shlomo, where he worked on the local banana plantation. He later moved to Tel Aviv and worked for some time for Hayl Hamada (Hamad), the precursor of Raphael - Advanced Weapons Systems Ltd.

As of 1955 Landsberg entered the detergents business, first as a sales manager, then as a distributor, until eventually in 1961 he set up in Bat Yam his own plant with only four employees, one machine and three products that in 1965 became Sano Ltd. The company expanded and turned into a major manufacturer of detergents products that in 2017 had about 2,000 employees and produced over 2,000 products sold in Israel and in many other countries, including United Kingdom, Hungary, Romania, and Ukraine.

Samarkand

The capital of Samarkand Oblast, Uzbekistan.

Jews are mentioned there from hearsay for the first time by Benjamin of Tudela (12th century) as a large community. It was apparently destroyed when the town was captured by Bab Mehmet Khan in 1598. The Jews later suffered from Muslim oppression. In 1843, at the request of the Jews, a special area was allocated to them for the construction of a Jewish quarter; they were led by a Nasi, named Kulantur, approved by the Emir of Bukhara. The situation of the Jews improved after the Russian conquest (1868), and in 1887 there were 3,792 Jews in Samarkand, the overwhelming majority of them of the Bukharan community.

Settlement of Ashkenazi Jews from Russia began with the construction of the railroad to Samarkand in 1888; they played an important role in the commercial development of the city. In 1897 there were 4,307 Jews (c. 8% of the total population). Their number subsequently increased with Jewish immigration from the emirate of Bukhara and Russia.

The Russian authorities were opposed to this immigration, and, in contrast to the local Jews, the “foreign” Jews (from Bukhara) and the Jews of European Russia were subjected to persecutions. In 1907 the Jewish population numbered 5,266.

With the outbreak of the revolution of 1917, the Zionist movement in Samarkand gained in strength and served as a factor unifying the various communities there. A communal center and Hebrew secondary school were established. Under the Soviet regime a Jewish-Bukharan branch of the communist party was formed in Samarkand; for a number of years it carried on a struggle with the Yevsektsiya (Jewish section of the Soviet Communist Party) over the right of the local Jews to maintain a Hebrew school. The Yevsektsiya took steps to oppose the national and religious traditions of the Jews. By 1933, 15 of the synagogues in the Jewish quarter had been closed down. In 1935 Sovietization of the Jewish museum founded in 1922 expurgated its national-religious character and the evidence of the close ties existing between the Jews of Samarkand and Eretz Israel. The Jews of the Bukharan community numbered 7,740 in 1926, and 9,832 in 1935 (8% of the total population); 8,898 lived in the Jewish quarter, whose name was changed in 1926 to Eastern Quarter, while 95% of the inhabitants were Jews. The Jewish school, whose language of instruction was Tajiki (or Judeo-Tajiki; the language spoken by the Bukharan Jews), was attended by over 1,400 children. During World War II many Jewish refugees from the western part of the Soviet Union arrived in Samarkand.

In the late 1960s the Jewish population was estimated at 15,000 (mainly Bukharan Jews), most of whom resided in the former Jewish quarter. There remained one synagogue in the old part of the city where the Jewish quarter is located; it included a separate section for the Ashkenazi Jews.

Samarkand retained a Jewish cemetery. In 1951 the Rabbi Chakham Ezekiel was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for religious activity, but was released in 1957, having served six years. In March 1964 the community was compelled by the authorities to protest against the sending of matzot from Israel and the baking of matzot was carried on at home.

In 1997, after the Aliya to Israel, there were 7,000 Jews in Samarkand.

Uzbekistan

Oʻzbekiston Respublikasi - Republic of Uzbekistan
A republic in central Asia, until 1991 part of the Soviet Union.

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 3,200 out of 33,500,000.  Main Jewish organization:

The Jewish Community of Uzbekistan
Phone: 998 901 760 601
Email: rimma_golovina@mail.ru; janetta2004@mail.ru 

 

HISTORY

The Jews in Uzbekistan were affiliated with two communities: (1) the ancient one, the Jews of Bukhara, who speak a Tajiki-Jewish dialect; (2) the new one, of eastern European origin. According to their tradition, the Bukharan Jews emigrated from Persia at the time of the persecutions of king Peroz (458-485), while some consider themselves as descendants of the exiles of Samaria, on the assumption that “Habor” (ii Kings 17:6) is Bukhara. Anthropological examinations undertaken by l.V. Ushanin in 1926-29 proved that they originated in the Middle East (of the pure Armenoid type), also there is no information on their exact non-Jewish origin. Precise information on the spiritual works of the Jews of Uzbekistan is, however, only available from the 14th century onward.

Jews of Uzbekistan emigrated to Khazaria and China because of their location at the crossroads of the caravans that traveled there. The principal traffic between the Muslim world and Itil (Atil), the capital of Khazaria, passed through northern Uzbekistan, and the information on “many Jews who came to the king of the Khazars from the towns of the Muslims” (the author Al-Mas’udi of the tenth-century) and the Jews who came “from Khurasan and strengthened the hands of the inhabitants of the country” (the anonymous “Cambridge document”) refers essentially to the Jews of Uzbekistan, which was considered as an annexed territory of Iranian-eastern Khurasan.

There is a tradition concerning another wave of Jewish emigration from Iran to Uzbekistan as a result of the Mongolian conquests of the 13th century, and the surnames of the Jews of Uzbekistan show that even during subsequent periods emigrants from Iranian-speaking communities of the west and the south were integrated among them. In modern times, however, the fanatical Muslim domination severely prejudiced the growth and economic development of the community. The Russian conquest of the 19th century came as a blessing, especially in those regions subjected to direct Russian rule, where the local Jews were granted complete judicial equality with the Muslim natives and enjoyed rights which the Russian government withheld from the Jews of eastern Europe (such as the acquisition of real estate). A migration movement from Bukhara to Tashkent continued through several generations. The economic progress of these Jews was also reflected by their considerable contribution to the Jewish settlement of Eretz Israel. The Soviet regime, which liquidated private commerce, brought about the transfer or the more than 200,000 local Jews into administrative positions, industry and agriculture.

The Soviet regime did not bring about any considerable emigration of east European Jews to Uzbekistan  because of linguistic difficulties and the warring gangs of Muslim insurgents (Basmachi), of the 1920’s and 1930’s. World War 2, however, suddenly converted Uzbekistan into an important Jewish center. The Jews of western and central European USSR found refuge there, and Tashkent accommodated some of the Jewish institutions of Moscow. Many Jews who had been deported by the Soviet regime between 1939 and 1941 from the annexed eastern parts of Poland and the Baltic states to labor camps or exile in Siberia because of “bourgeois” class origin or political affiliations (Zionists or socialists) also migrated to Uzbekistan upon their release from the camp or place of exile. Some succeeded in continuing on to Palestine through Persia, either as polish soldiers in general Anders army or as orphaned children (the so-called Teheran children). With the retreat of the German army from Eastern Europe, many of the refugees and evacuees returned to their places of origin, but a considerable number of Ashkenazi east European Jews settled in Uzbekistan and became integrated in administration, industry and education there. A certain rapprochement between them and the local Jews resulted from the propagation of the Tashkent language within both communities and the feeling of the common Jewish fate, which was emphasized by the events of the war. The census of 1959 registered 94,344 Jews (1.2% of the total population) in Uzbekistan; 50,445 of them lived in the capital of the republic Tashkent. Only 19,266 of them declared Tajiki to be their native language; about 27,560 Yiddish; and the remainder Tashkent. The 1970 Soviet census showed 103,000 Jews in Uzbekistan.

In 1997, after the aliya to Israel, there were 35,000 Jews in Uzbekistan.

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The Jewish Community of Bukhara
Bukhara

An ancient city in the Bukhara Region of Uzbekistan

As of 2015, so many Bukharan Jews lived in the New York City borough of Queens that 108th street is informally known as "Bukharian Broadway." In contrast with the nearly 50,000 Bukharan Jews in Queens, there are about 100 Jews living in Bukhara itself. The city has a 300 year old synagogue, led by Rabbi Aron Sianov. A Jewish School, founded in 1991 immediately after Uzbekistan gained its independence, enrolled 114 students at its founding. Just over 20 years later, most of its pupils are not Jewish; students are instead attracted by the school's reputation for academic excellence, and do not mind the requirement to learn Hebrew. Abraham Ishakov, the chazzan (cantor) at the synagogue, is responsible for linking the community with Bukharan Jews living abroad, and he takes care of the cemetery. Most of the community's resources come from donations from Bukharan Jews living in New York.

HISTORY

The name "Bukharan Jews" was applied to the community by European travelers to the area before the Russian conquest in 1868, and stems from the fact that most of the community at the time lived under the Emir (or Khan) of Bukhara. Meanwhile, the members of the community generally referred to themselves as Israelites (Isro'il), or Jews (Yahudi). They spoke a distinct Tajiki-Jewish dialect, Bukhori. In the modern era the community was concentrated mainly in Israel (or, before 1948, Palestine), the US, and Uzbekistan.

A tradition among Bukharan Jews identifies Bukhara with Habor where the ten tribes were exiled (see Kings 2, 17:6). Bukharan Jewish names, as well as Bukhori expressions, suggest that some of them came from Persia and Khiva. Although Benjamin of Tudela, the Jewish traveler does not mention the town of Bukhara, he mentions a Jewish community in Samarkand at the end of the 12th century which numbered 50,000 (this number was probably not based on personal observation and is not necessarily accurate).

The Jewish community, along with many others, was devastated during the Mongol invasions of the 13th century. Jewish settlement in the town of Bukhara appears to have been renewed during the 14th century, and by the 16th century Bukhara apparently became a center of Jewish life in Central Asia. The Bukharan Khanate was established at the end of the 16th century and was ruled by Sunni Muslims. Jewish residence was restricted to a special quarter (Mahalla), and even there Jews were prohibited from purchasing houses from Muslims. During the 17th and 18th centuries Bukharan Jewry produced poets and translators, whose works were written in the Tajiki-Jewish dialect; one of the most outstanding writers of the Bukharan Jewish community was Yusuf Yahudi.

Attempts were made during the 18th century to forcibly convert the Jews of Bukhara, a practice that resumed in the beginning of the 19th century. Many Jews were forced to accept Islam, creating a class of forced converts, anusim, who appeared to be faithful Muslims, but who secretly observed Judaism. The missionary Joseph Wolff, who visited Bukhara in 1844, found 300 families of forced converts.

Bukharan Jews, like other Jews living in Muslim countries, had to pay a special tax levied on non-Muslims. The tax collector, after receiving the taxes from a Jewish assessor, would slap the Jew on his cheeks (well-respected community members would receive a slight tap).

Towards the end of the 18th century the Jewish community of Bukhara underwent a spiritual and religious decline, due mainly to their isolation from other Jewish communities and Jewish cultural centers. They were unable to produce their own religious leadership; coupled with the forced conversions to Islam, the community increasingly began to assimilate into the general population. The tide began to turn with the arrival, in 1793, of Rabbi Joseph Maman (Mamon) Maghribi, a native of Morocco who later moved to Safed. When he saw the state of the community in Bukhara, he decided to settle there and focused his efforts on an ultimately successful religious revival. He introduced Sephardic liturgy, replacing the Persian liturgy that had been used by the community; the Jews of Bukhara would eventually abandon the Persian liturgy in favor of the Sephardic. The Jewish community increased in size, and was eventually granted permission to settle outside of the Mahalla and establish the "New Mahalla" ("New Jewish Quarter").

Before the Russian conquest of the 19th century, the Jewish community of Bukharan (as well as other towns) was headed by a kalontar, who was elected by the community and approved by the head of the government, as well as by the Emir of Bukhara. The kalontar was aided by the heads of the Old and New Mahallas, who were also elected and who also had to be approved by the Emir. They generally served for life, and acted as judges in litigation cases within the community (criminal cases, or cases involving a Muslim, were tried before a Muslim court).

The Bukharan Jewish community established khomlo, schools for boys similar to the heders of Eastern Europe (there were no schools for girls). Rabbi Maghribi also established a yeshiva. Adults mainly worked in the cloth-dying industry.

The center of the Bukharan Jewish community in British mandate Palestine also began a period of development during the second half of the 19th century. The emigration of Bukharan Jews to Palestine began in 1868 and towards the end of the 19th century there were about 180 Bukharan families living in Jerusalem; by 1936, the Bukharan Jews of Palestine numbered about 2,500, half of whom lived in Jerusalem. The early immigrants included wealthy Jews who wanted to make Jerusalem a spiritual center for their community; in 1892, these pioneers founded the Bukharan Quarter in Jerusalem, which they named Rehovot. Bukhori and Hebrew books, the majority of them religious, were published in Jerusalem for the Bukharan community.

During the second half of the 19th century, the Russian conquests of the area began, and some regions of the Bukharan Khanate (including the towns of Samarkand and Tashkent) were incorporated into Russia. With the conquest, the Emir of Bukhara became the representative of the Russian government, rather than a Sunni Muslim one. As a result of the conquests, there was a major movement of Jews from the Bukharan Khanate, where the Jewish community was blamed for the khanate's defeat and subject to additional persecutions, to the Russian-dominated region of Turkistan, where Jews were not under any special restrictions and, in fact, were regarded as loyal subjects of the Russian Empire with the right to trade freely, purchase land, and to live freely. Many forced converts returned to Judaism once they were under Russian rule.

Under Russian rule, the Jewish community prospered because they were able to expand their trading activities, both within Central Asia and Russia proper. However, facing pressure from Russian merchants and industrialists who were in competition with these new citizens of the Empire, in 1888 the Russian government issued a decree differentiating between the Jews who had lived in the Turkistan region prior to the Russian conquest, and those who had arrived later; "native Jews," who had lived in the area before the conquest, as well as their descendents, were granted equal rights with the local Muslims while those who had arrived after the Russian conquest were legally classified as foreign citizens. Those classified as foreign citizens had their rights restricted, and were ordered to return to the Bukharan khanate by 1905, with additional restrictions placed on where they could live until they returned "to their place of residence." Additionally, all Jews living in the territory of the Turkmen Soviet Republic were ordered expelled; the enforcement of this decree was postponed, however, first until 1909, and then 1910, for fear of damaging Russian trading interests. In the end, implementation of these edicts proved to be impossible, both due to the general disorganization of the Russian Empire's bureaucracy, as well as due to the resistance and lack of cooperation by the Jewish community.

Bukhara was conquered by the Red Army in 1920, after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Many of the wealthiest Bukharan Jewish families lost their rights because, according to the Soviets, before the revolution they had been engaging in exploitation.

At the beginning of the 20th century there were about 20,000 Jews living in the Bukharan Khanate, of whom 4,000-5,000 lived in the city of Bukhara. About 15,000 Bukharan Jews also lived in the region of Turkistan. According to the general population census conducted by the Soviet Union in 1926, there were about 19,000 Bukharan Jews, of whom 18,172 lived in the Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan: 7,740 in Samarkand, 3,314 in Bukhara, 1,347 in Tashkent, and 746 in Kokand. This census was inaccurate, and some estimate that the number of Bukharan Jews in the Soviet Union during the mid-1920s was really 30-35,000. According to a survey carried out by OZET (a Soviet organization to encourage Jewish engagement in agriculture) in 1934, there were over 24,000 Bukharan Jews in the Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan alone, of whom 4,500 lived in villaegs. The 1959 census in the Soviet Union recorded approximately 28,000 Bukharan Jews. About 23,000 lived in Uzbekistan, with the largest numbers in Samarkand, Bukhara, and the urban centers in the Fergana Valley. Another 5,000 lived in the Tadzhik Soviet Socialist Republic. A 1970 estimate would put the figure much lower, at 10,000 Bukharan and 2,000 Ashkenazi Jews living in Bukhara.

Beginning in 1926, and under the leadership of OZET, the Soviet authorities began attempting to establish Jewish collective farms (kolkhozes) in Uzbekistan; some of them even had Hebrew names such as Herut (Freedom) and Ahdut (Unity). In 1929 there were about 26 Jewish collective farms, but they never really caught on within the Jewish community and by the early 1950s only two were left.

Schools where the language of instruction was Hebrew and Bukhori were established for Bukharan children after the 1917 Revolution, influenced by the growing contact between Bukharan Jewry and Ashkenazi Jewish communities as well as by the growing influence of Zionism. These schools continued to teach Hebrew along with Bukhori until at least 1923.

In November 1925, "Rushnoy," a Soviet newspaper in Bukhori, began to be published in Samarkand; in 1930 it was renamed Bayroki Mikhnat ("The Flag of Labor"). During the early 1930s a literary journal, Hayot-i-Mihnati, began to be published. Tashkent became a center for publishing Bukhori books. Additionally, a Bukhori-language theater was established in Samarkand. The Great Terror (also known as "The Great Purge") of 1936-1938 saw the closing of the newspapers, the theater, and the Judeo-Bukharan schools. Additionally, Bukhori books ceased to be published.

Though Bukhori had originally been written with Hebrew letters, during the mid-1930s the language began to be written using Latin and Cyrillic letters. As in other areas in the Soviet Union, Soviet authorities attempted to suppress all expressions of Judaism, and the local population would engage in various expressions of anti-Semitism (there were blood libels levied against Bukharan Jews in 1926, 1930, 1961, and 1962). Particularly after the Six Day War in 1967, Bukharan Jews were compelled to participate in anti-Israel demonstrations, though there were occasions when local Jews refused to sign petitions condemning Israel or to speak at anti-Israel gatherings.

About 8,000 Bukharan Jews emigrated to the State of Israel between 1972 and 1975. An additional 2,000 Bukharan Jews emigrated to the United States, especially to New York, which became a third center of the Bukharan Jewish community. During the 1980s there was a second wave of emigration from Bukhara to Israel and New York.
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People

Uzbekistan
Samarkand

Uzbekistan

Oʻzbekiston Respublikasi - Republic of Uzbekistan
A republic in central Asia, until 1991 part of the Soviet Union.

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 3,200 out of 33,500,000.  Main Jewish organization:

The Jewish Community of Uzbekistan
Phone: 998 901 760 601
Email: rimma_golovina@mail.ru; janetta2004@mail.ru 

 

HISTORY

The Jews in Uzbekistan were affiliated with two communities: (1) the ancient one, the Jews of Bukhara, who speak a Tajiki-Jewish dialect; (2) the new one, of eastern European origin. According to their tradition, the Bukharan Jews emigrated from Persia at the time of the persecutions of king Peroz (458-485), while some consider themselves as descendants of the exiles of Samaria, on the assumption that “Habor” (ii Kings 17:6) is Bukhara. Anthropological examinations undertaken by l.V. Ushanin in 1926-29 proved that they originated in the Middle East (of the pure Armenoid type), also there is no information on their exact non-Jewish origin. Precise information on the spiritual works of the Jews of Uzbekistan is, however, only available from the 14th century onward.

Jews of Uzbekistan emigrated to Khazaria and China because of their location at the crossroads of the caravans that traveled there. The principal traffic between the Muslim world and Itil (Atil), the capital of Khazaria, passed through northern Uzbekistan, and the information on “many Jews who came to the king of the Khazars from the towns of the Muslims” (the author Al-Mas’udi of the tenth-century) and the Jews who came “from Khurasan and strengthened the hands of the inhabitants of the country” (the anonymous “Cambridge document”) refers essentially to the Jews of Uzbekistan, which was considered as an annexed territory of Iranian-eastern Khurasan.

There is a tradition concerning another wave of Jewish emigration from Iran to Uzbekistan as a result of the Mongolian conquests of the 13th century, and the surnames of the Jews of Uzbekistan show that even during subsequent periods emigrants from Iranian-speaking communities of the west and the south were integrated among them. In modern times, however, the fanatical Muslim domination severely prejudiced the growth and economic development of the community. The Russian conquest of the 19th century came as a blessing, especially in those regions subjected to direct Russian rule, where the local Jews were granted complete judicial equality with the Muslim natives and enjoyed rights which the Russian government withheld from the Jews of eastern Europe (such as the acquisition of real estate). A migration movement from Bukhara to Tashkent continued through several generations. The economic progress of these Jews was also reflected by their considerable contribution to the Jewish settlement of Eretz Israel. The Soviet regime, which liquidated private commerce, brought about the transfer or the more than 200,000 local Jews into administrative positions, industry and agriculture.

The Soviet regime did not bring about any considerable emigration of east European Jews to Uzbekistan  because of linguistic difficulties and the warring gangs of Muslim insurgents (Basmachi), of the 1920’s and 1930’s. World War 2, however, suddenly converted Uzbekistan into an important Jewish center. The Jews of western and central European USSR found refuge there, and Tashkent accommodated some of the Jewish institutions of Moscow. Many Jews who had been deported by the Soviet regime between 1939 and 1941 from the annexed eastern parts of Poland and the Baltic states to labor camps or exile in Siberia because of “bourgeois” class origin or political affiliations (Zionists or socialists) also migrated to Uzbekistan upon their release from the camp or place of exile. Some succeeded in continuing on to Palestine through Persia, either as polish soldiers in general Anders army or as orphaned children (the so-called Teheran children). With the retreat of the German army from Eastern Europe, many of the refugees and evacuees returned to their places of origin, but a considerable number of Ashkenazi east European Jews settled in Uzbekistan and became integrated in administration, industry and education there. A certain rapprochement between them and the local Jews resulted from the propagation of the Tashkent language within both communities and the feeling of the common Jewish fate, which was emphasized by the events of the war. The census of 1959 registered 94,344 Jews (1.2% of the total population) in Uzbekistan; 50,445 of them lived in the capital of the republic Tashkent. Only 19,266 of them declared Tajiki to be their native language; about 27,560 Yiddish; and the remainder Tashkent. The 1970 Soviet census showed 103,000 Jews in Uzbekistan.

In 1997, after the aliya to Israel, there were 35,000 Jews in Uzbekistan.

Samarkand

The capital of Samarkand Oblast, Uzbekistan.

Jews are mentioned there from hearsay for the first time by Benjamin of Tudela (12th century) as a large community. It was apparently destroyed when the town was captured by Bab Mehmet Khan in 1598. The Jews later suffered from Muslim oppression. In 1843, at the request of the Jews, a special area was allocated to them for the construction of a Jewish quarter; they were led by a Nasi, named Kulantur, approved by the Emir of Bukhara. The situation of the Jews improved after the Russian conquest (1868), and in 1887 there were 3,792 Jews in Samarkand, the overwhelming majority of them of the Bukharan community.

Settlement of Ashkenazi Jews from Russia began with the construction of the railroad to Samarkand in 1888; they played an important role in the commercial development of the city. In 1897 there were 4,307 Jews (c. 8% of the total population). Their number subsequently increased with Jewish immigration from the emirate of Bukhara and Russia.

The Russian authorities were opposed to this immigration, and, in contrast to the local Jews, the “foreign” Jews (from Bukhara) and the Jews of European Russia were subjected to persecutions. In 1907 the Jewish population numbered 5,266.

With the outbreak of the revolution of 1917, the Zionist movement in Samarkand gained in strength and served as a factor unifying the various communities there. A communal center and Hebrew secondary school were established. Under the Soviet regime a Jewish-Bukharan branch of the communist party was formed in Samarkand; for a number of years it carried on a struggle with the Yevsektsiya (Jewish section of the Soviet Communist Party) over the right of the local Jews to maintain a Hebrew school. The Yevsektsiya took steps to oppose the national and religious traditions of the Jews. By 1933, 15 of the synagogues in the Jewish quarter had been closed down. In 1935 Sovietization of the Jewish museum founded in 1922 expurgated its national-religious character and the evidence of the close ties existing between the Jews of Samarkand and Eretz Israel. The Jews of the Bukharan community numbered 7,740 in 1926, and 9,832 in 1935 (8% of the total population); 8,898 lived in the Jewish quarter, whose name was changed in 1926 to Eastern Quarter, while 95% of the inhabitants were Jews. The Jewish school, whose language of instruction was Tajiki (or Judeo-Tajiki; the language spoken by the Bukharan Jews), was attended by over 1,400 children. During World War II many Jewish refugees from the western part of the Soviet Union arrived in Samarkand.

In the late 1960s the Jewish population was estimated at 15,000 (mainly Bukharan Jews), most of whom resided in the former Jewish quarter. There remained one synagogue in the old part of the city where the Jewish quarter is located; it included a separate section for the Ashkenazi Jews.

Samarkand retained a Jewish cemetery. In 1951 the Rabbi Chakham Ezekiel was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for religious activity, but was released in 1957, having served six years. In March 1964 the community was compelled by the authorities to protest against the sending of matzot from Israel and the baking of matzot was carried on at home.

In 1997, after the Aliya to Israel, there were 7,000 Jews in Samarkand.

Bruno Landsberg
David Alexander Haltrecht
Elkan Nathan Adler
Dykman, Shlomo

Bruno Landsberg (1920-2017), businessman, industrialist, founder and chairman of Sano Ltd. company, born in Chernivtsi (Czernowitz), Ukraine (then in Romania). In 1934 the family moved to Bucharest, but in 1940 they returned to Czernowitz that was annexed by the Soviet Union in June 1940.  Following the German attack against the Soviet Union in June 1941, he fled along with his wife to Saratov in Russia and later he moved to Bukhara in the Soviet Central Asia. He started studying literature, history and economics at the University of Saratov and complete his studies in Romania, after his return to Bucharest in late 1944. After the establishment of the Communist regime in Romania, Landsberg worked for the Municipality of Bucharest and along with his father in a family owned small textile business, until it was nationalized in 1948. He immigrated to Israel in 1952 settling in Kvutzat Schiller – Gan Shlomo, where he worked on the local banana plantation. He later moved to Tel Aviv and worked for some time for Hayl Hamada (Hamad), the precursor of Raphael - Advanced Weapons Systems Ltd.

As of 1955 Landsberg entered the detergents business, first as a sales manager, then as a distributor, until eventually in 1961 he set up in Bat Yam his own plant with only four employees, one machine and three products that in 1965 became Sano Ltd. The company expanded and turned into a major manufacturer of detergents products that in 2017 had about 2,000 employees and produced over 2,000 products sold in Israel and in many other countries, including United Kingdom, Hungary, Romania, and Ukraine.

David Alexander (Dawid Aleksander) Haltrecht (1880-1938), painter, born in Wloclawek, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire), into a rabbinical family. He started working as a weaver in Lodz, but in 1903 he moved to Odessa where he began studying painting. He soon pursued his studies in Munich, Paris and Rome. Before WW1 he traveled extensively to Persia (now Iran), Bukhara and other places in Central Asia. In 1914 he was in Schreiberhau, a town in Silesia, Germany (now Szklarska Poręba in Poland), and then moved to Berlin. He continued his travels during 1925-1930 when he visited China and Mongolia. After 1931 he lived in the Soviet Union where he died in Moscow. Author of genre scenes, landscapes, types and portraits created in impressionist and post-impressionist style, his works are inspired by his trips to the Central and East Asia. A selection of Haltrecht’s paintings are on display at National Museum in Warsaw, Poland.  

Elkan Nathan Adler (1861-1946), traveler and collector of Hebrew, Judeo-Persian, and Judeo-Tajik manuscripts from the Jewish Persian and Bukharan communities, born in London, England, the son of Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler, chief rabbi of the United Kingdom. He published numerous articles on the history of the Jews of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. He travelled extensively with the aim of studying the Jewish communities of Egypt, Eretz Israel, Syria, Yemen, Central Asia, India and Iran which at the time were not well known by European Jewish scholars. During his travels to Teheran in 1896 and to Bukhara in 1897, he acquired a rich collection of Hebrew and Judeo-Persian manuscripts.

The manuscript collection includes both secular and religious works and comprises transliterations of Persian classical poetry, original poems in Hebrew and Judeo-Persian, stories, folklore, charms, treatises on medicine and astrology, medical prescriptions and dictionaries, calendars, accounts of religious persecution, biblical and apocryphal texts, dictionaries of biblical and Talmudic terms, liturgical hymns, prayer books, works on Kabbalah and Jewish commentaries written by European religious authors of the Middle Ages.  

In 1921 Adler sold his manuscript and book collections to the Hebrew Union College of Cincinnati and the Jewish Theological Seminary of New York. In his will he left his personal archives to the Jewish Theological Seminary of New York.    

Dykman, Shlomo (1917-1965), translator and literary critic, born in Warsaw, Poland. He attended school at the "Hinuch" Hebrew Gymnasium, and then studied the classics at the Institute of Jewish Studies at Warsaw University. From 1935 he began publishing translations and literary reviews, including translations from Hebrew into Polish. In 1939, he published a Polish translation of all of H.N.Bialik's poems.

When in 1940 Poland was partitioned between Germany and the Soviet Union, he fled to Bukhara, in Soviet Central Asia, where he taught Hebrew. In 1944, he was arrested by the Soviet authorities and accused of Zionist and Counter-revolutionary activities. He was initially sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to five to ten years hard labour, which he served in the Vorkuta coals mines in the Arctic region of the northern Urals. He was released in 1957 and returned to Warsaw. In 1960 he emigrated to Israel and settled in Jerusalem.

Dykman translated many Greek and Latin classics into Hebrew. Among his translations were the tragedies of "Aeschylus" and "Sophocles", the poem "Aeneid" by Virgil and "Metamorphoses" by Ovid. He was awarded the Israel Prize posthumously in 1965.
Praying in a Bukharan Synagogue, Tashkent, Uzbekistan (USSR) 1976
Praying in a Syangogue in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, USSR, 1976
Exterior view of a Bukharan Synagogue, Andijan, Uzbekistan, USSR, 1976
Jews from Mashhad during a visit in Bukhara, Uzbekistan (USSR) 1930's
Praying in the Bukharan Syangogue in Fergana, Uzbekistan (USSR) 1976
Group of Jewish merchants from Mashhad in Bukhara, Uzbekistan (USSR) c.1935
The Bukharan Synagogue in Samarkand, Uzbekistan (USSR) 1984
Praying in the Bukharan Synagogue
in Tashkent, Uzbekistan )USSR( 1976.
Photo: Valery Fireman, USSR.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Valery Fireman, USSR)
Praying in a synagogue in Bukhara,
Uzbekistan, USSR, 1976
Photo: Valery Fayerman, USSR
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Valery Fayerman, USSR)

Exterior view of a Bukharan Synagogue.
Andijan, Uzbekistan, USSR, 1976
Photo: Valery Fayerman, Russia
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Valery Fayerman, Russia)

Jews from Mashhad, living in Shiraz,
during a visiti in Bukhara, Uzbekistan (USSR) 1930's.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Nino Hakimi, New York)
Praying in the Bukharan Syangogue in Fergana,
Uzbekistan (USSR) 1976.
Photo: Valery Fayerman, USSR.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Valery Fayerman, USSR)
Group of Jewish merchants from Mashhad
in Shiraz, Bukhara (USSR) c.1935.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Nino Hakimi, New York)
Interior view of the Bukharan Synagogue
in Samarkand, Uzbekistan )USSR( 1984.
Photo: Zeev Meshel, Israel.
AKSAKALOV
AKBASHEV
BALKHIYEV
DANIELOV
DEHKANOV
GILKAROV
KARSHIGIEV
KATAYEV
KIMYAGAROV
LEVIEV
MOUSSAIEFF
SACHAKOV
SARIKOV
TOLMASOV
YAGUDAYEV
AKILOV
DEMIROV

AKSAKALOV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is derived from a personal characteristic or nickname. 

This family name was derived from oq soqola, an Uzbek term meaning “white beard” and used as a nickname for elderly people. The Russian ending "-ov" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". Originally, this family name could have been a nickname.  

Nicknames have been used to identify people since ancient times by Jews and non-Jew alike. In the Jewish tradition, the boundary between personal names and nicknames has always been fluid, resulting in a wide variety of family names. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Aksakalov is documented as a Jewish family name with Maya Aksakalov, a Content Development Manager at Tel Aviv University.

AKBASHEV, AKBASHOF

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is derived from a personal characteristic or nickname. 

This family name was derived from oq bosh, an Uzbek term meaning “white head” and used as a nickname for elderly people. The Russian ending "-ev" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". Originally, this family name could have been a nickname.  

Nicknames have been used to identify people since ancient times by Jews and non-Jew alike. In the Jewish tradition, the boundary between personal names and nicknames has always been fluid, resulting in a wide variety of family names. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Akbashev is documented as a Jewish family name with Emma Akbashev, a physician in Jerusalem, Israel.  

BALKHIYEV, BALKHIEV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birthplace, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

This name is derived from the name of the town Balkh in the Balkh Province of Afghanistan near the city of Mazar-e Sharif. The Russian ending "-ev" means "of/from". Places, regions and countries of origin or residence are some of the sources of Jewish family names. But, unless the family has reliable records, names based on toponymics cannot prove the exact origin of the family. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Balkhiev is documented as a Jewish family name with Tamara Balkhiev (1915 – 2010), a former resident of Petah Tikva, Israel

DANIELOV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a patronymic surname derived from a male ancestor's personal name, in this case of biblical origin.

Danielov, in which the Slavic ending "-ov" stands for "son of", is a form of Daniel. Daniel, meaning "God has judged" in Hebrew, was the name of the son of David and Abigail (1 Chronicles 3.1) and of the biblical prophet of the book of Daniel. This biblical name became a family name and assumed several variants. Daniel took suffixes from various languages to form patronymics indicating descent in the male line (the German "-sohn", the Italian "-i", the Slavic "-vitz/vitch", the Latin "-ius"). Danielillo ("little Daniel" in Italian) is recorded in the 17th century, Danill in the early 18th century, Daniels in the 18th century, Danigel, Dannihl, Danielis and Tannigel in the late 18th century. Family name Danielov is found among the Jews of Bukhara and Bulgaria.     

Danielov is documented as a Jewish family name with Amnon Danielov (1925- 2005), a former resident of Petah Tikva.

DEHKANOV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name.

This family name derives from an occupation, profession or trade (also connected with raw material, finished product or implements associated with that trade). Names indicating occupation, profession or trade are widespread among Jews. The extensive range of Jewish names deriving from occupations illustrates the variety of their activities in all fields.

This family name is derived from dehqon, an Uzbek term meaning “peasant”.  The Russian ending "-ov" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". Originally, this family name could have been a nickname. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Dehkanov is documented as a Jewish family name with Mazal Marusia Dehkanov (1927- 1994), a former resident of Israel.

GILKAROV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name.

This family name derives from an occupation, profession or trade (also connected with raw material, finished product or implements associated with that trade). Names indicating occupation, profession or trade are widespread among Jews. The extensive range of Jewish names deriving from occupations illustrates the variety of their activities in all fields.

This family name is derived from gilkor, an Uzbek term meaning “plasterer”.  The Russian ending "-ov" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". Originally, this family name could have been a nickname. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Gilkarov is documented as a Jewish family name with Ela Gilkarov (1948-2003), a former resident of Sderot, Israel.

KARSHIGIEV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birthplace, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

This name is derived from the name of the city Qarshi in southern Uzbekistan. The Russian ending "-ev" means "of/from". Places, regions and countries of origin or residence are some of the sources of Jewish family names. But, unless the family has reliable records, names based on toponymics cannot prove the exact origin of the family. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Karshigiev is documented as a Jewish family name with Yitzhak Karshigiev (1934-2015), a former resident of Ramla, Israel.

KATAYEV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is derived from a personal characteristic or nickname. 

This family name was derived from katta, an Uzbek term meaning “big”, “large”, “high”.  The Russian ending "-ev" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". Originally, this family name could have been a nickname.  

Nicknames have been used to identify people since ancient times by Jews and non-Jew alike. In the Jewish tradition, the boundary between personal names and nicknames has always been fluid, resulting in a wide variety of family names. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Katayev is documented as a Jewish family name with Esther Katayev (1953-2009), a former resident of Ramla, Israel.

KIMYAGAROV, KIMYAGAROF

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name.

This family name derives from an occupation, profession or trade (also connected with raw material, finished product or implements associated with that trade). Names indicating occupation, profession or trade are widespread among Jews. The extensive range of Jewish names deriving from occupations illustrates the variety of their activities in all fields.

This family name is derived from kimyogar, an Uzbek term meaning “chemist”.  The Russian ending "-ov" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". Originally, this family name could have been a nickname given to someone who produced or marketed dyes for textiles. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Kimyagarov is documented as a Jewish family name with Mashiah Kimyagarov (d. 1984), a former resident of Jerusalem, Israel.   

LEVIEV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name usually derives from lineage (priestly, Levite, convert). Leviev is derived from the Hebrew biblical personal name Levi/Levy. The Russian ending "-ov" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". This surname is therefore a patronymic, derived from a male ancestor's personal name. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

The Levites are descendants of Levi, the third son of Jacob and Leah. 

Distinguished bearers of the family name Leviev include the Uzbekistan-born Israeli businessman, philanthropist and investor Lev Avnerovich Leviev (b. 1956), known as the "King of Diamonds".

MUSAYEV, MOUSSAIEFF

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a patronymic surname based on a male ancestor's personal name, in this case of biblical origin.

This family name is derived from Musa, the Arabic equivalent of the biblical male personal name Moshe. The biblical name-etymology is "I drew him out of the water" (Exodus 2.10). The Russian ending "-ev" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". This surname is therefore a patronymic, derived from a male ancestor's personal name. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Distinguished bearers of the family name Moussaieff include the Israeli businessman Shlomo Moussaieff (1925-2015), founder of Moussaieff Jewellers Ltd.

SACHAKOV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birthplace, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

This name is derived from the name of the town Sochak in the eastern outskirts of Samarkand in Uzbekistan. The Russian ending "-ov" means "of/from". Places, regions and countries of origin or residence are some of the sources of Jewish family names. But, unless the family has reliable records, names based on toponymics cannot prove the exact origin of the family. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Sachakov is documented as a Jewish family name with Nisonhay Sachakov (1912-1981), a former resident of Tashent, Uzbekistan.

SARIKOV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is derived from a personal characteristic or nickname. 

This family name was derived from sariq, an Uzbek term meaning “yellow” and used as a nickname for fair-haired people. The Russian ending "-ov" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". Originally, this family name could have been a nickname.  

Nicknames have been used to identify people since ancient times by Jews and non-Jew alike. In the Jewish tradition, the boundary between personal names and nicknames has always been fluid, resulting in a wide variety of family names. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Sarikov is documented as a Jewish family name with Amnon Sarikov (1932-2007), a former resident of Jerusalem, Israel.

TOLMASOV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is derived from a personal characteristic or nickname. 

This family name was derived from tolmas, an Uzbek term meaning “tireless”, “unwearying” and used as a nickname for a strong person. The Russian ending "-ov" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". Originally, this family name could have been a nickname.  

Nicknames have been used to identify people since ancient times by Jews and non-Jew alike. In the Jewish tradition, the boundary between personal names and nicknames has always been fluid, resulting in a wide variety of family names. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Distinguished bearers of the family name Tolmasov include the Samarkand-born American singer Avrohom (Avrom, Abram, Abram) Gavrielovich Tolmasov (b. 1956), one of the founders of the musical culture of Bukharan Jews of modern times or the so-called post-Soviet period.

YAGUDAYEV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a patronymic surname based on a male ancestor's personal name, in this case of biblical origin.

Yagudayev is derived from the Russian pronunciation of the given name Yahuda, an equivalent of Yehuda. The Russian ending "-ev" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". This surname is therefore a patronymic, derived from a male ancestor's personal name. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Literally "homage to God" in Hebrew, the biblical Yehuda/Juda(h), was the fourth son of Jacob and Leah, (surnamed Ari(eh), that is the "lion" (Genesis 49.38).

Yagudayev is documented as a Jewish family name with the 21st century Uzbekistan-born American pediatrician Yakov Yagudayev

AKILOV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is derived from a personal characteristic or nickname. 

This family name was derived from oqil, an Uzbek term meaning “wise”, “shrewd” and used as a nickname for an intelligent person. The Russian ending "-ov" means "of/from", but can also stand for "son of". Originally, this family name could have been a nickname.  

Nicknames have been used to identify people since ancient times by Jews and non-Jew alike. In the Jewish tradition, the boundary between personal names and nicknames has always been fluid, resulting in a wide variety of family names. This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara. 

Distinguished bearers of the family name Akilov include the Israeli dancer Galia Akilov, a member of the Akilov 200-year dynasty of Jewish musicians from Bukhara.

DEMIROV, TEMIROV

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name.

This family name derives from an occupation, profession or trade (also connected with raw material, finished product or implements associated with that trade). Names indicating occupation, profession or trade are widespread among Jews. The extensive range of Jewish names deriving from occupations illustrates the variety of their activities in all fields.

This family name, in which the Slavic ending "-ov" means "of/from" and stands for "son of", is derived from demir, the Turkish term for "iron". The Uzbek equivalent is temir. Originally, the term could have been used as a nickname for an "iron dealer"or a "smith" This family name is found among the Jews of Bukhara, Uzbekistan, in Central Asia.  

Demirov  is documented as a Jewish family name with the Israeli soccer player Tomer Demirov (b. 1995).