Nadezhda Dukhovny
Nadezhda Dukhovny

Ancient and unique Uzbekistan: Jewish Community of Bukhara

The synagogue of Bukhara. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Bukhara Region.
This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Bukhara Region.

A Jewish community has long lived in the Republic of Uzbekistan, consisting of two ethnic branches: Ashkenazi (European Jews) and Sephardic (Bukharian) Jews.

Traditional Jewish wedding. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Bukhara Region.

The first Jewish cultural centers were created in 1989, among them are the Jewish Cultural Center in Tashkent (now the Jewish Community Cultural Center) and the Republican Bukhara Jewish Cultural Center under the Uzbekistan branch of the Cultural Fund (now the Bukharian Jewish Cultural Center “Simkho” in Tashkent).

the Bukharian Jewish Cultural Center “Simkho” in Tashkent. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Bukhara Region.

Today, there are seven Jewish national cultural centers in Uzbekistan: two in Tashkent, one each in Bukhara, Navoi, Fergana, and Samarkand. The Jewish National Cultural Center of Uzbekistan has been operating in the capital since 1997.

Inside a Jewish cultural center. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Bukhara Region.

At the Jewish National Cultural Center of Uzbekistan, a folklore and dance ensemble “Shalom, Tashkent” was opened, as well as clubs “You are not alone”, “Parents of children with disabilities”, “Looking for you” to help in finding relatives lost abroad, “Rakhamim” (“Mercy”) to support all those in need.

A Jewish cultural center. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Bukhara Region.

In Navoi, there is a club of elders and a children’s studio “Shemesh” – “Solnyshko”, a volunteer group.

Among the main attractions of Bukhara are a specialized school for the study of Hebrew, a synagogue, the cultural center of Bukharian Jews “Shalom” and the charitable center “Amaayan”. These are the strongholds of the existence of the local close-knit community of Bukharian Jews, one of the oldest in the world since the time of the Great Silk Road.

Jewish school in Bukhara. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Bukhara Region.

There is a club “Today in the country and the world” in Tashkent, and the cycle of lecture and concert programs “Crossroads” is dedicated to the work of writers, artists, musicians, whose fates crossed at different times on the Tashkent land.

In Fergana, there are courses of teaching traditions and rituals, cooking national dishes, handicrafts, folk dances, and vocals, in which representatives of different nationalities participate.

In Samarkand, an example of this is the “Warm House” cultural and educational program.

Nozanin Jewish ensemble in Bukhara. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Bukhara Region.

All centers celebrate the heroes of the day, hold exhibitions of folk art, meetings with poets, writers, artists, and performances by children and youth groups.

In this way, continuity is maintained from generation to generation, and love and respect for the experience of the past are transmitted.

The synagogue of Bukhara. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Bukhara Region.
The synagogue of Bukhara. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Bukhara Region.

On the days of national holidays Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Hanukkah, Tu Bishvat, Purim, Shavuot, Passover, carefully preserved folk costumes and paraphernalia are used and traditional Jewish dishes are promoted.

The synagogue of Bukhara. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Bukhara Region.

A synagogue and a cemetery have survived to this day in Bukhara.

Jewish cemetery in Bukhara. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Bukhara Region.
About the Author
Nadezhda Dukhovny was born and raised in Uzbekistan and made aliya in 2005. She holds an MA in Linguistics from Tel Aviv University and works in translation. She has a true interest about her motherland and would like to tell more about that fascinating country to make Israeli readers familiar with another culture from other part of the globe.
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