Meeting in thousands of years.
Since the tragic dispersal of Jews around the world after the destruction of the Temple, a relatively small branch of Jewry, which later became known as Bukhara, was cut off from the main stream and settled in the vast expanses of Central Asia. The almost complete isolation of Bukharian Jews from the great Jewish centers of Europe did not adversely affect the preservation of the faith of the fathers, despite complex, sometimes dramatic events. Isolation led to the creation of their own culture, a national identity based on the laws and teachings that they brought with them from Eretz Yisrael. How powerful should be the spiritual strength of the people, who, in such difficult conditions for millennia, managed to preserve the historical memory, preserve the ancient holy principles and hope of returning to their historical homeland and reuniting with their people!
When in the 70s of the last century I undertook a tourist trip through the ancient cities of Uzbekistan & # 8212; Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, then, like most of the inhabitants of the European region, believed that the Bukharian Jews & # 8212; This is a Jewish community, living only in Bukhara. With this meager historical baggage, I found it difficult to find a synagogue in the old district of Bukhara in the hope that I could look into the mysterious history of unknown brothers.
Even after getting to know the poor old districts of Samarkand, the street on which the synagogue was located was amazing. On either side of the curve and a narrow street along which two arbas could barely pass, a tall, solid clay fence with built-in doors led to the courtyards. In the far corners of the yards there were residential houses built of clay blocks with straw fittings. In such a simple building there was a synagogue. A small room and poor decoration, more precisely the lack of decoration, depressed. In the synagogue I was met by a rather old servant, who gave me a tyubeteyka that had seen a kind. He was alone. I introduced myself in Yiddish and in Russian. He did not know Yiddish and could hardly understand Russian. Nevertheless, I managed to learn from him that there are many Jews in Bukhara, how many, he did not know that there is another synagogue in the city, large and beautiful, which young people visit for the holidays, that in its synagogue there is an ancient a scroll of the Torah, and the minyan is made up of old people.
A large influx of Jews into the areas through which the Great Silk Road ran from China to Europe occurred in the 2nd century BC. e. Jewish merchants played a large role in the trade in silk and in the economic development of the region for seventeen centuries. Trade connected the Muslim East with the Christian West. This historical mission is forgotten, as they try to forget, on what basis the Christian and Muslim religions arose. In those ancient times a peculiar culture of Bukharian Jews began to form. Science and literature developed in the language of Farsi, which was finally formed in the 8th century AD. e.
The concept of “Bukharian Jews” arose in the time of Timur. At that time the center of Jewish life in Central Asia was the city of Samarkand. After the conquest of Bukhara, Timur brought the representatives of the Jewish population closer to himself, granted various privileges to the community, and the entire Jewish community of Central Asia was named Bukhara.
The two thousand-year-old isolation of Bukharian Jews from the Jews of Europe impoverished both branches of world Jewry, each of which was deprived of the great historical, spiritual and cultural experience of brothers by faith and historical roots. The meeting after thousands of years showed that on this incredibly long road we did not lose the unifying beginning. In history there is no other people who would withstand such a test.
In the XVII century, the community grew significantly due to the immigration of Jews from Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Palestine and even Yemen. By the time of the conquest of Central Asia by Russia, Bukharian Jews lived in almost all cities of large colonies. They were given greater rights than Jews in other regions of Russia. This contributed to the development of the economy of the region. They built factories, they owned banks, land, wholesale trade expanded. Synagogues and Jewish schools functioned in the cities.
At the end of the 20th century, the Bukhara community practically left Central Asia for the first time in many millennia. This is a unique historical phenomenon. More than 200,000 Bukharian Jews currently live in different countries. Of these, about 100,000? in Israel and approximately 50,000? in the USA, and in the countries of Central Asia only about 10,000.
Bukhara community of America.
Immigration has put an end to millennial isolation, but the compact living of Bukharian Jews has survived. The new historical stage of the Bukhara community, which arrived in the United States, began with the Forest Hills Queens area. How does the life of the community develop in the new conditions? The American melting pot first of all involved the younger generation. Despite historical traditions and a short period of stay in America, young people are greatly attracted to American education, culture and way of life. It began in the Soviet period, the process of “cultural assimilation,” without which a career was unthinkable, and in the minds of the youth the Soviet system seemed durable. This process was greatly influenced by contacts with Ashkenazi Jews during mass evacuation during the Second World War.
The community faithfully observes Jewish traditions, established its own synagogue and cultural center, one of the most beautiful in Queens. About the high spiritual authority of Bukharian Jews among the peoples, next to whom they lived in the countries of Central Asia, is the unique phenomenon of sponsoring a public figure from Kazakhstan Kulyash Altynbaeva of a new Torah scroll for the Bukhara community of Queens. Pleasant phenomenon & # 8212; the lowest level of assimilation along with the orthodox communities of the United States.
His annual participation in the international exhibition of EXPO has become a notable phenomenon in the artistic life of Manhattan. His epic paintings on the themes of our ancient history deserved the high appreciation of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who blessed the artist and told him: “The more you work, the more Gd will help you.” The publication of its newspaper, historical and artistic literature makes a great contribution to the preservation and development of a unique culture.
Meeting in thousands of years.