Jews in Central Asia

Jews have occupied Central Asian countries including Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan dating back centuries. The majority in Kyrgyzstan speak Bukhori, a dialect of Tajik (Persian). Calling themselves Bukharan Jews, “Bukharian Jews” or “Bukhari Jews” after the former Central Asian Emirate of Bukhara that once had a sizable Jewish community. After the feigned collapse of Communism the majority were dispersed to the United States and occupied Palestine, others to Europe or Australia. Most Jews in Kazakhstan are Ashkenazi and speak Russian. This Jewish population rapidly increased after 1926 being almost eight times larger in 1959. Jews occupying Mongolia date back to the 19th century. Jewish merchants in Siberia established trade routes between with the Mongolians resulting in some Jews slithering into Mongolia. Some were even elevated to Mongolian nobility as was the case of Zanzer who changed his name in honour of Zanabazar, the first Bogd Khan indicating that they have possibly contaminated the bloodline. Jews first arrived in the eastern part of the Emirate of Bukhara, in what is today Tajikistan, in the 2nd century BC. Following Communist seizure the country was forcibly divided up. Tajikistan was first formed as an autonomous ‘soviet’ within Uzbekistan in 1924, and in 1929 became a full-fledged ‘soviet’. Most Jews in Uzbekistan are Ashkenazi and the population (then known as the Uzbek SSR) nearly tripled between 1926 and 1970 reflecting Jewish populations in Kazakhstan. According to the World Almanac the global Jewish population increased   between 1933 and 1948 from 15,315,000 to 15,753,000. If the German government under Adolf Hitler had – as alleged – killed six million Jews those losses should have been reflected in the Jewish population numbers quoted in the World Almanac. Beginning in the 1970s, Jews began dispersing to occupied Palestine and the United States. By the late 1980s, many of Tajikistan’s Jews had left.

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