17 Facts About Bukharan Jews


Bukharan Jews comprise Persian-speaking Jewry along with the Jews of Iran, Afghanistan, and the Caucasus Mountains.

FactSnippet No. 832,036

Bukharan Jews originally called themselves Bnei Israel, which relates specifically to the Israelites of Assyrian captivity.

FactSnippet No. 832,037

The term Bukharan Jews was coined by European travellers who visited Central Asia around the 16th century.

FactSnippet No. 832,038

Bukharan Jews used Bukharian or Bukhori, a Jewish dialect of the Tajik language with linguistic elements of Hebrew, to communicate among themselves.

FactSnippet No. 832,039

At that time, and until approximately the sixteenth century, Bukharan Jews formed a group continuous with Jews of Iran and Afghanistan.

FactSnippet No. 832,040

Bukharan Jews are considered one of the oldest ethno-religious groups of Central Asia and over the years they have developed their own distinct culture.

FactSnippet No. 832,041

Many of the native Bukharan Jews were opposed to this and the community split into two factions.

FactSnippet No. 832,042

In 1843 the Bukharan Jews were visited by the so-called "Eccentric Missionary", Joseph Wolff, a Jewish convert to Christianity who had set himself the broad task of finding the Lost Tribes of Israel and the narrow one of seeking two British officers who had been captured by the Emir, Nasrullah Khan.

FactSnippet No. 832,043

Dozens of Bukharan Jews held prestigious jobs in medicine, law, and government, and many Jews prospered.

FactSnippet No. 832,044

Many Bukharan Jews became successful and well-respected actors, artists, dancers, musicians, singers, film producers, and sportsmen.

FactSnippet No. 832,045

Still, Bukharan Jews were forbidden to ride in the streets and had to wear distinctive costumes.

FactSnippet No. 832,046

Consequently, Central Asian Bukharan Jews in Paris had an Afghan nationality while a minority of them were born in Afghanistan.

FactSnippet No. 832,047

Bukharan Jews who had put efforts into creating a Bukharan Jewish Soviet culture and national identity were charged during Stalin's Great Purge, or, as part of the Soviet Union's nationalities policies and nation building campaigns, were forced to assimilate into the larger Soviet Uzbek or Soviet Tajik national identities.

FactSnippet No. 832,048

Currently, Bukharan Jews are mostly concentrated in the U S in New York City.

FactSnippet No. 832,049

In 2007, Bukharan-American Jews initiated lobbying efforts on behalf of their community.

FactSnippet No. 832,050

Bukharan Jews had their own dress code, similar to but different from other cultures living in Central Asia.

FactSnippet No. 832,051

Bukharan Jews have a distinct musical tradition called shashmaqam, which is an ensemble of stringed instruments, infused with Central Asian rhythms, and a considerable klezmer influence as well as Muslim melodies, and even Spanish chords.

FactSnippet No. 832,052