Bukharan Jews - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. Bukharan Jews follow the traditional Judaic faith and form communities that have synagogues ( keniso). They observe the lunar calendar and all Jewish holidays, the most important of which are Passover (Pesach), Shavuot, Sukkoth, New Year (Rosh Hashannah), and the Day of Judgment (Yom Kippur). Before 1793 Bukharan Jews observed the so-called Persian traditions in Judaism ( nusah Paras), but after the settlement of Joseph Mamon in Bukhara they adopted the Sephardic tradition ( nusah Sefarad ) and at present consider themselves Sephardic Jews.

Religious Practitioners. Bukharan Jewish communities are led by la khams, who perform the functions of rabbis, butchers, circumcisers, and cantors. At present there are approximtely twenty Bukharan Jewish synagogues in the former USSR. Formerly, religious schools ( homulo ) were attached to the synagogues. Special instructors, called melas, taught primarily boys there.

Ceremonies. On the eighth day after a boy's birth, a circumcision ( milo ) is performed. At 13 years of age a boy undergoes a ceremony dedicated to his coming of age ( tefillinbandon ).

Arts. Only three literary monuments have come down to us: the poems of the Book of Antioch and Seven Brothers by the poet Joseph ben Isaac, composed in the first half of the eighteenth century, and the poem "Memories of Hudaydad" written by Ibrahim ibn Abi-1-Hayr in 1809, about a young Jew who prefers death to conversion to Islam.

In 1930 the literary journal Haeti mikhnat first appeared. A whole series of works by writers and poets emerged in the Bukharo-Jewish dialect, although many were arrested between 1936 and 1938. Newspapers and magazines were closed by Soviet authorities, as was a theater opened in 1932 in Samarkand. In 1940 the Bukharo-Jewish schools were shut down, and publication of books in the Jewish dialect of the Tajik language ceased.

Death and Afterlife. After death, a burial and mourning ritual is performed for the deceased. The sons of the deceased read the mourner's prayer (kaddish) every day for the first year after death, and once a year thereafter.

Also read article about Bukharan Jews from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: