Family Origin: Baku (Azerbaijan), Acco, Israel 2007
Family Origin: Baku (Azerbaijan), Acco, Israel 2007Click to Enlarge
Often framed as a monolithic society, Israel is in fact made up of the many stories of the immigrating families who have built their lives there, united under the values of a shared heritage and history. The Israeli family has a distinct blend of customs from their original home country and the homeland.
Immigration to Israel is known as aliyah (ascent) and a newcomer as an oleh, one who has risen up, as if having attained new heights arriving in the Biblical, historic, and religious homeland of the Jewish people. The elders in these photographs had reasons for aliyah as diverse as their backgrounds.
The reality for new arrivals to Israel was often more harsh than the promised dream of “a land flowing with milk and honey”. These challenges are a reminder of the complexity of building one nation that includes Jewish people from every corner of the earth.
Historically Jews in Azerbaijan have been represented by various subgroups, mainly Mountain Jews, Ashkenazi Jews and Georgian Jews. Azerbaijan at one point was or still is home to smaller communities of Krymchaks, Kurdish Jews and Bukharian Jews, as well Gers (converts) and non-Jewish Judaistic groups like Subbotniks. In 2002, the total number of Jewish residents in Azerbaijan was 8,900 people with about 5,500 of them being Mountain Jews. A few more thousand descend from mixed families. In 2010, the total Jewish population in Azerbaijan was 6,400. Jews mainly reside in the cities of Baku, Sumqayit, Quba, Oğuz, Goychay and the town of Qirmizi Qesebe, the only town in the world where Mountain Jews constitute the majority.
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