Family Origin: Uzbekistan, Kiryat Malachi, Israel 2007.

Family Origin: Uzbekistan, Kiryat Malachi, Israel 2007.

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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.

 

Bukharan Jews, also Bukharian Jews or Bukhari Jews, are Jews from Central Asia who speak Bukhori, a dialect of the Tajik-Persian language. Their name comes from the former Central Asian Emirate of Bukhara, which once had a sizable Jewish community. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the great majority have emigrated to Israel or to the United States (especially Forest Hills, New York), while others have emigrated to Europe or Australia. According to some ancient texts, there were Israelites that began traveling to Central Asia to work as traders during the reign of King David of Jerusalem as far back as the 10th century B.C.E. When Persian King Cyrus conquered Babylon, he encouraged the Jews he liberated to settle in his empire, which included areas of Central Asia. In the Middle Ages, the largest Jewish settlement in Central Asia was in the Emirate of Bukhara.

Modern sources have described the Bukhara Jews as, for example, “an ethnic and linguistic group in Central Asia claiming descent from 5th-century exiles from Persia”.

The 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. Throughout the years, Jews from other Eastern countries such as Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Syria, and Morocco migrated into Central Asia (usually by taking the Silk Road

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