History of the Jews in Kazakhstan

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Kazakh Jews have a long history. There are approximately several thousand Jews in Kazakhstan right now.

Most Kazakh Jews are Ashkenazi and speak Russian.[1][2]

Jewish history in Kazakhstan[edit]

Chabad-Lubavitch synagogue in Almaty, depicted on a postal stamp from Kazakhstan.

General Secretary Joseph Stalin forcibly moved thousands of Jews from other parts of the Soviet Union to the Kazakh SSR. During the Holocaust 8,000 Jews fled to Kazakhstan.[2]

A Chabad-Lubavitch synagogue in Almaty is named after Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, father of the Rebbe, who is buried at the city’s cemetery, close to the synagogue. Levi Yitzchak Schneerson was exiled to Kazakhstan from Ukraine, Dnepropetrovsk, where he was a chief rabbi.[3] Lubavitcher Jews from all over the world come to pray at his grave.[4]

Yeshaya E. Cohen, the Chief Rabbi of Kazakhstan, told Kazinform on January 16, 2004 that a new synagogue would be built in Astana. He thanked President Nazarbayev for "paying so much attention to distinguishing between those who truly believe and those who want to hijack their religion."[5] President of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, presented Nazarbayev with a menorah on 7 September 2004.[6]

Historical Demographics[edit]

Kazakhstan's Jewish population rapidly increased between 1926 and 1959, being almost eight times larger in 1959 than in 1926. Kazakhstan's Jewish population slowly declined between 1959 and 1989, followed by a much larger decline after the fall of Communism between 1989 and 2002 due to massive Jewish emigration, mostly to Israel.[7]

Historical Kazakh Jewish population
Year Pop. ±%
1926 3,548 —    
1939 19,240 +442.3%
1959 28,085 +46.0%
1970 27,676 −1.5%
1979 23,601 −14.7%
1989 20,104 −14.8%
2002 4,500 −77.6%
2010 3,700 −17.8%
Source:

Jewish life today[edit]

About 2,000 Jewish Kazakhs are Bukharian and Juhuro Mountain Jews. There are synagogues and large Jewish communities in Almaty where there are 10,000 Jews and in Astana and Pavlodar. There are smaller communities in Karaganda, Chimkent, Semey, Kokchetav, Dzhambul, Uralsk, Aktyubinsk, and Petropavlovsk.

There are twenty Jewish Kazakh organizations, including the Mitzvah Association, Chabad-Lubavitch, the Joint Distribution Committee, Jewish Agency for Israel, and the All-Kazakhstan Jewish Congress (AKJC). The Jewish communities formed the AKJC in December 1999 in a ceremony attended by Kazakh government officials and United States Ambassador to Kazakhstan Richard Jones.

There are fourteen Jewish day schools attended by more than 700 students. There is a Jewish kindergarten in Almaty.[12] Between 2005 and 2006 attendance in religious services and education in Almaty among Jews greatly increased. The Kazakh government registered eight foreign rabbis and "Jewish missionaries" (see Jewish outreach.) It has also donated buildings and land for the building of new synagogues.[1][2]

According to the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, "Anti-Semitism is not prevalent in Kazakhstan and rare incidents are reported in the press," contrary to incorrect perceptions in popular culture caused by the country's portrayal in the 2006 film Borat as a "hot-bed of anti-Semitism."[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b International Religious Freedom Report 2006 U.S. Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan
  2. ^ a b c The virtual Jewish history tour, Kazakhstan Jewish Virtual Library
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "ShalomR53.pmd" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-04-14. 
  5. ^ Chief Rabbi Says Kazakhstan "Symbol" for Others Press Box
  6. ^ Chief Rabbi Says No Anti-Semitism in Kazakhstan, Explains Why Embassy of Kazakhstan to the USA and Canada http://www.ncsj.org/AuxPages/081001Kazakhstan.shtml Kazakhstan’s Jews Celebrate] National Conference on Soviet Jewry
  7. ^ "tab30.XLS" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-04-14. 
  8. ^ "Приложение Демоскопа Weekly". Demoscope.ru. 2013-01-15. Retrieved 2013-04-14. 
  9. ^ http://www.ajcarchives.org/AJC_DATA/Files/2002_13_WJP.pdf
  10. ^ "Powered by Google Docs". Docs.google.com. Retrieved 2013-04-14. 
  11. ^ YIVO | Population and Migration: Population since World War I. Yivoencyclopedia.org. Retrieved on 2013-04-14.
  12. ^ "Ohr Avner Chabad - Almaty, Kazakhstan". Chabad.org. Retrieved 2013-04-14. 
  13. ^ [2][dead link]

External links[edit]