Circassians in Israel

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The Circassians in Israel (Hebrew: הצ'רקסים בישראל‎, Adyghe: Адыгэхэу Исраэл исыхэр) refers to the Circassian community who live in Israel.

Circassians in Israel are Sunni Muslims, but tend to emphasise separation between their religion and their nationality.[citation needed] About 4,000 Circassians live in Israel, mainly in the villages of Kfar Kama and Rehaniya. They are one of only three minority groups in Israel to be drafted into the IDF just as Jewish Israelis are.

Background and history[edit]

The Circassians arrived in the Middle East after they were expelled from their homeland in the northern Caucasus. The Circassians, who fought during the long period (see the Russian-Circassian War) wherein the Russians captured the northern Caucasus, were massacred and expelled by Czarist Russia from the Caucasus. The Ottoman Empire, which saw the Circassians as experienced fighters, absorbed them in their territory and settled them in sparsely populated areas, including the Galilee.[1]

The Circassians exiles established the village Rehaniya in 1873, and the village of Kfar Kama in 1876.[2]

Modern history[edit]

Nowadays, the Circassian community in Israel is well integrated into Israeli society, speak Adyghe (in addition to learning Hebrew, Arabic and English in elementary school), while cultivating their unique heritage and culture.[3]

The Israeli Circassians have had good relations with the Jewish community in Israel since the beginning of the pre-state Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel, in part due to the language shared with many of the First Aliyah immigrants from Russia who settled in the Galilee. The Circassian community in Israel helped the illegal migration of Jews from Lebanon into Mandate Palestine and fought on the Israeli side of the War of Independence.

At their leaders' request, since 1958 all male Circassians must complete the Israeli mandatory military service upon reaching the age of majority, while females do not.[4] In this, they are equal to the Israeli Jews and the Israeli Druze population groups living in the State of Israel proper (this excludes the Druze population living on the Golan Heights.) Many Circassians in Israel are employed in the Israeli security forces, including in the Israeli Border Police, the Israeli Defence Forces, the Israeli Police and the Israeli Prison Service. The percentage of the army recruits among the Circassian community in Israel is particularly high.

Notable Israeli Circassians[edit]

Circassians in Israel
Circassians in Israel.Jpg
Circassian men in traditional clothes in Kfar Kama
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Kfar Kama
Hebrew, Arabic, Circassian language (Kfar Kama dialect)
Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups
Circassians, Adyghe people



  1. ^ The Circassians in Israel
  2. ^ Circassians (in Rihania and Kfar-Kama)
  3. ^ Circassians in Israel
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Ethnic People Groups of Israel". Joshua Project. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 

See also[edit]