|Time zone||UTC+4 (AZT)|
Qırmızı Qəsəbə ([gɯɾmɯzɯ gæsæbæ], Russian: Красная Слобода, Krasnaya Sloboda, English: Red Town) is a village and municipality in Quba District of Azerbaijan. It has a population of 3,598 and is believed to be the world's only all-Jewish town outside Israel and the United States.
The village is located across the Qudiyalçay River (or Kudyal River) from the larger town of Quba. It is the primary settlement of Azerbaijan's population of highland, or mountain Jews who make up the population of approximately 4,000. The most widely spoken language in Qırmızı Qəsəbə is Juhuri. Qırmızı Qəsəbə is considered to be the world's last surviving shtetl.
The settlement is sometimes referred to as the Red Town or the Red Village, possibly because of the red tiling used on many of the roofs. Other sources attribute the name to the protected status the town received during the Soviet period, when it was shielded from persecution during World War II.
Initially spread throughout the mountainous region, the Jewish population of the highlands became centered around Qaba. The settlement is sometimes referred to as the Red Town or the Red Village, possibly because of the red tiling used on many of the roofs.
Quba is one of the popular regions of Azerbaijan. In the past, the guests visiting Azerbaijan were invited to visit Quba because of its proximity to the capital city. Lezgins, Tats, Khinalug people, Budukh people and Kryts people were living in peace and friendship with Turks in Quba for centuries. Qırmızı, being located in Quba where the mountain Jews reside, is also important in promoting Quba.
Officially, Jews were registered with 213,138 people in 34 settlements of the Caucasus in 1881. Over the past hundred years, along with highland Jews, other ethnolinguistic groups or the regions - Ashkenazi, Krymchaks, Kurdish Jews, and Georgian Jews also lived in Azerbaijan. However, since the 19th century, the majority of Jewish population of republic is consisting of mountainous Jews.
The first Jewish settlement in the area was named "Kulgat" on the left bank of the Gudjalchay, just a few kilometers from present day Qırmızı. The old grave stones in the Kulgat area and other evidences that partially had been destroyed during the attacks of the Nadir Shah proves that the Jews had lived here.
While the highland Jews had been in the area around Quba since at least the 13th century, the formal creation of Krasnaya Sloboda is traced back to the 18th century. In 1742 the Khan of Quba, Fatali Khan, gave the Jews permission to set up a community free of persecution across the river from the city of Quba. Originally referred to as Yevreiskaya Sloboda (Jewish Settlement), the name was changed to Krasnaya Sloboda (Red Settlement) under Soviet rule.
The Jews who moved here from different places lived in 9 settlements. The Jews from Gilan moved to the settlement in the 1780. The Gilaki settlement of the Gilani Jews located in the center of the Red settlement. People coming from Baku and Quba lived in the settlement of Mizrahi ("East"). Migration from different locations influenced the diversity of employment. For example, Jews moving from mountainous regions were engaged in various agricultural fields, and people who immigrated from Iran were engaged in trade.
The massive settlement in the Red town began in 1731. After the death of Huseynali Khan in 1758, his son Fatali Khan was leader of Quba khanate. Khan highly appreciating the loyalty, wisdom, and industriousness of the mountain Jews, gave them a great opportunity for engaging in agriculture, gardening, trade, and crafts. Favorable living conditions created for Jews in Quba caused the relocation of Jews from other villages, such as Qusar, Ucgun, Shudukh, Griz, and even from Baku, Iran, Turkey and other places to Quba.
Finally, mountain Jews who escaped attacks and persecutions joined the shelter of heading Husseinanli Khan in Quba. The Quba Khanate, which were developing during the years of Hussein Khan (1722-1758) and his son Fatali Khan (1758-1789), consist of the northern lands of Azerbaijan and southern Dagestan, from Derbent to Lankaran. Since 1722, mountain Jews have settled in the territory of Gudyalchay.
Among Russian Jews, the town once was known as "little Jerusalem". Located at the intersection of East and West, more than 40 minorities and ethnic groups live in Azerbaijan, including Talyshs, Avars, Lezgins, Russians, Ukrainians, Georgians, Poles and others.
The town has had an influx of financial support from relatives living in Israel and features the new Bet Knesset Synagogue. However, after Azerbaijan's independence in 1991, many residents emigrated to Israel, the United States, and Europe, and the population dropped from the roughly 18,000 that lived there during the era of Communism.
The Jewish residents continue their worship in the remaining synagogues. Only eight of the thirteen synagogues have been preserved in the settlement.
Two synagogues exist in Qırmızı Qəsəbə: "Altı günbəz" (Grand) synagogue which was built in 1888 and renovated in 2000, and "Giləki" (Hilaki) synagogue which was built in 1896 and renovated recently.
Synagogues do not have a special call during worship. People come and pray because they know the time of worship. Morning worship begins at 8am. The afternoon worship comes at 8:00 p.m. and at 9:00 p.m. evening worship. Following tradition, women do not worship in the synagogue though may come to synagogues on holidays.
Residents speak in 3 language: Judeo-Tat which mountain Jews speak in daily life, Russian and Azerbaijan language. The majority of residents of this settlement have also mastered English. One of the two schools here is taught in Azerbaijani or Russian.
- Yevda Abramov (born 1948) - politician, member of parliament in Azerbaijan
- Zarakh Iliev (born 1966) - billionaire property developer
- Yagutil Mishiev (born 1927) - publicist
- God Nisanov (born 1972) - billionaire property developer, Vice-President of World Jewish Congress
- German Zakharyayev (born 1971) - businessman, Vice-President of Russian Jewish Congress
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Tucked away in the mountains of Azerbaijan is the world's only wholly Jewish town outside of Israel
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- Qırmızı Qəsəbə at GEOnet Names Server
- Inga Saffron, "The Mountain Jews of Guba", The Philadelphia Inquirer. July 21, 1997, page 1. Accessed on May 1, 2006
- Tom Parfitt, "Life Drains Away from Lost Tribe of Mountain Jews", The Daily Telegraph, April 27, 2003, Accessed on October 21, 2014
- Amiram Barkat, "The village people", Haaretz September 29, 2006, Accessed on September 30, 2006
Media related to Qırmızı Qəsəbə at Wikimedia Commons