History of the Jews

Buhkara

History of the Jews in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

Kazakhstan

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.

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.

Kazakhstan’s oil-sales to Israel

Over 25% of Israel’s oil purchases today are from Kazakhstan, and Kazakhstan is seeking to increase its oil sales to Israel.

Kyrgyzstan

The history of the Jews in Kyrgyzstan is linked directly to the history of the Bukharian Jews of Uzbekistan. Until the 20th century, most Jews living in the Kyrgyz areas were of the Bukharian Jewish community.

Archeological findings suggests that Jewish traders from Khazaria started visiting the Kyrgyz territory around the 6th century CE.

According to a census held in 1896, the Jews represented about 2% of the region total population. It can be assumed that almost 100% of these Jews were Bukharian Jews or at least Sephardic Jews, meaning no Ashkenazi Jews were living in the Kyrgyz area before the 20th century. During World War II many Jews fled from the European parts of the Soviet Union to central Asia, including Kyrgyzstan, making the Jewish community of Kyrgyzstan combined out of an Ashkenazi community and a Bukharian Sephardic one. The two communities functioned separately and though it did occasionally happen, Ashkenazi–Sephardi intermarriages were not common.

During the beginning of the 20th century, numerous Jewish Businessmen owned businesses in the Kyrgyz area − among them Yuri Davidov, who owned cotton factories in the Fergana valley, Boris Kagan who established a network of bookshops, and the Polyakov brothers who founded a branch of the “Azov-don commercial bank”. Due to the need in doctors, teachers and engineers, many Ashkenazi Jews began to emigrate to Kyrgyzstan from European Russia.

During the Second World War, more than 20,000 Ashkenazi Jews fled to Kyrgyzstan from the Nazi-occupied western parts of the Soviet Union. After the Second World War the percentage of the Jewish population began to decline and in early 2001 the Jews represented only 0.03% of the total population.

Wikipedia

Galina Toktalieva

Kyrgyzstan-born author residing in Graz, Austria

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