Jewish Tat, Mountain Jewish in Canada

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People Name: Jewish Tat, Mountain Jewish
Country: Canada
10/40 Window: No
Population: 2,100
World Population: 104,100
Primary Language: Judeo-Tat
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: No
People Cluster: Jewish
Affinity Bloc: Jewish
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Tat People of the Caucasus Region possibly hold both the most complex ethnic history and the most complex present-day changing dynamic of the 45 people groups of the North Caucasus. Most experts conclude that the Jewish Tat (also known as Mountain Jews) and the Muslim Tat come from ancient separate origins, but over many centuries, both function from the same Tat language. The Tat language is from the Persian family of languages originally spoken in southwest Persia (Iran). The Judeo Tat dialect is based on the Tat language with many Hebrew-Jewish words mixed in. Tat Jews/Mountain Jews assert they were originally Jews from the 10 northern tribes who were settled in the Assyrian Empire and eventually began using the local language of the region where they lived. Muslim Tats hail originally from the same region and were also part of a northward migration—or military resettlement by the Persian Empire—into the Caucasus Region, starting in the early A.D. era. The situation was further complicated when the Soviets lumped these two groups (Muslim and Jewish) together because of their commonly shared language.

Where Are they Located?

At the peak in the mid-20th Century there may have been at least 50,000 Tat Jews in Dagestan and 40,000 in Azerbaijan. Massive emigration to Israel by Tat Jews from both countries picked up pace in the 1980s and 90s—leaving present estimates of Jewish Tat populations in the eastern Caucasus at such a low level one wonders if they still live there. You are more likely to find them in Azerbaijan or Israel. One fourth of them live in Brooklyn, New York, and about half now live in Israel. There are also smaller numbers in Canada.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Mountain Jews have a traditional family structure. Males were the heads of their patrilineal (descent traced through the males) extended families. The parents of the groom sent a matchmaker to the parents of the bride, and both dowry and bride-price had to be settled before the engagement. Now, a pattern of separate nuclear families is becoming predominant, especially in Canada and the United States. Whenever possible, they marry members of their own community. This is very difficult in Canada where there are so few of them.

What Are Their Beliefs?

For religious Jews, God is the Supreme Being, the Creator of the universe, and the ultimate judge of human affairs. Beyond this, the religious beliefs of the Jewish communities vary greatly. Orthodox Jews generally follow the traditional religious beliefs and practices found in the Jewish literature that interprets Scripture regarding ethical, religious, civil, and criminal matters. Reform Jews do not believe that God reveals the Jewish Law. They are not restricted to kosher foods. They neither wear the skullcap (yarmulke) when praying nor use Hebrew in prayer. All religious Jews believe in the coming of a Messianic Age, but only the Orthodox Jews look for a personal Messiah. Many Jewish people keep cultural Judaism, but they have rejected the spiritual elements taught in the Old Testament. They might take part in cultural events and even religious ceremonies, but they are secular or New Age in their spiritual lives.

What Are Their Needs?

Each Jewish community in Canada needs to be introduced to Jesus, their Messiah. There is a great need for faithful intercession for the Jews if they are to come to an understanding of the gospel and a saving knowledge of Christ.

Prayer Points

Pray for a complete and accurate Bible translation into the Tat language. Pray for a spiritual hunger among the many Jewish Tats in Canada who view their "Jewishness" as an ethnic identity but with no religious belief. Pray that Jewish people in North America will understand that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah. Pray that Christian materials will be translated accurately and distributed widely to Jewish Tat speakers in Canada and the United States.

Text Source:   Joshua Project