Jew, Georgian in Israel

Jew, Georgian
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People Name: Jew, Georgian
Country: Israel
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 61,000
World Population: 62,400
Primary Language: Judeo-Georgian
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 1.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.90 %
Scripture: Unspecified
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Jews
Affinity Bloc: Jews
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Georgian Jews began moving to Palestine in the middle of the 19th century. According to a 1915 census, more than six percent of the Jews in Jerusalem and almost a quarter of the Jews in the Old City were Georgian. By 1916 there were about 440 Georgian Jews living in a small community near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem close to the Ottoman region known as Mutasarrifate. True to their Jewish Georgian culture they kept a firm foundation based on their Jewish religion, language, music, clothes, and customs. This is how Georgian Jews have kept their unique identity throughout their history. In Georgia they traditionally lived separately, not only from the surrounding Georgian people, but also from the Ashkenazi Jews in Tbilisi, who had different practices and language. Most Georgian Jews who made Aliyah (immigrating to Israel) were poor and worked as freight-handlers in Jerusalem. They were forced to flee their homes in Israel during the 1929 Arab riots in Palestine. On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel; however the Jewish people in the USSR, including the Georgian Jews, were not permitted to immigrate to Israel. Only a very few managed to leave.
From June 5-10, 1967 Israel and the Arabs fought a six day war in which Israel won a decisive victory. Huge numbers of Soviet Jews began protesting for the right to immigrate to Israel, and many applied for exit visas. Georgian Jews made up a large percentage of these people. The Israeli government and the Jewish world campaigned heavily on behalf of the plight of the Soviet and Georgian Jewish people. During the 1970s, the Soviets permitted limited Jewish emigration to Israel.
Unlike virtually all other recent Soviet immigrants, the Georgians also arrived with a strong religious tradition. They come off the planes carrying large Torah scrolls. Men wear their kippah (head covering) and some have the tallit (prayer shawl) draped around their shoulders. Often with tears there is a prayer many will recite out loud in Hebrew is, "Shema. Hear, O Israel: Adonai is our God, Adonai in One! Blessed is God's name; His glorious kingdom is for ever and ever! And you shall love Adonai your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might." Often when the Georgian Jews arrive in Israel a rabbi comes with them. Their first act upon arriving on a new community was usually to establish a synagogue.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Most Georgian Jewish people live according to the laws of Orthodox Judaism in respect to Jewish worship, Jewish feasts, kosher food and all Jewish traditions. They send their children to Jewish religious schools and expect them to live and learn to live their lives with sound morals according to Jewish teaching. They sometimes struggle to earn what they need to take care of basic essentials of everyday life. Most Georgian Jews tend to group together, and they strongly support each other and their families.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Rabbinical Judaism is the dominant religion of Georgian Jews in this region, and their officially recognized synagogues are Orthodox. They are active in their Jewish communities and emphasis the study of the Hebrew Scriptures in their lives.
Most Georgian Jewish people have managed to remain firm in their Orthodox Judaism through all the oppressions they have been through. Now they have a new challenge! They are living in Israel where the majority of Jewish people are secular or following a modern trend in Reformed Judaism. Ironically, some of the younger Georgian Jews living in Israel are beginning to break away from the strict Orthodox teaching which is a deep concern to their parents and community.

What Are Their Needs?

There is a great need for the Messianic Jewish believers in Israel to develop friendships with the Georgian Jewish people so they can share how God fulfilled his promises through Jesus. They need also to know that becoming a Messianic Christian believer does not mean that will have to forsake their Jewish identity. Another need that is important is found in the Georgian Christians that live in Israel. There are Georgian Christians in Israel, primarily foreign workers. A few are married to Jewish Israelis. They do not have any opportunity to worship in the Georgian language, as there is currently no church in Israel that uses the Georgian language.

Prayer Points

Pray that Georgian Christ followers living in Israel will grow in faith and become strong in reaching out to the Georgian Jews who have settled in Israel. Pray they will be able to communicate the gospel in a culturally sensitive way that takes into account the traditions of the Georgian Jewish people.
Pray Messianic Jewish believers in Israel will have opportunities to befriend and share God's message of salvation through Jesus with the Georgian Jewish people of Israel.
Pray Georgian Jewish people in Israel will be open to hearing God's voice through His servants.
Pray that answers to the problems producing the ongoing political turmoil, economic struggles and fighting in Israel will bring some resemblance of peace for its people.

Text Source:   Joshua Project