Jewish, Bukharan in Uzbekistan

Jewish, Bukharan
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People Name: Jewish, Bukharan
Country: Uzbekistan
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 500
World Population: 140,500
Primary Language: Bukharic
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Jewish
Affinity Bloc: Jewish
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Bukharan Jews are an indigenous group within Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. They are known as "Bukharan" because they settled primarily in Bukhara, Uzbekistan but they prefer to be known as "Israel" or "Yahudi." They claim descent from the ten tribes of Israel who were exiled to Persia in the fifth century. They speak Bokhara, a Jewish dialect of Tajik.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Jews of Ashkenazic descent have lifestyles that are very much like those of other Jews in the former Soviet Union. However, they were allowed greater freedoms than the Jews in other parts of the Soviet Union, and they tenaciously clung to their Judaism. While some of them work as peddlers, shoemakers, or barbers many have become factory laborers or workers on farms. In recent years, large numbers of Bukharan Jewish people have left Uzbekistan due to economic hardship and fear of a nationalistic trend in the government.
In past centuries, the Bukharan Jewish people have experienced much discrimination from the predominant Muslim population. They were forced to live in isolated parts of the cities, called mahallas, to wear special signs on their clothing which marked them as Jews, and to pay special taxes. Only in the last ten years have Bukharan Jews been able to give cultural expression openly without fear of persecution. Today, several Hebrew study groups have been organized and are growing stronger.
During Soviet rule, both Bukharan men and women worked in factories that produced butter, bricks or textiles. Recently, they have returned to many of their traditional crafts such as shoemaking, hairdressing, tailoring and photography. The women are particularly known for their dancing at both Jewish and Muslim weddings. There are also many well-educated Bukharan Jews working as engineers, doctors, teachers and musicians.
Bukharan Jewish males were the heads of their patrilineal (descent traced through the males) extended families. Now, a pattern of separate nuclear families is becoming predominant. Bukharan Jews nearly always marry other Bukharan Jews. The parents of the groom send a matchmaker to the parents of the bride, and both dowry and bride-price must be settled prior to the engagement. They permit divorce and they have their own custom regarding the remarriage of widows.
Most Bukharan Jewish families are typical nuclear families. That is, they are composed of a man, a woman and their dependents. To keep wealth and prestige within the family, the Bukharan Jews have traditionally preferred marriage between cousins.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Bukharan Jews adhere to all traditional Jewish beliefs. They follow the Law of Moses by observing strict dietary laws, circumcising all male children, and observing the Sabbath. They also celebrate Jewish festivals like Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), and Passover.

What Are Their Needs?

The Bukharan Jews of Uzbekistan are uncertain about the direction of their nation. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan has been going through rapid and drastic changes. Anti-Semitism (persecution of Jews) is a possible result of the rise in nationalism.
Each of these Jewish communities needs to be introduced to Jesus, their Messiah. They need prayer to understand their need for him.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth loving Christians to work among the Jewish communities.
Pray that the Jewish people will understand that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah.
Ask the Lord to soften the hearts of the Jews towards Christians so that they might hear and receive the message of salvation.
Pray that God will grant Jewish believers favor as they share their faith in Christ with their own people.
Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Bukharan Jews of Uzbekistan.

Text Source:   Joshua Project