Accepted Paper:

Bukharan Jews: Memories of a Disappearing past  


Rahimjon Abdugafurov (Emory University)
Beverly Moran (Vanderbilt University)

Paper long abstract:

Bukharan Jews have occupied various Central Asian cities, towns, and villages for centuries. Some say they arrived at the end of the Babylonian exile when Cyrus the Great, gave the Jews permission to return to Palestine after his conquest of Babylonia, in 538 B.C.E. Other accounts trace Jewish emigration to Central Asia up to the 20th century with the constant assimilation of new waves of Jewish immigration. Whatever their provenance, Bukharan Jews were deeply ensconced in the region for centuries where they played a significant part in the development of Central Asian civilization.

Bukharan Jews relate their names to the city of Bukhara in current Uzbekistan. They state that they moved to this city two thousand years ago. The current documentary presents the stories from the memories of the six elderly Bukharan Jews equally represented from both genders, who currently reside either in New York city or in the city of Bukhara. After a brief introduction by the co-director, Rahimjon Abdugafurov, the interviewees speak about themselves including their background, profession, and what they are involved in at present. They tell stories about their childhood, neighbors, wedding parties, and traditions. They emphasize the importance of preserving the Bukharan Jewish culture and the language, which is known as Bukhori. They speak proudly of their friendly relations with Muslims in the city of Bukhara. The duration of the film is sixty-five minutes. Released on February, 28th, 2018, the film is supported by Vanderbilt and Emory Universities.

Despite an enormous cultural heritage created by Bukharan Jews in Central Asia, studying them remains wanting. Thousands of Judeo-Tajik manuscripts remain understudied. Some books appeared in the past few years, but that is far from enough. The goal of the current documentary is to contribute to the preservation of the Bukharan Jewish Language, also known as Bukhori and Judeo-Tajik and to encourage preservation of their cultural and material heritage.

With this aim in mind, we will first talk to some experts about Bukharan Jews and then, also enter to the daily lives of Bukharan Jews in Uzbekistan and hear their stories about their history and the lives in Uzbekistan and abroad.

Panel REL-05
Bukharan Jews: Memories of a Disappearing Past