August 14, 2022

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The Thriving Jewish Communities of Kazakhstan | Gil Smolinski

4 min read

My Personalized Connection with Jews in Kazakhstan

The Jewish history of Kazakhstan is a long and to some degree sad one—many finished up there soon after fleeing from European and Russian persecution. Now, having said that, the modest Jewish communities of Kazakhstan are thriving, with working day educational facilities, community facilities, and synagogues.

I’ve prolonged experienced an curiosity in the Jewish communities of Kazakhstan and have made a near romance with Rabbi Shmuel Karnoach, a Chabad emissary living in Astana, the country’s money (lately renamed Nur-Sultan). I’ve been associated with the Chabad house there and have created contributions towards combating assimilation, covering the costs of kosher food and medicine, and arranging transportation for intercontinental Jewish attendees.

Historical past

Not significantly is recognised about the initial Jews who arrived to Kazakhstan. Early reviews day back to the 17th century, when several Ashkenazi Jews discovered their way there from Russia. Others from the Pale of Settlement have been exiled by Joseph Stalin for practising Judaism. The Jews who lived in Kazakhstan didn’t build synagogues or maintain community services. They held a lower profile and held prayer services in people’s homes.

During Environment War II, approximately 8,500 Jews fled the fires of Europe and settled in the safety of Kazakhstan. They constructed communities there, even though these steadily declined involving 1959 and 1989. The following 15 many years noticed those communities dwindle further because of to huge Jewish emigration to Israel soon after the drop of the Soviet Union.

Hanukkah in Nur Sultan (Astana)

Jews in Kazakhstan Right now

Currently, there are various thousand Jews living in the state. Most share a lot of customs similar to all those of their Russian neighbors and also speak the same language. Others are Bukharian or Juhuro Mountain Jews. Moreover, there are about 50 Persian-Jewish family members who connect with them selves Lakhloukh and talk Aramaic.

Whilst I have a shut connection with the Jews of Astana, the premier Jewish group in Kazakhstan is in the metropolis of Almaty. There is a Chabad synagogue there named immediately after Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, an influential Rabbi and the father of the famed Lubavitcher Rebbe, who is buried in the city’s cemetery. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak had been exiled to Kazakhstan from the Ukraine, and a lot of Chabad Jews appear to pray at his grave. There are other compact communities of Jews in Karaganda, Chimkent, Semiplatinsk, Kokchetav, Dzhambul, Uralsk, Aktyubinsk, and Petropavlovsk.

For a somewhat compact Jewish inhabitants, there are 20 Jewish corporations, which include the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the Jewish Agency for Israel, and Chabad Lubavitch. In overall, there are 14 Jewish working day educational facilities attended by much more than 700 learners. The main Rabbi of Kazakhstan is Rabbi Yeshaya Elazar HaCohen who is also the chair for the Eurasian Rabbinate Council. The funds metropolis of Nur-Sultan (Astana) has its have Rabbi, Rabbi Shmuel Karnoach, who is deeply included with Chabad and Jewish lifestyle in the metropolis.

The Jewish Company sponsors youth centers in various metropolitan areas in which Jewish teenagers can study about their lifestyle, heritage, and Hebrew. Chabad operates synagogues, group centers, and universities in addition to systems for meals distribution, aged treatment, and a children’s summer months camp.

Chabad Kazakhstan

Anti-Semitism and Israel Relations

Anti-Semitism in Kazakhstan is unusual and contained, many thanks to the state’s spiritual tolerance, relationship again to the Ottoman empire. All over historical past, Kazakhstan’s tolerance in the direction of different religions and cultures has manufactured the Jewish community prosper.  The Jewish group in Kazakhstan enjoys aid and liberty of religion. Judaism is mentioned by the Kazakh government as one particular of the “traditional” religions and so receives governing administration defense. In fact, it is in the government’s best desire to cultivate a superior romantic relationship with Jewish communities, the two to boost trade and to raise Kazakhstan’s worldwide image.

Kazakhstan’s relationship with Israel is welcoming and cooperative. In 2015, Israel’s Overseas Ministry and Agricultural Ministry inaugurated a undertaking to help Kazakhstan develop its irrigation methods. Authorities representatives from both nations around the world attended the opening ceremony, which took place in Almaty. In 2016, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu frequented Kazakhstan and met with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Jews in Kazakhstan in the Age of COVID-19

Due to the fact the slide of the Soviet Union, the Jewish inhabitants of Kazakhstan has been dwindling due to emigration to Israel. Nonetheless, the Jews that are living there continue to sense a strong sense of group and cohesion. In the course of COVID-19, Rabbi Yeshaya Elazar HaCohen, Kazakhstan’s main rabbi, and other spiritual leaders identified as for preventative steps, to which the group adhered. Leaders made use of social media to manage volunteer help for the community’s vulnerable members. Spiritual services and academic instruction moved on the net to reduce the threat of infection.

All rabbis dwelling in Kazakhstan are immigrants and users of the Chabad Lubavitch Hasidic sect, which is headquartered in Brooklyn, NY. Chabad is known for its outreach initiatives in nations all over the world. In Kazakhstan, Chabad rabbis accomplish kosher slaughtering, train, and lead congregations. Whilst they are technically outsiders, the Jewish communities have embraced them. The closeness of these communities is proving their very best defense against the pandemic that’s ravaging the environment.

Gil Smolinski is a organization developer, entrepreneur, and advisor to startups. He is a loving husband and father of two, who enjoys the depths of publications and the sea and tends to dive into both.

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