Monday, January 14, 2013

Uzbekistan | Bukhara | Jewish Quarter

Just south of Trade Dome #1 is Bukhara’s Jewish Quarter. There had been a big Jewish community in Bukhara for centuries and during the nineteenth century it seemed to have flourished, considering the luxurious mansions which many Jewish traders built at the time. After the fall of the Soviet Union many members of the Bukhara Jewish community emigrated to Israel, the U.S.A. and other countries. A few stayed behind and some have renovated the mansions of their families into Guesthouses. Others sold their properties to individuals in Bukhara who have either turned them into guesthouses or use them as private residences. Some were sold to gadabouts and adventuresses seeking second homes in Bukhara. While in Bukhara I visited one of these second homes which is now under renovation. 
Street in the Jewish Quarter (click on photos for enlargements)
 Entrance to mansion in the Jewish Quarter
 The extensive quarters of the mansion are built around a courtyard. This is the main part of the compound, including the big dining room on the first floor. 
 Some of the other buildings surrounding the courtyard
 The Dining Room, always a prominent feature in the homes of the Jewish merchants of Bukhara
 Entrance to the Dining Room 
Decoration in Dining Room
 Decoration in Dining Room
 Decoration in Dining Room
 Decoration in Dining Room
 Decoration in Dining Room
 Decoration in Dining Room
 Decoration in Dining Room
Mausoleum of a Sufi holy man in the Jewish Quarter
This photo of Jewish boys and their teacher was taken in 1910 by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii in Samarkand, but presumably the Jewish people of Bukhara looked much the same at the time.

See Illuminating Jewish Life in a Muslim Empire for an intriguing story about the Jewish community a thousand years ago in Afghanistan, just to the south of Uzbekistan.