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In Bukhara, 10,000 Jewish Graves but Just 150 Jews

All the same, he praised Chabad for supporting the few remaining Jews in Bukhara, who rely on Rabbi Abramchayev in Tashkent for their kosher food.

On a recent visit to Bukhara, the rabbi slaughtered six chickens in Ms. Kimatova’s courtyard and then wielded his knife on three cows at a farm outside the city. To the dismay of the Uzbek farmer who had raised the cows, the rabbi declared one of them not-kosher after having it skinned and putting his hand into the carcass to check its organs. His decision meant that the Uzbek could not make a sale — and was stuck with the bloody carcass.

Relations between Jews and Muslims have not always been harmonious. In the 18th century, Muslim preachers began forcing Jews to convert, creating a community of residents known as chalas, whose descendants still form a distinct community.

Under the emir of Bukhara, a notoriously cruel leader of what, until Russia invaded in the 19th century, was an independent khanate or state, Jews lived “in utmost oppression,” said a Hungarian-Jewish traveler who visited shortly before Russia’s conquest. The emir blamed Jews for his defeat by the Russians.

Over the centuries, Bukhara’s Jews spread out to other towns in Uzbekistan and other parts of Central Asia, and from there to countries around the world. Today, many Jews now living in Queens, Israel and elsewhere, no matter whether they have any direct connection with Bukhara, often consider themselves “Bukharian Jews.”

Among them is Lev Leviev, an Israeli billionaire and supporter of the Chabad movement who was born in Samarkand, an Uzbek city east of Bukhara. He is president of the World Congress of Bukharian Jews, an organization with chapters around the world that seeks to preserve ties between the community’s now widely scattered members.

Each year before Passover, Mr. Leviev sends supplies of matzo, an unleavened flatbread, to Bukhara so that the few remaining Jews there can celebrate the holiday.

Source: NYT > World

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