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Saving Bukharian Jewish History

May 10, 2010 | Newsmakers, Queens College

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 a quarter-million Bukharian Jews left Uzbekistan, Central Asia, their home for almost 2,000 years. Some 50,000 settled in Forest Hills-Rego Park, Queens, the largest concentration in the U.S., according to Queens College Adjunct Professor Imanuel Rybakov, who is teaching “History and Culture of the Bukharian Jews,” the first such course at an American university. “Our schools were closed in 1940 and for 60 years we didn’t have the opportunity to study our own language or to write our own history,” Prof. Rybakov said in an interview. “Only in Israel and the U.S. we were able to educate our children and grandchildren about what it means to be a Bukharian Jew.” That includes the Bukhori language, a combination of Farsi and Hebrew, and some customs that resemble those of Central Asian Muslims.
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