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April 05, 1974 - Image 19

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1974-04-05

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Friday, April 5, 1974-19



See me for long term leasing— (All Makes)







les. 559-5584

Bus. 354-3000

Best Wishes To Our
Many Jewish
Friends and Customers

For a



31455 Southfield Rd.

Stnolar's Recollections of Bukharan Visit

(Continued from Page 18)
with thick Bukhara rungs,
on which lay cushions en-
cased in thick Bukhara silk
and other native woven fab-
rics. People sat on these
cushions when they prayed,
according to an ancient
Oriental custom. At the east .
wall stood a sculptured holy ,
ark, in which were deposited•
ancient scrolls encased , in
their coverings, embellished
with gold and silver arti-
facts,. relics certainly of
priceless worth.
The Jewish tailor who
guided me to this "court-
yard" spoke a few words to
the rabbi in Tadjik, and the
rabbi extended his long, lean
hand toward me in friendly
welcome, and greeted me in
Hebrew: "Shalom!"
He invited me to his home
and expressed the hope that
my time was not limited and
that I would be able to spend
a few hours with him and
his family.
"I have so much to ask
you, and you certainly must
have much to tell us!" he
spoke'in Hebrew.
The Jewish tailor had, ap-
parently, informed him that
I had come from that remote
land, America.
The _ aged rabbi offered
me the traditional cup of
Turkish coffee with which
every guest in the Orient is

honored. He then summoned
all the members of his fam-
ily to be presented to me.
"You are the first Jew
from America whom I have
seen in my lifetime . I
want my children and grand-
children to see you also,"
he spoke in Hebrew. "Let
them know how a Jew from
another world looks! . . ."
His family consisted of his
wife, his son, who was al-
ready a gray-headed man,
perhaps in his fifties, his
son's wife and his grandchil-
dren, who were already
grown up. Clad in his long,
loose robe of ,Bukharan silk
usually worn by the natives,
with his long white beard
and delicate features, he
looked, standing there in the
midst of his family, like a
biblical patriarch. His fam
ily, naturally, resided in the
same house, which was a
primitive structure,, white-
washed in the interior-, as
well as on the exterior.
He explained 'to his house-
hold, speaking in Tadjik,
that I was a Jew from a very
distant country; that I was
a world traveler; and that I
came to Bukhara to see how
the Jews lived here. The
curiosity with which his fam-
ily scrutinized me bore testi-
mony to the fact that, ,to
them, I was an entirely
strange type of Jew.
"My grandchildren had, in-
deed, never seen a 'foreign'
Jew," he told me, explain-
ing that Bukhara was for-
bidden' territory to foreign-
ers, and even Soviet Jews
may not enter into the
province unless they were
government officials on some
special mission. Then, he
"Even in Czarist days we
had never seen Jews from
abroad. Those ,Russian Jews
who had come here were
soldiers who were sent to
serve in military detach-
ments stationed here. On
Rosh Hashana and Yom
Kippur they would appear,
in military uniform in the
synagogue. I would invite a
few of them to participate in
our seder services in my
home on Passover. However,
since the Communist take-
over, we haven't, seen any
Jews here in the military.
If there be any, I never see
them in the synagogue."
* *
"I'm sure you' wish to
know how we live in Buk-
hara," he returned to his
discussion in Hebrew. "But
I would like to hear from
you about life of our brothers
in your remote country and
in other countries as well.
Also about the life of Jews
in the land of Israel. Have
you ever •been in the land
of Israel?" he suddenly in-
terrupted his talk with a
"A number of times!" I re:
"Tell us then first, how
are our Bukhara Jews faring
there? Have you visited the
Bukhara Quarter in Jeru-
"Certainly! . . . I am very
well acquainted with that
quarter . . ."
"Tell us, then" he became
more and more inquisitive.
"It's extremely difficult for
us to maintain contact with
our brothers in the land of
Israel . During the Czarist
regime this was easier to





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As life insurance people, we rejoice, with deep humility,. in the fact that
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At this time we extend a sincere wish for a happy Passover to one and all.

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Detroit Centre Branch
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Dominion Life


Our Success Is Built on a Firm Foundation of Sincere Service --

achieve. We were able to
correspond. Now it has be-
come much more difficult.
To cross the border of Buk-
hara in order to make our
way to Jerusalem has now
become practically impos-
sible. That is why we had
lost touch with the Bukhara
Jewish community in Jeru-
"Every detail you can tell
us about it will become a
powerful invigoration for all
the Jews here. Almost every
Jew in Bukhara has rela-
tives in the land of Israel
and later, when I repeat in
the synagogue what you told
us here, it will be like bring-
ing living greetings for every
Jewish family in this coun-
try . . ."
I related to him and to his
son everything I knew about
the Jews in the Bukhara
Quarter in Jerusalem. They
devoured every word I spoke.
I drew for them a general
picture of life in that ancient
Bukhara Quarter; about the
older generation which still
held to the acceptance of
polygamy; about the younger
generation which was more
modern, yet was bound to
the old mode of family life;
about the colorful wedding
ceremonies I had witnessed
in their quarter which con-
tinued for several days in
rejoicing and song."
I also described the isola-
tion in which Bukharan Jews
exist holding to their reli-
gious customs and family
traditions and the fast bonds
which are extant between

A large portion of our con-
versation was, naturally,. de-
voted to Jewish life in Buk-
hara. The information given
me by the rabbi — the head
of the community — was of
the utmost interest.
That year the Jewish
population in Bukhara num-
bered some 45,000 people,
7,006 of theni residents of the
city of Bukhara. Yet no
m6re than 113 Jews were
members of the local Com-
munist Party. Of course,'
these were all young Jews.
But even among these there
was a goodly number who
used to attend the synagogue
on Yom Kippur. And that
was already 12 years after
the Communists had taken
Over the rule of Bukhara.
The anti-religious propa-
ganda of the ComMunist
Party engendered no note-
worthy influence upon the
Bukhara Jews, where reli-
gious traditions had been
deeply rooted froth very an-
cient times. Nor had such
indoctrination been pursued
here, as energetically as in
the European part of the So-
viet Union. The central So-
viet government was con-
ducting an entirely different
policy in regard to religion
within its possessions in Cen-
tral Asia. It understood very
well how deeply religious
persuasion had been implant-
ed among the Moslem popu-
lace there, and it wanted to
keep the Moslem people in
tranquility rather than in tur-
moil, which anti-religious
acts would have evoked. In
any case, the Jewish religion
had benefitted by those cir-
cumstances. It was allowed
to remain in complete peace.
The rabbi told me that no
one ever interfered with him

in the conduct of his com-
munity's religious program;
"kashrut" was permitted;
the synagogue had an ample
supply of copies of the Pen-
tateuch and other religious
tomes; prayer-shawls posed
no problem because they
could be woven locally; there
was no paucity of phylac-
teries. Religion, the rabbi
emphasized, was still quite
solidly entrenched among the
Jewish adolescent genera-
tion, which had remained
under the influence of the
family, although the regional
Soviet government was doing
its best to draw away the
Jewish youth from its Jewish
tradition by attracting them
to enroll in secular clubs.
The common speech used
by the Jews was Tadjik,
the rabbi continued. Very
few Jews spoke Hebrew, al-
though they recited their
prayers in Hebrew. It was
becoming more difficult to
teach children the reading
of Hebrew, because they
were now compelled to At-
tend government public
schools under the existing
laws for the compulsory edu_
cation of children of school
age. What the influence of
Communist courses in the
public schools will have on
the Jewish children was
difficult for him to predict,
but he was already antici-
pating severe competition
for the control of the Jewish
, child between the home,
which was solidly, religiously
Jewish and the public school
which was atifeistic.
Anti-Semitism? . . . Yes,
there were anti-Semitic ele-
ments in Bukhara. Anti-Jew-
ish sentiments had been en-
couraged in Bukhara back
in Czarist days and now
there still existed unfriendly
feelings toward Jews even
among certain individuals in
the Communist administra-
tion. Two years before in
1928, even a ritual murder
accusation had teen brought
against the Jews in Bukhara,
and it had spread throughout
Uzbekistan. The most curious
aspect of this case was that
the boy 'who had vanished,
on whose account the ritual
murder case had been pre-
sented, was himself a Jewish
child, proven when the police
found him alive.
Until the Communist Revo-
lution there had been among
the Bukhara Jewi._-a signifi-
cant number of merchants of
considerable substance. But
they had disappeared a long
time ago. They smuggled
themselves across to Afghan-
istan and made their way to
other countries. The present
Jewish population in Buk-
hara consisted nearly entire-
ly of artisans, some of whom
were self-employed, while
others were employed in
artels cooperative shops.
They were chiefly tailors,
cobblers, weaver s, cap-
makers, carpenters and simi-
lar tradesmen. Their earn-
ings were meager and their
families large.
The rabbi related many
other interesting facts. Prior
to my taking leave from him,
he agreed to pose with his
family for me for a snap-
shot. This photograph played
later an important role in
Jerusalem where the Buk-
haran Jewish community
had thought the rabbi put to
death by the Communists.

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