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By Alanna E. Cooper

Part ethnography, half heritage, and half memoir, this quantity chronicles the complicated prior and dynamic current of an old Mizrahi group. whereas in detail tied to the vital Asian panorama, the Jews of Bukhara have additionally maintained deep connections to the broader Jewish international. because the neighborhood started to disperse after the autumn of the Soviet Union, Alanna E. Cooper traveled to Uzbekistan to rfile Jewish existence earlier than it disappeared. Drawing on ethnographic study there in addition to between immigrants to the USA and Israel, Cooper tells an intimate and private tale approximately what it skill to be Bukharan Jewish. with her historic examine a few sequence of dramatic encounters among Bukharan Jews and Jews in different components of the realm, this vigorous narrative illuminates the tensions inherent in retaining Judaism as a unmarried international faith over the process its lengthy and sundry diaspora history.

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Sample text

Yet, many chose not to. 1 Some moved farther east to Afghanistan and northeast to the fertile river valleys and oases of the region known as “Transoxiana,”2 ruled by the Persian Archaemenids. It was not until the sixteenth century that the name “Bukhara” was assigned to this territory. 3 While Jews could be found across the region encompassed by these two khanates (and later a third, Kokand),4 they clustered primarily in the cities of Samarkand and Bukhara,5 both silk-route hubs located within Bukhara Khanate.

It seemed an auspicious time to find entrée into the lives of the Jews who were emigrating. I began studying Russian and took a job at Torah Academy, one of the many private Jewish high schools that had been established in New York to help this immigrant population. I knew little about the school, other than that it was founded to provide the Soviet émigré student population with a Jewish education, which they had been denied in their home country. I learned much more on the opening day of the school year, the first time I was in the building since my job interview a few months before.

So, too, attention to the works and lives of those who had traditionally occupied the centers of power (intellectuals, men, politicians, the wealthy) gave way to a growing interest in the voices and experiences of immigrants, women, the working class, and the disenfranchised. 46 Additional avenues for exploring the Jews’ past were opened up in the 1980s and 1990s. With the advent of postmodern theory, new epistemological understandings began to challenge universal, detached narratives of history.

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