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Bukharan Jews (Bukhoran Jews, Bukharian Jews) is a blanket term for Jews from Central Asia who speak Bukhori, a dialect of the Tajik language. Their name comes from the Tajik city of Bukhara, which once had a large Jewish community. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the vast majority have moved to Israel and the United States.

The Bukharan Jews trace their ancestry to Israelites who never came back from the Babylonian captivity after exile in the 7th century BCE. In Central Asia, they survived for centuries subject to many conquering influences. The community was essentially cut off from the rest of the Jewish world for more than 2,000 years and managed to survive in the face of countless odds. They are considered one of the oldest ethno-religious groups of Central Asia and over the years they have developed their own distinct culture.

Most Bukharan Jews lived in Emirate of Bukhara, currently Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, while a small number lived in Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and some other parts of the former Soviet Union. In Emirate of Bukhara, the largest concentrations were in Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khokand. In Tajikistan, they similarly were mainly concentrated in the capital, Dushanbe.
The term "Bukharian" was coined by European travelers who visited Central Asia around the 16th century. Since most of the Jewish community at the time lived under the Emirate of Bukhara, they came to be known as Bukharan Jews. They regarded themselves as "Isro'il" and "Yahudi."

Bukharan Jews used the Persian language to communicate among themselves and later developed "Bukhori", a distinct dialect of the Tajiki-Persian language with certain linguistic traces of Hebrew. This language provided easier communication with their neighboring communities and was used for all cultural and educational life among the Jews. It was used widely until the area was "russified" by the Russians and the dissemination of "religious" information was halted. Almost all Bukharan Jews today speak Russian& minority use Bukhori.
by SuperGraf October 10, 2006
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