Kavkazi "Mountain Jews":

Ancient Hebrew and Persian roots at the border of Azerbaijan and Russia


Tuesday, January 3

USA 12:00 pm PT / 3:00 pm ET

UK 8:00 pm / France 09:00 pm / Israel 10:00 pm

The talk will last approximately 90 minutes

About this talk

The Jewish community of the Caucasus, the mountainous region between the Black and Caspian Seas, is known by many names. The terms "Kavkazi," taken from the Hebrew word for Caucasus, and "Mountain Jews", have been used interchangeably. But traditionally this community have called themselves "Juhuro," translated as "Jews", from their ancestral language Juhuri, a Middle Persian-Jewish dialect

Kavkazi Jews lived in Azerbaijan and the Russian Republics of the North Caucasus - Dagestan, Chechnya, Kabardino-Balkaria, and Karachay-Cherkessia. However, their history dates back to the expulsion of the Jews from Israel in biblical times, when they found refuge in the Persian Empire in the 500-600s BCE.

Eventually, Kavkazi Jews went further north into the mountains and established Jewish communities in their newfound homes in the Caucasus. There they remained under the sphere of Persian influence until 1812, when the lands of the Caucasus were ceded to Tsarist Russia, to be later absorbed into the Soviet Union after the Bolshevik Revolution.

This talk will feature an overview of Kavkazi Jewish origins, history, and the way in which the diaspora is making efforts to preserve their heritage today.

About Valeriya

Valeriya Nakshun is a Kavkazi Jewish culture writer, community organizer, and marketer based between Baltimore and Washington, DC. Originally born in the Republic of Dagestan in Russia, she immigrated with her family to the United States as refugees in the late nineties. She's a Community Outreach Fellow at Sephardic Heritage International DC (SHIN-DC) and a former Company Dancer at Silk Road Dance Company (SRDC). She also founded the "Kavkazi Jewish History and Culture" Facebook group, which seeks to explore, learn, and share resources about Kavkazi-Mountain Jewish heritage and build communal ties across the diaspora. Through her work at SRDC, she has performed traditional dances at the Embassies of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Tajikistan and at the Residence of the Japanese Ambassador. She's a graduate of the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) with a Bachelor of Arts in Media and Communication Studies and Art History.

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