The Jews of Georgia: A Diverse and Ancient Community in the Caucasus

Thursday, February 1

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

Travel with us to the Caucasus Mountains and get acquainted with a diverse Jewish world, one that still sings in Georgian, Yiddish, Ladino and Jukhuri. All these languages were spoken by Georgia's Jewish communities, something which made the country one of the most unique locations in the Jewish world.

Prior to Georgia's annexation by the Russian Empire and later by the USSR, the 2,600-year history of the Georgian Jews was marked by an almost total absence of antisemitism and a visible assimilation into the Georgian culture.

The wedding and religious traditions of the Georgian Jewry opened the Jewish world to their Christian and Muslim neighbors, resulting in one of the most successful integration and tolerance best practices globally.

Once numbering as many as 100,000, today the Georgian Jewish population comprises only a few thousand people, after most of the community immigrated to Israel, United States and Belgium.

About Lasha

Lasha Shakulashvili was born and raised in a family of ethnic Georgians, who only spoke Georgian at home. As a fifth generation Tbilisian, Lasha grew up in one of the most multicultural and multi-faith cities of the world and was surrounded by the Georgian, Russian and Yiddish-speaking vibrant communities of the Georgia's Jewry. His childhood inspired him to earn a PhD degree in Jewish Studies.

Lasha has graduated from various academic programs at the Paideia - The European Institute for Jewish Studies in Sweden (Isaac Bashevis Singer Fellow 2021/2022), Tel Aviv University and Inaugural Yiddish Program at the University of Oxford. He has previously worked for the Permanent Mission of Georgia to the United Nations and hold the European Union-supported prize on diversity reporting.

Currently, Lasha is a lecturer of Yiddish language and culture at the Tbilisi State University in Georgia and is undertaking research at the National Library of Israel. Apart from his native Georgian, Lasha speaks English, Russian, Yiddish, Latvian and Hebrew.

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With your contribution, you will also be donating to the Yiddish Theater of Tbilisi, whose crew includes actors with Jewish, Georgian, and Armenian heritage.

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