What Remains of Tajikistan’s Synagogue

by Nathan Hamm on 2/20/2006 · 3 comments

It’s been amost two years since Registan.net mentioned Tajikistan’s last synagogue and it being slated for destruction to make way for new government buildings. It has been saved in the past, but, as a Dushanbe expat reports, its days are be numbered.–Nathan

The last remaining synagogue in Tajikistan is being torn down. The Jewish center and surrounding neighborhood have been threatened with demolition for years, but interventions by the US and Israeli embassies and Jewish religious authorities in Tashkent brought previous assurances that the synagogue would either be saved or fairly compensated. The demolition is scheduled as part of a huge presidential palace complex being built in the center of town. Without written warning or any legal notification, the water and phones were cut on 7 February, and the bulldozers came in this week. The building is still standing but half of the property, including the mikveh (ritual bath), classroom space, and the kosher butchery, are
demolished. The road to the synagogue is gone and people must now walk over mud and demolition waste to get to the entrance, the courtyard has been turned into storage space for the demolition work, all by order (or with the blessing of) city authorities.

The government promises that they will not demolish the rest of the synagogue until June, but they’ve also promised not to destroy the synagogue at all, which means that aything could happen at any time. Rabbi Abdurakhmonov, the community’s leader, says he has been threatened by government officials for raising his voice.

The government hasn’t offered any realistic compensation – they said the community can have some land several kilometers from the center of town, and disregard the fact that the Jews have no money to build anything on it.

Most of the Jews left are elderly or poor, and the community in general does not have enough funds to relocate to another space.

Click photos for larger versions.


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This post was written by...

– author of 2992 posts on Registan.net.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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