Bukharan Jews and the Dynamics of Global Judaism by Alanna E. Cooper

By Alanna E. Cooper

Part ethnography, half historical past, and half memoir, this quantity chronicles the advanced earlier and dynamic current of an historical Mizrahi group. whereas in detail tied to the relevant Asian panorama, the Jews of Bukhara have additionally maintained deep connections to the broader Jewish global. because the neighborhood started to disperse after the autumn of the Soviet Union, Alanna E. Cooper traveled to Uzbekistan to record Jewish existence prior to it disappeared. Drawing on ethnographic learn there in addition to between immigrants to the U.S. and Israel, Cooper tells an intimate and private tale approximately what it ability to be Bukharan Jewish. with her historic learn a couple of sequence of dramatic encounters among Bukharan Jews and Jews in different elements of the realm, this vigorous narrative illuminates the tensions inherent in protecting Judaism as a unmarried worldwide faith over the process its lengthy and sundry diaspora history.

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Along these lines, the final level at which this gateway story—and more broadly this book—can be read is not about Jews in particular. Rather, it is about world religions more generally. At this level, the focus is on the work involved in navigating between diaspora’s centripetal and centrifugal forces: the centralizing claims of a global religion in tension with the pulls of varied local beliefs and practices. t wo Writing Bukharan Jewish History: Memory, Authority, and Peoplehood Geographical and Temporal Boundaries On my first day of teaching at Torah Academy, before I knew that my students were immigrants from Soviet Central Asia, I looked at the many faces in my classroom, and was perplexed.

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. As voices of contestation are integrated into multiperspectival histories, it is becoming increasingly more acceptable to write about streams of Judaism that had once been considered deviant, and the experiences of people once considered unimportant. 47 One recent work which nicely illustrates this contemporary understanding of the Jewish past is David Biale’s “new history” of the Jews.

This brief statement went a long way to explain the rather puzzling hiring process that had brought me to Torah Academy. After glancing over my resume, and exchanging what seemed to me to be no more than a few pleasantries, the principal had offered me the position of social studies teacher in the girls’ division. I would be responsible for teaching four classes, five days a week. The money was meager, the very hasty hiring process was perplexing, but I was a graduate student, excited for the opportunity to have an entrée into the Soviet émigré community, and I agreed without hesitation.

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