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A Visit to the Heart of the Ancient Silk Road: The Jews of Uzbekistan

Tuesday, January 17, 2023 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm


Uzbekistan, a landlocked country in Central Asia south and southeast of the Aral Sea (bordered by Kazakhstan in the west and north east, by Turkmenistan in the south west, Afghanistan in the south, and Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in the east), is the most populous country in Central Asia and is rich in history, culture, and diversity. It has been a part of numerous empires and was once the main centerof the Silk Road. The meaning of the name Uzbek is disputed. One version is that it is derived from Turkish ‘uz/öz’ (‘good’ or ‘true’) and ‘bek’ (‘guardian’). Unlike the neighboring Kazakhs and Kyrgyz, but like their close cousins the Uyghurs, the Uzbeks were mostly a sedentary people, building impressive cities along the old Silk Road. According to tradition, the oldest of Uzbekistan’s Jewish communities, that in Bukhara, was established more than 2,000 years ago following the Babylonian destruction of the First Temple. Other accounts tell of Jews fleeing Persian persecution more than 1,500 years ago and yet others bring Jews to Uzbekistan as merchants on the Silk Road in the seventh century. By any account, Jews in Uzbekistan have a long history. Most were artisans and merchants since land ownership was forbidden. And, like most other Uzbeks, they rode out the tumultuous history of the region, marked by invasions by Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, the Sardians, the Qarakhanids, the Seljuks, the Persians, the Turks, and the Chinese, all who ravaged Central Asia.

Evgenia Kempinski is a Russian Jew born and raised in St. Petersburg. Her family was originally from the Pale of Settlement – Poland, Ukraine and Belorussia – and endured the suppression of Judaism in the Soviet Union then the rebirth of Jewish culture and religious life in today’s St. Petersburg. She has been an official St. Petersburg tour guide for over 15 years and is the founder and owner of St.Petersburg Jewish Tours – a company offering Jewish travelers a unique experience of showcasing the best of Russia from a Jewish point of view. She currently lives in Haifa, Israel, still keeping close connections with St. Petersburg and its Jewish community.

CSP Partners: Beth Israel (San Diego, CA), Brotherhood Synagogue (Gramercy Park, NYC), Congregation Adath Jeshurun (Elkins Park, PA), Congregation Beth Shalom (Seattle, WA), Congregation B’nai Tzedek (Fountain Valley, CA), Congregation B’nai Israel (Tustin, CA), Jewish Collaborative of Orange County, Shomrei Torah Synagogue (San Fernando Valley, CA), Temple Bat Yahm (Newport Beach, CA), Temple Beth David (Westminster, CA),Temple Beth El of South Orange County (Aliso Viejo, CA), Temple Beth Emet (Anaheim, CA), Temple Beth Ohr (La Mirada, CA), Temple Beth Shalom (Needham, MA), Temple Beth Shalom (Santa Fe, New Mexico), Temple Beth Sholom (Santa Ana, CA), Temple Emanuel (Newton, MA), Town & Village Synagogue (NYC, NY), Temple Judea of Laguna Woods, CA, University Synagogue (Irvine, CA), Valley Beth Shalom (Encino, CA) & Walnut Street Synagogue (Chelsea, MA)


Tuesday, January 17, 2023
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Event Categories:


San Diego, CA United States


Adult Education