Traditional Bukharian Houses in The Old Jewish Mahalla

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In the Middle Ages, Bukhara became the heart of Jewish life in central Asia, as Jews from other communities in the region settled there. By the turn of the twentieth century, the Jewish community of Bukhara was the largest among a network of Jewish minorities in Uzbek cities including Tashkent, Samarkand, Kokand, Andijan, Marghilan, and Navoi. Bukharian Jews were active in establishing trade connections with the Russian Empire and held positions in law, medicine, and local government, while others were well-known musicians, actors, and dancers. Following the Russian Revolution and throughout the Holocaust, Jews from Eastern Europe continued to immigrate to Bukhara to avoid persecution.

Less than 200 Bukharian Jews remain in the old mahallah. The vast majority left Bukhara for Israel and the United States following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Due to this mass exodus and the development of new building techniques, the traditional houses are now under threat of disappearance and are subject to alterations insensitive to their historical significance. The houses were included on the 2020 World Monuments Watch to encourage the documentation and creation of sustainable urban conservation standards for the adaptive reuse of the Bukharian Jewish Houses. – Description and photos by the World Monuments Fund

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