Community in Mongolia - World Jewish Congress

Mongolia

Mongolia is home to a Jewish community of Israeli citizens and expatriates who mainly live in the country temporarily. Despite this, Jews in Mongolia are well integrated into general Mongolian society and experience almost no anti-Semitism. The Jewish community in Mongolia is represented by the Jewish Community of Mongolia (Монгол Улс дахь жид үндэстэн) – the Mongolian affiliate of the World Jewish Congress.

WJC Affiliate

Монгол Улс дахь жид үндэстэн
(The Jewish Community of Mongolia)

President: Sumati Luvsandendev



History

The history of Jews in Mongolia dates back to the end of the 19th century, as trade between Siberian-Jewish merchants and Mongolians resulted in some Jewish families settling on the Mongolian side of the border. By 1920, a small Jewish community, almost entirely of Russian origin, had formed in Outer Mongolia, fleeing persecution and the violence of the Russian Civil War. The community was quite successful, and some members of the community were even elevated to Mongolian nobility. However, Russian anti-Bolshevik forces that had retreated into Mongolia after being defeated in Central Asia, deported the community from Mongolia in 1921.

It was not until four years later, in 1925, that another Jewish community would appear in Mongolia. Once again, it largely consisted of Russian Jews who had left Russia for their own safety and settled in a relatively remote region of Mongolia; this time the community was situated approximately 200 miles from the Manchurian border. Shortly after, the community settled in then-Urga (modern-day Ulaanbaatar) due to increased Soviet actions in Outer Mongolia, which soon became a Soviet satellite. Some fled to Manchuria, while those in the city, worked mainly as watchmakers, jewelers, barbers, furriers, and construction workers.

Around this period, Mongolia became a Soviet satellite state, and as a result, all religion, including Judaism, was forbidden. Many of the Jewish families became assimilated, intermarrying with the native Mongolians. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, many Jews left Mongolia to pursue better economic opportunities in countries such as Israel.

Today, there are only a few Jews living in Mongolia, mainly for business or commercial interests. Though Judaism is not officially recognized as a religion by the Mongolian government, persecution and discrimination towards Jews is almost non-existent in Mongolia. In 2003, the Mongol-Jewish Cooperation, a Jewish interest group, was formed with the hopes that it would facilitate a greater interest in Israel and Judaism in the country.

Demography

Due to the temporary nature of the status of many Jews in Mongolia, there are no official statistics regarding the number of Jews in Mongolia. The Jewish community’s official leader, Sumati Luvsandendev, states that “there are enough fingers on two hands to count all Jews who live [in Mongolia].” All Jews in Mongolia live in Ulaanbaatar, the capital.

Community Life

Due to the small size of the Jewish community in Mongolia, there is very little Jewish communal life in the country. Монгол Улс дахь жид үндэстэн (The Jewish Community of Mongolia), works as the Jewish communal organization for Jews living in Mongolia and the community is affiliated with the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress on a regional level.

Religious and Cultural life

There are no rabbis no Mongolia, and the community gathers from time to time for High-Holidays. The Chief Rabbi of the Siberian city of Irkutsk, Aharon Wagner has provided support to the Mongolian Jewish community in maintaining Jewish religious life.

Kosher food is rare in Mongolia.

Israel

Israel and Mongolia maintain full diplomatic relations, having established them in 1991. Mongolia exempts Israeli citizens from obtaining a visa in advance when visiting the country.

Israeli Honorary Consulate in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Solongo Line Company Building
Peace Avenue
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Telephone: (+976) 11 368 414
Fax: (+976) 11 368 393
Email: amar69@yandex.ruamar69@yandex.ru

Updated

August 2018

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