Community in Turkmenistan - World Jewish Congress

Turkmenistan

Currently there are an estimated 1000 Jews (source: eajc.org) residing in Ashkhabad, Mary, Dashoguz (formerly Tashauz), Turkmenbashi (formerly Krasnovodsk), Balkanabat (formerly Nebit Dag), Turkmenabat (formerly Chardzhou), and Kerki. These are predominantly Ashkenazi Jews. The descendants of Afghani Jews who used to reside in Yoloten and Bairam Ali have now all left the country. A few Bukharian Jews live in the eastern part of the country. There is no WJC affiliate in Turkmenistan.


History and Demography

The majority of the Jews are Ashkenazim who arrived in the area during the Soviet period. Some 20% are Iranian Jews with deeper roots in Turkmenistan. The largest community is in Askhabad with 800 Jews. The other Jews are divided between Chardzhou and Mary. There are no synagogues or rabbis and no other communal life.

Communal and Religious Life

The Jewish community has no formal status. There are no functioning synagogues or rabbis, and there is no other communal life. The JAFI has been active in promoting Jewish identity and in assisting those Jews who wish to leave for Israel.

Israel

Israel and Turkmenistan have full diplomatic relations. Israel is represented by its ambassador in Moscow. Aliya: Since 1989, 1,050 Turkmeni Jews have emigrated to Israel.

Kosher Food

 

For up to date information on Kosher restaurants and locations please see the Shamash Kosher Database

History

Most of the Jews are Ashkenazim who arrived in the area during the Soviet period. Some 20% are Iranian Jews with deeper roots in Turkmenistan.

 

Community Life

The largest community is in Ashkhabad with 800 Jews. The other Jews are divided between Chardzhou and Mary. There are no synagogues or rabbis and no other communal life.

There is no organized Jewish community or rabbi in Turkmenistan. The Soviets effectively suppressed all Jewish culture in the country and, unlike the other states of the former Soviet Union, Turkmenistan's community never recovered. The Ashkhabad synagogue, the only one in the country, was converted into a gymnasium by the Soviets and no other formal congregations exist. The Turkmen Jews have no semblance of a community and the majority are non-practicing and do not usually disclose their religious origin due to severe religious persecution.

Turkmenistan has become increasingly Islamized since independence, and non-Muslims face discrimination on a day-to-day basis.

Updated

 

April 2018

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