Community in Armenia - World Jewish Congress

According to estimates from the local Jewish community, Armenia has approximately 500 to 1000 Jews, the majority of whom are Ashkenazi, with some Mizrahi and Georgian Jews residing in the capital, Yerevan. Armenia, a country with a diverse ethnic population, has a long history of Jewish influence. Today, the small Armenian Jewish community can freely practice Judaism, despite several incidents of antisemitism.

The Jewish community in Armenia is represented by the Jewish Community of Armenia – the Armenian affiliate of the World Jewish Congress.

WJC Affiliate
The Jewish Community of Armenia

+374 10 534 854
+374 10 534 924

Chairwoman: Rimma Varzhepetyan

Historical records attest to a Jewish presence in Armenia dating back to before the spread of Christianity in the region. Some historians claim that King Tigranes the Great brought 10,000 Jewish captives with him to the ancient Kingdom of Armenia, following a retreat from Judea due to a Roman attack on Armenia.  

A large Jewish population was settled in Armenia from the first century BCE, thus establishing a permanent Jewish community there. During this period, numerous regional powers attempted to divide and conquer the country, and as a result, the Jewish population (and the general Armenian population as well) suffered the consequences of invasions, occupations, and reconquests. By the third century CE, there was a huge increase in Jewish immigration from the Hellenistic region. As a result, some Armenian towns became largely Jewish. 

The conquest of Armenia by the Sassanids under King Shapur II in the following century saw the deportations of Jews. Thousands of Jewish families were deported to areas throughout the region, including Esfahan (modern Iran), Artashat, Vaghasabat, Yervandashat, Sarehavan, Sarisat, Van, and Nakhichevan.

The return of substantial Jewish communities in Armenia coincided with the Russian annexation of eastern Armenia following the Russo-Persian War in 1828 when Russian Jews began arriving in Armenia. They established communities throughout the latter half of the 19th century.

The dissolution of the Soviet Union in the 1990s saw widespread violence engulf the region, and as a result, many Armenian Jews left the region. Today’s Armenian Jewish population is almost entirely comprised of Ashkenazi Jews who came to Armenia during the Soviet period.  

The Years of the Holocaust

Under Soviet rule, Armenia participated on the side of the Allies during World War II. The country was spared the devastation and destruction that wrought most of the western Soviet Union during the War, and many displaced Jews found refuge in Soviet Armenia during the Holocaust. Following World War II, the population rose to approximately 5,000 Jews. This continued throughout most of the Soviet era, with many Russian and Ukrainian Jews settling in Armenia as a result of its more accepting society (in comparison to Soviet Russia and Ukraine).


The Jewish Community of Armenia estimates that there are roughly 500 Jews in Armenia, nearly all of whom live in Yerevan, the capital. There is also a small group of Armenian Jews who live in Vanadzor. The Armenian Jewish community can practice their religion freely, and despite some manifestations of antisemitism, live in relative stability.

One notable Armenian Jew is Levon Aronian, the chess grandmaster who received the Order of St. Mesrop Mashtots in 2012, and who openly espouses his Jewish background.

Community Life

Despite the small size of Armenian Jewry, the Armenian Jewish community remains organized and active. The Jewish Community of Armenia (JCA) acts as the main representative communal organization in the country, working to ensure that the religious needs of the community are met, and that Armenian Jewry is represented on a national and international level.

The JCA provides a myriad of services for the Jewish community in Armenia that go beyond religious needs and representational matters. It is also engaged in several charitable and cultural activities. 

In 2013, a team of Jewish Armenian athletes took part in the Maccabiah Games for the first time.

Religious and Cultural Life

Jewish religious life in Armenia is almost entirely concentrated in Yerevan, where the country’s only synagogue operates. Rabbi Gersh Meir Burshtein acts as the Chief Rabbi of Armenia.

Kosher Food
Jewish Education

Despite the small size of the Jewish community, there are opportunities for Jewish education in the Armenia. This is largely done through the auspices of the JCA, which offers a Sunday School and a children’s vocal ensemble called “Keshet.”

There is an Israeli Cultural Center. The community also has an Ulpan, which offers free Hebrew lessons for all members of the community.


There are various Armenian Jewish youth organizations conducted by the Jewish Community of Armenia. Opportunities through various agencies in Israel, including programs with the Jewish Agency for Israel or Maccabi, are also available to young Jews in Armenia.

Jewish Media

The Jewish community in Armenia has published a newspaper, “Magen David,” since 2002.

Information for Visitors

Despite the small size, and historically scattered nature, of the Jewish community in Armenia, there are a number Jewish sites of interest. This includes a recently restored (with financing from the Government of the Republic of Armenia) Jewish medieval cemetery in the village of Yeghegis.  

A memorial dedicated to the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide sits in the center of Yerevan, with a ceremony held there every year to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide.

Relations with Israel

Israel and Armenia have maintained diplomatic ties since the latter’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, but relations have been complicated by the Israeli government not recognizing the Armenian massacres of 1915 as genocide. In September 2019, Armenia announced that it would be opening an embassy in Israel. Relations soured after Armenia withdrew its ambassador to Israel due to Israel's supplication of weapons to Armenia's enemy, Azerbaijan, in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War. In December 2021, the Ambassador to Brazil, Arman Hakobyan, was reallocated as the Ambassador of Armenia to Israel.

Israeli Consulate in Armenia
47 Komitas Ave. 0051

Telephone: (+374 10) 249916

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