Ashkenazi jews in Azerbaijan: on some problems of ethnic identity in a foreign ethnic environment

  • Aygun Nazaraliyeva nstitute of archeology and ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan
Keywords: Ashkenazi Jews, Azerbaijan, ethnos, ethnic identity, anti-Semitism, cultural traditions, Judaism


The article established that the formation and becoming of the ethnic identity of the ashkenazi jews of Azerbaijan is influenced by a number of traditional factors, in particular, family, upbringing and cultural traditions. In particular, the special role of traditions in the formation of ethnic identity among jews is associated with the essential role of judaism in this process. The article also notes that one of the most important elements of ethnic culture and the sustainability of ethnic identity is the mother tongue. The mother tongue of ashkenazi jews is yiddish. It is established that at present the functional significance of yiddish has significantly decreased. The almost complete oblivion of yiddish and the transition of the vast majority of ashkenazi jews of Azerbaijan to the russian language created favorable conditions for the transition of this community to hebrew. In addition to the desire to revive historical memory, the revival of traditional culture and religion, the strengthening of the dominant position of hebrew among ashkenazi jews was also associated with an increase in migration sentiments, the desire of many of them to leave for their historical homeland in Israel. The desire to study hebrew, characteristic of many ashkenazi in Azerbaijan, especially middle and young age, does not mean that this language has become functionally significant for intra-community and everyday communication. For these purposes, the russian language continues to be widely used. For example, while an older generation of ashkenazi jews owned yiddish, the middle generation speaks mainly russian, and the relatively young generation already speaks three languages – azerbaijani, russian and hebrew. In the article, summing up some results of the study of ethnic identity among ashkenazi jews of Azerbaijan, it is stated that, despite the unspoken, and sometimes vowed anti-semitism of the rulers of tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union, ashkenazi jews of Azerbaijan have largely preserved their ethnic identity, traditional holidays and rituals. Moreover, the activity of various jewish schools in Azerbaijan, the education of jewish children in hebrew determines the stability of ethnic identity among various age groups of the jewish population. The stability of the ethnic identity of ashkenazi jews in Azerbaijan is also influenced by such traditional factors as family, upbringing and cultural traditions. It is likely that this is due to the fact that for most jews, following the customs and traditions in everyday life is an important element of the national mentality. Moreover, judaism plays a major role in maintaining ethnic identity among ashkenazi jews.


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How to Cite
Nazaraliyeva, A. (2020). Ashkenazi jews in Azerbaijan: on some problems of ethnic identity in a foreign ethnic environment. Scientific and Theoretical Almanac Grani, 23(4), 66-74.