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

Abstract

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.

References

Bekker, M. (2000). Evrei Azerbajdzhana: Istorija i sovremennost' [Jews of Azerbaijan: History and Present]. Baku: CBS [in Russian].

Buber, M. (1992). Evrej v mire. Rech' v Evrejskom uchebnom centre vo Frankfurte-na-Majne [Jew in the world. Speech at the Jewish Training Center in Frankfurt]. Sionizm v kontekste istorii. Hrestomatija po istorii sionizma – Zionism in the context of history. A reader on the history of Zionism. A. Hercberg (Ed.). Biblioteka Alija. Retrieved from https://www.gumer.info/bogoslov_Buks/Iudaizm/Article/Buber_Evrei.php [in Russian].

Vajnshtejn, S., & Zahar'jaev, G. (2014). Evrejskaja obshhina Azerbajdzhana v sovremennuju jepohu [The Jewish community of Azerbaijan in the modern era]. Evrei Kavkaza, Gruzii i Central'noj Azii: Issledovanija po istorii, sociologii i kul'ture – Jews of the Caucasus, Georgia and Central Asia: Studies in History, Sociology and Culture. Ahiezer G., Jenoh R., Vajnshtejn (Eds.). (pp. 126–139). Arijel' [in Russian].

Gitel'man, C., Chervjakov, V. D., & Shapiro, V. Nacional'noe samosoznanie rossijskih evreev [National identity of Russian Jews]. Retrieved from http://www.civisbook.ru/files/File/Sjapiro_naz_sam.pdf [in Russian].

Gitel'man, C. (2008). Bespokojnyj vek. Evrei Rossii i Sovetskogo Sojuza s 1881 g. do nashih dnej [Restless century. Jews of Russia and the Soviet Union from 1881 to the present day]. Moskva: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie [in Russian].

Kon, I. S. (1988). Rebjonok i obshhestvo [Child and society]. Moskva: Nauka [in Russian].

Konstantinov, V. (2007). Evrejskoe naselenie byvshego SSSR v XX veke [The Jewish population of the former USSR

in the XX century]. Ierusalim: LIRA [in Russian].

Militarjov, A. Ju. (2002). Identichnost' i sud'by evrejskoj diaspory v Rossii [The identity and fate of the Jewish diaspora in Russia]. Diaspory – Diasporas, 4, 138–152. Moskva [in Russian].

Nosenko-Shtejn, E. Je. Osnovnye napravlenija izuchenija evrejskoj identichnosti v Rossii i za rubezhom [The main directions of the study of Jewish identity in Russia and abroad]. Retrieved from http://berkovich-zametki.com/AStarina/Nomer13/Nosenko1.htm [in Russian]

Nosenko-Shtejn, E. Je. (2005). Formirovanie jetnicheskoj samoidentifikacii u potomkov russko-evrejskih brakov sovremennoj Rossii [Formation of ethnic self-identification among the descendants of Russian-Jewish marriages of modern Russia]. Extended abstract of Doctor’s thesis. Moskva [in Russian].

Osovcev, A. A., & Jakovenko, I. Ja. (2011). Evrejskij narod v Rossii: kto, kak i zachem k nemu prinadlezhit

[The Jewish people in Russia: who, how and why belongs to it]. Moskva: Dom evrejskoj knigi [in Russian].

Pievskij, M. (2005). Idish – germanskij jazyk, no takzhe i evrejskij [Yiddish – Germanic, but also Hebrew]. Dordmund: Partner, 10 (97). Retrieved from https://www.partner-inform.de/partner/detail/2005/10/235/1918/idish-germanskij-jazyk-no-takzhe-i-evrejskij?lang=ru [in Russian].

Jelektronnaja evrejskaja jenciklopedija [Electronic Jewish Encyclopedia]. Retrieved from https://eleven.co.il/jewish-languages/yiddish/11686/ [in Russian].

Altshuler, M. (1998). Soviet Jewry on the Eve of the Holocaust: A Social and Demographic Profile. Jerusalem: Yad Vashem [in English].

Altshuler, M. (1987). Soviet Jewry since the Second World War: Population and Social Structure. New York: Praeger [in English].

Goldstein, S., & Goldstein, A. (1996). Jews on the Move. Albany: State University of New York Press [in English].

Iukhneva, N. (1989). Urgent Issues of Inter-Ethnic Relations in Leningrad. On the Growth of Aggressive-Chauvinistic and anti-Semitic Attitudes in Contemporary Russian Society. Jews and the Jewish Topics in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe (еd. by Dymerskaya-Tsigelman L. аnd Cohen Y.). No. 1 (18). Jerusalem: The Hebrew University, Centre for Research and Documentation of East European Jewry [in English].

Klein, E. (1996). Lost Jews. The Struggle for Identity Today. London: McMillan Press [in English].

Liebman, Ch. S. (1973). The Ambivalent American Jew. Politics, Religion and Family in American Jewish Life. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America [in English].

Rosen, E. J., & Weltman, S. F. (1996). Jewish Families: An Overview. Ethnicity and Family Therapy. (pp. 611–630). New York: Cuilford Press [in English].

Published
2020-07-05
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. https://doi.org/10.15421/172042
Section
POLITICAL SCIENCE