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Comprehensive exhibition on Bukharan Jewry - 4.1


Festive man's coat for celebrations and holidays,  Bukhara, late 19th century, courtesy of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Photographer Elie Posner"Threads of Silk, The Story of Bukharan Jewry” will open at Beit Hatfutsot on January 4, 2013. Devoted to the remarkable story of Bukharan Jewry, the exhibition tells the story of an ancient Jewish community living along the Silk Road, and reveals its outstanding economic, cultural, and spiritual achievements. Bukharan Jewry prides itself on its long and impressive history, which dates back to the exile of the Ten Tribes of Israel or, according to other sources, to Persian Jewry. This exhibition features artworks, lavish clothing, objects, embroidery, jewelry, historical and contemporary photographs, documents, and film footage that capture the customs, ceremonies, beliefs, culture, and aspirations of this rich and multifaceted community.


The term "Bukharan Jewry" pertains to the Jewish communities of Central Asia – present-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkemenistan – and derives from the name of the Emirate of Bukhara, which existed in this area from the sixteenth century to the early twentieth century. "Threads of Silk” tells the story of Bukharan Jewry from the time of its formation to the present day, when few Jews remain in this region. 


"Threads of Silk” explores the life of Bukharan Jews in two different contexts: the first is the larger Bukharan context in which their identity was consolidated, and the second is the personal context. The larger Bukharan context is represented by artifacts related to life along the Silk Road, and to the Jewish community's existence as a minority. The personal context focuses on the union between husband and wife and on the family – the most important unit in the life of this community. An important chapter of this exhibition is devoted to Bukharan Jewry's strong connection to Zion; the pilgrimages; the foundation of Jerusalem's stately Bukharan neighborhood (built in the late nineteenth century); and the massive wave of immigration to Israel following the collapse of the Iron Curtain.


This strong connection to Zion led many Bukharan Jews to immigrate to the Land of Israel in the late nineteenth century with all of their possessions, many of which are true cultural treasures. These include photographs, documents, and objects that bespeak this community's existence between East and West, and reflect a heterogeneous culture shaped by multiple artistic influences. This exhibition offers a glimpse into this rich cultural world, while revealing how many of the traditions, consolidated over the centuries, are still alive in today’s Bukharan community. 


The exhibition includes a selection of photographs by Zion Ozeri and Neil Folberg, which document the life of the Bukharan community in recent years. It also features artworks by community members, including Rima Arselanov and Arthur Ya'akobov.


The exhibition "Threads of Silk: The Story of Bukharan Jewry" is a joint initiative of Beit Hatfutsot and MK Amnon Cohen, a member of the Bukharan community.


The exhibition is accompanied by a stunning catalogue that includes color and black-and-white photographs, and articles by historians and scholars from a range of fields.


Exhibition curators and producers: Orit Engelberg Baram and Meirav Balas
Exhibition project director: Michal Houminer
Director of the Curatorial Department: Smadar Keren
Exhibition designer: Ori Glazer