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This puts the theory about the first Mountain Jewish communities in the Caucasus in the limelight.

They stand apart from other Jewish communities because they combined Judaism with various ethnic and cultural elements of their Caucasian neighbors.

Like elsewhere in the world, in the Caucasus Judaism lives alongside Christianity and Islam.

In fact, it is a monotheist religion, like its two Caucasian neighbors.

Historians have offered several hypotheses about their origins; according to one of them the first Jewish community in the Caucasus made up of refugees from the southwestern area of Sassanian Iran appeared in the 6th century.

This obviously rules out the Semitic roots of the Mountain Jews; it postulates instead their ethnic and genetic kinship with the Iranian Tats who embraced Judaism and who were moved to the Caucasus by Sassanian King Chosroes I Anushirva (531-579 A. According to another version, the Mountain Jews descended from the Persians who, after moving to the Caucasus, adopted Judaism under the Khazars influence.

The author looks at one of the least studied pages of Caucasian history Judaism and its spread in the region.

He has covered the main versions of why the Jews arrived in the Caucasus in the first place and describes the stable and largest communities of Caucasian Jews.

Those who support the third version insist that despite the linguistic evidence the Tats and the Mountain Jews are ethnically unrelated; they were merely driven to the Caucasus at the same time by Chosroes I Anushirva who, in the 6th century, suppressed the movement of the Mazdakids in Iran.

There is a wide range of opinions about the ancestry of the Caucasian Mountain Jews who practice Judaism. Another version supplied by the same says that the Jews appeared in the Caucasus later (during the period of the Second Temple) at more or less the same time as the emergence of the Jewish diaspora in the Crimea.

One of the versions traces their ancestry to the prisoners Assyrians herded out of Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, in 696 B. The Jewish refugees driven out of their homeland when the Second Temple was destroyed allegedly settled there alongside the Jews who had come much earlier.

It was brought by Judaic communities that had nothing to do with the Semitic Jews who came from Israel.

They belonged to peoples of non-Jewish origin who adopted Judaism for various historical reasons.

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