Bukhara Jews Thrive in New York but Are Almost Gone in Bukhara
In an ancient Uzbekistan city, there are often too few men to hold services, but the community still carefully tends its cemetery to uphold tradition.
BUKHARA, UzbekistanThere are more than ten thousand graves here, sprawled over about 80 acres on the outskirts of the Silk Road-era old town. Most days, nobody visits. A covered mikveh pool—a ritual necessity by which Jews clean themselves after contact with the dead—is abandoned.
But the graves are immaculate.
Thousands have been renovated, most in the traditional post-Soviet style—laser-printed photorealistic depictions of the deceased, engraved in grayscale on black granite. In a country where the average wage is as low as $3 a day, the sight of these stones, which can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, is striking.
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Under the secularist Soviet Union, remembers Abraham Ishakov, cantor at the old town’s synagogue, carrying