THE MOUNTAIN JEWS IN THE CAUCASUS: CERTAIN ASPECTS OF ETHNIC IDENTIFICATION

Igor SEMENOV


Igor Semenov, Ph.D. (Hist.), researcher, Institute of History, Archaeology, and Ethnography, Daghestanian Scientific Center, Russian Academy of Sciences (Makhachkala, Russia)


The Mountain Jews formed an individual sub-ethnic group in the Eastern Caucasus (on the territories of Daghestan and Azerbaijan). They use the so-called Jewish-Tat language, based on a Middle Persian dialect, that includes a vast body of lexical borrowings from the Aramaic and Hebrew together with elements of the contemporary Azerbaijanian, Kumyk, and other languages.

Ethnoculturally, the Mountain Jews belong to the Iranian Jewry with which they had been maintaining close ties even before the Eastern Caucasus became part of Russia in the early 19th century. These ties are linguistically confirmed by their knowledge of the Zeboni imrani, the language common to all Iranian Jews who spoke different dialects within their ethnic groups. In the 18th-19th centuries a great number of Iranian Jews, mainly from Gilyan, moved to the Eastern Caucasus where they were integrated into different ethnic groups of Mountain Jews.

There is a host of ideas about these ethnic groups originssome of them very exotic. Without going into details I would like to present here my own hypothesis: the Jewish substratum that served the core of the Mountain Jew sub-ethnic group appeared in the 6th century when the Sassanid ruler Chosroes (Khosrow) I Anushirvan (531-579) moved the Mazdakite Jews from Babylonia to the Eastern Caucasus. Later the group was increasing as migrants from Iran, mainly from Gilyan, from Georgia and Eastern Europe joined them.

The first compact settlements of Mountain Jews appeared in Russian fortresses being built everywhere in the Northern Caucasus during the Caucasian War of the mid-19th century. Gradually their number in the Northern Caucasus increased to reach, by the 1980s, the numbers comparable with the Jewish population of Daghestan and Azerbaijan. By the end of Gorbachevs perestroika in the Soviet Union (1985-1991) the absolute majority of Mountain Jews was living in these three zones, although by that time a considerable number of Mountain Jews had already settled in Moscow and Leningrad. Toward the end of perestroika and immediately after it more than half of Mountain Jews left for Israel, the United States, Canada, and Germany. They were driven away mainly by a criminal wave in the Caucasian republics of the Russian Federation. Today, Mountain Jews are mainly concentrated in Moscow, St. Petersburg and the so-called Caucasian Mineral Waters zone (Piatigorsk, Essentuki, Mineralnye Vody, etc.). There are still two thousand Mountain Jews living in Daghestan. It should be said that their total numbers are overestimated: it claimed to be between 100 and 150 thou. In fact, there are about 60 to 70 thou of them.1

This is the most general information about the Mountain Jews. Mikhail Chlenov has done a lot to ethnically identify them. This article refers to many of his works and polemizes on certain issues with this brilliant scholar. It was Chlenov who offered a paradigm of Jewish civilization, or quasi-civilization,2 which makes it possible to describe the Jewish sub-ethnic groups as larger or smaller parts of the single wholethe Jewish people (Jewish civilization, or quasi-civilization, to borrow the term from Chlenov). The following proposition is of signal importance for this article: each of the Jewish sub-ethnic groups has a set of ideas rooted in their distant past about what it takes to be a Jew. Chlenov calls these sets by a Hebrew term edah and points out that every sub-ethnic group has an edah of its own while a contact between two different edahs causes mutual misunderstanding between two groups and may even lead to mutual dislike at the early stages of contacts. Eventually the differences disappear. Below I shall discuss specific features of contacts between the edah of the Mountain Jews with edahs of other Jewish sub-ethnic groups.

Main Criteria of Traditional Ethnic Identification

The Mountain Jews can be regarded as a homogeneous sub-ethnic group the identification of which is based on the following elements: a common ethnic nameĵuhur3 (plural: ĵuhuru(n) or ĵuhurho); a common languageĵuhuri; a common religionJudaism, as well as many common features in religious rites and religious ideas. These identification criteriathe elements of the edah of Mountain Jewshelped the Jews scattered across the Caucasus from Shirvan to Kabarda to recognize their kinship in the 19th and 20th centuries. Despite certain cultural distinctions, Jewish ethnic groups were always prepared to recognize their kinship; marriages with members of other Jewish sub-ethnic groups (Ashkenazim, Georgian, and Central Asian Jews) were rare. Until the last decades of the 20th century marriages with people of other religions were equally rare. The greater part of mixed marriages was with Ashkenazim. On the whole, the Mountain Jews displayed obvious endogamy. There is another identification criterion: their Caucasian neighbors look at them precisely as Jews.

It was the Russian military administration that coined the term Mountain Jews in the 19th century to distinguish between the East Caucasian and European Jews, while the Russian administrators applied the term mountaineer to all Caucasian peoples without discrimination and irrespective of the zones of their traditional settlement. At that time the expression Mountain Jews began to be used in the ethnographic literature and has been an official name of this people for a long time under the Soviet power.

Any sub-ethnic group of Jews at all times has displayed dual self-awareness: on the one hand, they look at themselves as vehicles and, in certain cases, creators of a specific national (state) culture of the country they live in. On the other, they do not completely belong to it being Jews with Jewish roots going deep into the historical and cultural traditions and belonging to a religion that differs from the local confessions.

When analyzing the ties described by the us-them formula one can easily discover that the Mountain Jews while relating themselves to the world of Caucasian culture are still aware of their Jewish roots and confession, that is, of being different from the Caucasian peoples. At the same time, all differences in the mentality of the Mountain Jews and their Caucasian neighbors notwithstanding they have many things in common. This unites them in the face of other, non-Caucasian cultures. For example, when comparing the Caucasian and Russian cultural traditions the Mountain Jews invariably prefer the former; the same applies to other comparisons of this sort. The fact that Mountain Jews have been actively drawn into Russian culture and Russian education since the turn of the 20th century while during Soviet times they received higher education in cities with predominant Russian population did not affect their perception of the Russian ethnocultural complex.

The Mountain Jews refer themselves to the Caucasian world, and the Caucasian peoples among whom they live do the same. The Caucasian peoples place them apart from the Ashkenazim and in all cases prefer Mountain Jews whose mentality is closer to their own and who respect their traditions. They share many customs and, though the Mountain Jews belong to a different confession, the autochthonous peoples look at them as one of the Caucasian peoples. In the Caucasus the local people speak about the Ashkenazim as Russian Jews and about the Mountain Jews as ours thus emphasizing that they belong to the Caucasus.

The above should not be taken to mean that anti-Semitism is alien to the Caucasus. It is interesting to note that there the Ashkenazim are perceived positively rather than negatively, which is explained by the fact that the local people look at them as representatives of Russian culture who made a great contribution to the development of local education, health service, etc. On the other hand, the Caucasian people are inclined to look at them as intellectually superior, which breeds envy and anti-Semitism (in various forms). In the eyes of their Caucasian neighbors the Mountain Jews have no intellectual superiority but rather possess numerous faults and negative features. A deeper investigation reveals that the same (or slightly different) set of negative features is ascribed to all local peoples (except ones own). In other words, the Mountain Jews are treated exactly in the same way as all other local peoples. This is not anti-Semitism but a form of ethnocentrism typical of polyethnic regions. One should bear in mind, however, that nationalism in the Caucasus is not an aim but rather a means of achieving this aim, and that nationalism exists side by side with much stronger traditions of ethnic coexistence.

The Mountain Jews and Ashkenazim

In the last decades of the 20th century Mountain Jews were moving out of the Caucasus in great numbers, yet they did not abandon certain traditions and preserved many traits of Caucasian mentality. They remain people from the Caucasus in Moscow, Beersheba or in any other city and country. This happens not only because they have preserved their ethnic self-awareness but also because everywhere everybody, Ashkenazim included, look at them as people from the Caucasus.

Close contacts between Mountain Jews and Ashkenazim were established soon after the Caucasian War. In the 1870s there was a great number of Ashkenazim living in Daghestan: in Temir-Khan-Shura (now Buinaksk), Derbent, and later in Petrovsk (Makhachkala), as well as in Vladikavkaz, Grozny, Nalchik, Baku and other cities. It seems that from the very beginning the two sub-ethnic groups had been treating one another with dislike of which I. Anisimov wrote in his time. In Baku, Derbent, Temir-Khan-Shura, Vladikavkaz and other cities the Ashkenazim deemed it necessary to build their own synagogues, though there were synagogues used by the Mountain Jews. This cannot be explained by purely religious differences. I believe that the mutual desire to live separately was prompted by the difference in their mentalities and their ideas of what it meant to be a Jew. Mutual lack of understanding has been going on for a century and a half while many differences in their edahs disappeared, others are disappearing, and few of them are still living.

The Process of Tat-ization of Mountain Jews in the Soviet Union

Starting with the 1930s Soviet propaganda was imposing the Tat ethnonym on the Mountain Jews of Daghestan and the Northern Caucasus. The pressure increased in the 1970s. Part of the local Jews succumbed. In the late 1970s and early 1980s many of them described themselves as Tats, not as a Mountain Jew or a Jew in all sorts of forms. As a result the new term was taken for the Mountain Jews self-identification name and their identification by other peoples was distorted.

The word Tat is a blanket Turkic term applied to subjugated settled peoples, mainly Iranians, and carries not so much an ethnic as a social meaning.4 This term is used precisely in this meaning in Central Asia, the Crimea, northwestern Iran and the Eastern Caucasus.

Azeris who are Turks applied the term to the Iranians of the Eastern Caucasus whose ancestors had been moved away from Iran in the 6th century and later. They used to live in compact groups between Apsheron in the south and Derbent in the north. Early in the 20th century there were several hundreds of thousands of them.5 They based their self-identity on their confessionseither Muslim or Christian. They never called themselves Tats because the term sounded derogative to them and described their language as Parsi, Porsi or Forsi.6 The term the Tat language was first used in the 19th century by students of the Caucasus Boris Dorn, Nikolai Berezin, Vsevolod Miller, and others.

In the first decades of the 20th century there were still Tat villages in what today is Azerbaijan. Those who lived there were Christians and called themselves Ermenis (Armenians).7 Later, nearly all of them moved to Daghestan and the Stavropol Territory. It was late in the 19th century that the Turkization of the Tats started.8 Today, the process has been nearly completed while the descendants of the Tats living in Azerbaijan and Daghestan have nearly forgotten their native Persian tongue and are using the Azerbaijanian. They describe themselves as Azeris.

In the 1920s, B. Miller formulated an idea of a single Tat ethnos divided by three religions: Islam, Judaism and Christianity.9 The theory was absolutely unfounded and was very much in line with the atheism of the Bolsheviks who looked at religions as a factor that did not allow the proletarians of all countries to unite. The fact that neither the Mountain Jews, nor the Muslim Tats, nor the Christian Tats ever called themselves Tats was ignored by the scholars of the epoch. The physical-anthropological features of which B. Miller was aware contradicted his idea about the ethnic kinship of the Mountain Jews and the Tats of the Caucasus. Thus, his idea was not only scientifically inconsistent but it also contradicted the well-known facts. This explains why today it is known as the Tat myth.

Philologist N. Anisimov accepted the idea about the single religiously divided Tat ethnos.10 He was not alone: the theory was willingly embraced by Bolshevik leaders from among the Mountain Jews. On their initiative a congress of Mountain Jews held in Moscow in 1927 adopted a declaration that registered the term Tat as one of their self-names.

Later the myth was promoted along the same lines: pseudo-scientific rhetoric was passed for scholarly substantiation. Quite often certain authors indulged in wishful thinking and presented their inventions as axioms. For example, one of the works by L. Avshalumova says: Ethnographic studies convincingly demonstrated that the Judaic and Muslim Tats shared their language, traditions, material and spiritual culture11 At the same time, there were no efforts to compare the cultures of Mountain Jews and the Caucasian Tats. As for linguistic comparisons, they were made by A. Griunberg (see: The Tat Language, in: Osnovy iranskogo iazykoznania: Novoiranskie iazyki: zapadnaia gruppa, prikaspiiskie iazyki, Nauka Publishers, Moscow, 1982). The work written under huge pressure of the Tat public opinion (Kh. Avshalumov, M. Matatov, and others) compared two languages within the Tat myth as dialects of the Tat languagesthe southern (of Muslim Tats) and the northern (of Judaic Tats).

Later E. Nazarova, so far the only researcher of the Jewish Tat language, has confronted the idea that the Jewish Tat language was a Tat dialect with several serious arguments and concluded that they were two different tongues.12

Why did then the alien ethnonym become accepted, though not immediately, by the Mountain Jews? Why did their leaders show such zeal when imposing this name on their people?

One should bear in mind that the idea of the Tat origins of the Mountain Jews (absolutely erroneous from all points of view) was promoted by people with higher education. I. Anisimov was the first of themhe created the Tat myth or, rather, outlined its key propositions. The name of the inventor of the myth is not that importantthe myth would have been created sooner or later. Anyway, his theses were developed by those who sided with the idea.

Until the 1950s there were few college graduates among the Mountain Jews but it was precisely they who enthusiastically accepted the myth and proliferated it among their people. It was this layer that produced Tat writers, poets, etc. who were consistently imposing the myth on their less educated compatriots. Until the early 1970s the majority of the Mountain Jews treated the myth as an invention of the highbrows and a certain misunderstanding not to be discussed in informal situations. Therefore the Mountain Jews and their neighbors continued calling the Jewish Tat language (ĵuhuri) Jewish in Russian while the self-name of the Mountain Jews (ĵuhur) was translated as Jew into Russian. In this way, before the 1970s when the Jews of the Soviet Union were allowed to emigrate to Israel (though not without problems) the Tat myth had been treated as a sort of a toy of the Tat writers and communist functionaries. In that period the level of education among the Mountain Jews was rapidly rising. Together with it the number of those who supported the notorious myth was also increasing. This process coincided with the beginning of Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union and with an active anti-Israeli campaign in the Soviet press (1967). It was at that time that the Tat nationality was actively imposed on the Mountain Jews of Daghestan and other North Caucasian republics. Everywhere people were explained that they were Tats, not Jews. This implied that they should not emigrate to Israel. In the context even a formal acceptance or rejection of the myth was a sort of a loyalty test.13 This spread hypocrisy (I know that I am a Jew but since the authorities want me to be a Tat I can agree with them) that was typical of many spheres of Soviet life.

The propaganda campaign instigated by the authorities was carried out by Mountain Jews themselvesthe Tat writers, poets and C.P.S.U. functionaries. Nearly all newspaper articles on the subject appeared in the 1970s. It was a period of numerous meetings of the Tat public at which people were forced to speak against the Israeli aggressors. The media and meetings had to discuss the Tat ethnonym in a very clumsy and importune way. From that time on the problem has acquired special importance for the Mountain Jews. This all happened mainly in Daghestan; in Azerbaijan from where the Mountain Jews were not allowed to emigrate to Israel there was practically no talk about the ethnonym. In addition, it was not wise to raise the issue in a union republic where there were several hundreds of thousands of Turkicized Caucasian Tats.

In Daghestan the Mountain Jews formed two camps: that of the Tats and that of Jews commonly known as the Zionists. The latter was made up mainly of less educated people and only a small number of college graduates. They regarded the efforts to impose the Tat ethnonym on them as official anti-Semitism. The Tat group included nearly all Mountain Jew writers, poets, C.P.S.U. functionaries, directors of industrial enterprises, teachers, etc. The majority treated the dispute with indifference, yet later over a half of the local Mountain Jews accepted the new name. This happened after the articles by M. Matatov and writer Kh. Avshalumov had appeared in Dagestanskaia pravda.14 The authors openly divided the people into ours (Tats and hence Soviet citizens) and not ours.15 These articles appeared during a campaign of changing Soviet passports that started in 1977 and created the best possible conditions to turn all Mountain Jews into Tats: by the beginning of perestroika the majority of them had been registered as Tats.

In this way four factors coincided in time: a possibility (mainly theoretical) of emigration; Israels victories in the wars of 1967 and 1973 and the anti-Israeli campaign in the Soviet press that went together with them; stepped up campaign to impose the Tat ethnonym on the Mountain Jews; changing Soviet passports in the late 1970s. This coincidence negatively influenced the identity of the Mountain Jews.

The fact that a Jewish state existed and scored military victories over its neighbors greatly affected the Mountain Jews identity, though they became divided into those who were against the Zionist aggressors and those who supported Israel. The latter were in the majority because even the Tats spoke with pride about the military successes of their historical homeland.

I have already written that the Tat myth remained theoretically unfounded while its appearance was nothing but a misunderstanding that later collected a lot of political overtones: those of the Mountain Jews who in Soviet times tried to pass their people as one of the Daghestanian ethnic groups wanted to stop their emigration to Israel. In fact, the same could have been done without distorting the key elements of ethnic identity and without imposing an invented self-name on the people.

Mikhail Chlenov believes that the fairly successful process of Tat-ization of the Mountain Jews was rooted in the sad experience of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. Nazis exterminated nearly all Mountain Jews in the Northern Caucasus (the villages of Bogdanovka and Menzhinsk) and in the Crimea (the Shaumian collective farm). Those who lived in Nalchik avoided death because the local people presented them as Tats.16

To my mind, this is not correct: massive Tat-ization was not launched immediately after the war but in the late 1960s and reached its peak in the late 1970s and early 1980s. This shows that the tragic wartime events should not be connected with massive change of the ethnic name.

Chlenov is quite right, however, when he says that this process can be interpreted as an attempt to dissociate from the Ashkenazim and Jews in general and that this was typical of other groups of eastern Jews in the Soviet Union. He believes that this attempt was caused by the fear of Ashkenazi influence and was regarded as a protective measure designed to preserve the archaic adat and in this way the religion, language, and everyday culture.17

This can be discussed but Chlenov is quite right when he says that the acceptance of the Tat myth by the Mountain Jews was, to a certain extent, promoted by their closeness to Ashkenazim. The Mountain Jews were afraid of their influence and did not wish to be assimilated by them. Here is another important point: communication with the Ashkenazim developed an inferiority complex in the Mountain Jews. I do not mean that inferiority was bred by the Ashkenazims higher educational level, though this was partly true. The complex was born by their obvious Jewishness confirmed by facts from recent history. First, in the Russian Empire it was the Ashkenazim who were discriminated against; in the Soviet Union anti-Semitism was directed mainly against the same group; Nazis purposefully exterminated Ashkenazim as genuine Jews, etc.

In the mid-19th century when the Mountain Jews and Ashkenazim first came into contact the complex could not develop because the former did not look at the latter as Jews. Indeed, Ashkenazim dressed like Europeans, ate non-kosher food, did not attend religious ceremonies, etc. At that time, those of the Ashkenazim who came to the Caucasus had secular education and were not particularly religious.18

However, as the growing number of Mountain Jews was receiving secular education (I. Anisimov was one of the first among them) and was moving away from religion and the traditional norms, their attitude to the Ashkenazi Jewishness was gradually changing. Well-educated Mountain Jews could no longer reproach Ashkenazim for their lack of religious fervor because they themselves were no longer religious: Soviet society treated religious fervor as a sign of backwardness. In this context the main elements of the us-them changed radically: while the poorly educated yet deeply religious Mountain Jew continued to look at himself as a true Jew as opposed to an Ashkenazi, a well educated Mountain Jew looked at an Ashkenazi and not himself as a real Jew. Indeed, the educated layer of the Mountain Jews was becoming increasingly aware of Jewishness of the Ashkenazim. Against this background, the Jewishness of the Mountain Jews looked doubtful. The formula Ashkenazim are true Jews became an absolute rule while the derived conclusion we do not look like them (neither linguistically, nor anthropologically, while the ethnonyms were also different, etc.) led to the final judgment: We are not Jews! This created the core of the inferiority complex: the Jewishness of the Ashkenazim disproved the Jewishness of the Mountain Jews. From this it followed: If we are not Jews, then who are we? We are obviously Tats!

I. Anisimov followed this line of reasoning in his writings.19 He was the first to formulate the Tat hypothesis. When comparing the Ashkenazim and the Mountain Jews, he regarded the features of the formers ethnocultural type as a standard and pointed out that the Mountain Jews obviously did not fit it: Ashkenazim were mainly well educated, they were familiar with the rabbinic (Talmudic) tradition while the share of those who could read and write among the Mountain Jews was low; their rabbis, according to Anisimov, knew next to nothing about the Talmud while the Mountain Jews became introduced to the Talmud thanks to Ashkenazim.20

In fact, those who accepted (or pretended to accept) the Tat myth were guided not only by the inferiority complex and the fear of Ashkenazi influence but also the desire to protect their people against anti-Semitism. There was a great deal of hypocrisy in this: We are Jews but we should better call ourselves differently.

This shows that the process of Tat-ization was rooted in the abandonment of religion that corroded the Mountain Jews traditional identity, and psychological discomfort caused by their association with Ashkenazim. Because of this many fairly educated Mountain Jews who more than the others imbibed certain specific features of the culture and rules of conduct of Ashkenazim preferred to dissociate themselves from those who represented this culture to the extent that they did not want the same ethnic name. Since in the Russian language the term Jew is mainly associated with the Ashkenazim, parts of the Mountain Jews tried to drop their ethnic name even though it was somewhat diluted with the term mountaineer. It should be added here that not all members of the intellectual elite of the Mountain Jews felt like that but only those who participated in the process of Tat-ization. On the whole, a large number of the Mountain Jews treats the Ashkenazim with sympathy and looks at them as part of a single Jewish people.

I have already written that the process of Tat-ization owed much of its success to official support. In Daghestan, for example, those of the Mountain Jews who wanted to climb high were expected to be C.P.S.U. members and be registered as Tats. (There were practically no exceptions.) This created conformism: I am a Jew, but since the authorities want me to be a Tat I can call myself Tat.

The campaign was mainly aimed at preventing massive emigration from the country. The authorities failed but the myth not only distorted the Mountain Jews ethnic self-awareness but also taught them hypocrisy.

It was also gradually undermining the Mountain Jews traditional ethnic self-awareness: at first the formulas ĵuhur-a Jew and ĵuhur-a Tat were seen as identical. By the late 20th century the new generation was prepared to drop the first of the two formulas. They started thinking differently: We call ourselves Tats, other peoples also call us Tats, therefore we are obviously not Jews but Tats. Other peoples stopped calling the Mountain Jews by their old name on the ground that if they call themselves Tats and if the local press uses the same name, therefore they are probably Tats. This created chaos in the minds of Mountain Jews themselves and their neighbors.

M.-R.A. Ibragimov believes that the process of Tat-ization caused ethnic re-orientation or change of identity.21 This is not completely correct: the larger part of Mountain Jews is now living in Israel where the results of Tat-ization are not obvious.22 There is a fairly large group of Mountain Jews from Azerbaijan who has settled in Moscowthey, too, remained unaffected by Tat-ization. There is another numerous group (from 10 to 20 thou) who stayed behind in Azerbaijan.

There are less than two thou Mountain Jews in Daghestan where the myth originated in the first place. Thanks to the efforts of Prof. L. Avshalumova, who represents the Tats in the republics State Council, the myth is still alive. For example, the republican newspaper in the Tat language never uses the term Jew or even the original self-name ĵuhur. Other republican mass media regularly discuss the Tat issue. M.R. Kurbanov, Editor of the Narody Dagestana magazine, who published several articles on the problem that reflected different opinions (No. 1, 2002) is still feeling the pressure of the Tat public. The local press says that the authors play into the hands of the geopolitical opponents of Russia and Daghestan, that they fail to grasp the meaning of the times, etc. In this way, Daghestan remains the only place on earth where the Tat myth is still current and where the Mountain Jews are still called Tats. It seems that Chlenov is quite right when he says that the continued outflow of Mountain Jews from the republic will bury the myth.

In March 2001 Moscow hosted an International Symposium Mountain Jews: Past and Present attended by academics and members of the largest communities. The latter rejected the term Tat as applied to their people while the former refused even to discuss the term as false and unsubstantiated. The same happened at other forums on the history and culture of the Mountain Jews.23

I think that these facts somewhat distort the truth: the virus of Tat-ization has been planted in the minds of the Mountain Jews. It seems that a sociological poll among the Mountain Jews in Israel, Moscow, Daghestan, and the Northern Caucasusin short, everywhere where they liveshould be conducted. The returns will help specify certain propositions presented in this article and based on the authors subjective observations rather than on sociological data.


1 See: M.A. Chlenov, Mezhdu Scylloi deiudaizatsii i Haribdoi sionizma: gorskie evrei v XX veke, Diaspory (Moscow), No. 3, 2000, p. 175; for bibliography, see: ibid., p. 196, Footnote 3; M.-R.A. Ibragimov, Nekotorye aspekty sovremennoi etnicheskoi geografii Dagestana, in: Sovremennye kulturno-bytovye protsessy v Dagestane, Makhachkala, 1984, p. 12.
2 See: M. Chlenov, Evreistvo v sisteme tsivilizatsiy (postanovka voprosa), Diaspory, No. 1, 1999, pp. 34-35.
3 The written language created for the East Caucasian peoples (the Mountain Jews included) was based on the Cyrillic alphabet.
4 See: V.F. Miller, Materialy dlia izuchenia evreisko-tatskogo iazyka, St. Peresburg, 1892, pp. XIII, XVII; V.V. Bartold, Sochinenia, Vol. 2, Part I, Moscow, 1963, pp. 196, 460, ff.
5 See: B.V. Miller, Taty, ikh rasselenie i govory (materialy i voprosy), Baku, published by Obshchestvo obsledovania i izuchenia Azerbaijana, 1929, p. 7 ff.
6 See: Ibid., pp. 12-13.
7 See: Ibid., p. 19.
8 See: N. Khanykov, Zapiski po etnografii Persii, Nauka Publishers, Moscow, 1977, pp. 82-83.
9 See: B.V. Miller, Taty, ikh rasselenie i govory, p. 13.
10 See: N. Anisimov, Gramatik zuhun tati, Moscow, 1932.
11 L.Kh. Avshalumova, Kritika iudaizma i sionizma, Dagestanskoe knizhnoe izdatelstvo Publishers, Makhachkala, 1986.
12 See: E.M. Nazarova, K probleme iazyk ili dialekt na materiale raznovidnostei tatskogo iazyka, in: Tezisy dokladov nauchnoi sessii, posviashchennoi itogam ekspeditsionnykh issledovaniy Instituta istorii, arkheologii i etnografii, a takzhe Instituta iazyka, literatury i iskusstva v 1992-1993 gg., Makhachkala, 1994, pp. 120-121.
13 See: M.A. Chlenov, Mezhdu Scylloi deiudaizatsii i Haribdoi sionizma pp. 183-184.
14 See: Kh. Avshalumov, Legenda i byl, Dagestanskaia pravda, 2 March, 1977; M. Matatov, Istoricheskoi pravde vopreki, Dagestanskaia pravda, 20 May, 1979.
15 See: M.A. Chlenov, Mezhdu Scylloi deiudaizatsii i Haribdoi sionizma p. 190.
16 See: Ibid., pp. 185-189.
17 Ibid., pp. 185, 195.
18 See: Ibid., pp. 179, 182.
19 See: I.Sh. Anisimov, Kavkazskie evrei-gortsy, in: Sbornik materialov, izdavaemykh pri Dashkovskom etnograficheskom muzee, Issue III, Moscow, 1888, pp. 171-322.
20 This is not true: in the late 18th and early 19th centuries some of the Mountain Jews were educated in eshivot (Jewish rreligious schools) of Baghdad (see: B.B. Manoakh, Plenniki Salmanasara (Iz istorii evreev Vostochnogo Kavkaza), Jerusalem, 1984, p. 96).
21 M.-R.A. Ibragimov, Dagestan: etnodemograficheskaia situatsia, dinamika i prognoz, Vesti: Informatsionno-analiticheskiy biulleten Kumykskogo nauchno-kulturnogo obshchestva (Makhachkala), No. 4, 2000, p. 9.
22 In Israel Mountain Jews are called Caucasian Jews while the Georgian Jews are called Georgians according to the country they came from.
23 International scientific and practical conference Mountain Jews of the Caucasus, Baku, April 2001; Scientific session dedicated to the 140th birth anniversary of ethnographer I.Sh. Anisimov, Moscow, Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences, July 2002.

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